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Which cooking oil is best for people suffering from heart ailments?

Monday, 20 March 2006
Answered by: Ms. Neesha Bukht Choksy
Consultant Nutritionist

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Q. Should one avoid oil completely in food, if diagnosed with dyslipidemia? Some one told me that it is necessary to have oil in food. Please comment. Which oil is best for people with heart ailments? What quantity should be consumed? Which oil has most beneficial poly unsaturated fatty acids viz., omega 3 & 6 and how do they help heart functions?

A.  It is not necessary to avoid oil in food totally if diagnosed with dyslipidemia. Fat is important for many body processes. You need to eat some fat. Fat protects your organs, keeps you warm and it helps your body absorb and move nutrients around. It also helps hormone production. However some fats are better than others and having too much of any type is not a good idea. Adjust your total intake to your caloric needs. For weight management or weight reduction, or dyslipidemia no more than 3–5 teaspoons is recommended. This includes all the oil used throughout the day for seasoning, cooking, in rotis etc. Saturated fats contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats both tend to lower blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fats in the diet, but the polyunsaturated fatty acids have a slightly greater impact than monounsaturated fatty acids. Sources of saturated fats include fatty cuts of meat, full fat milk and cheese, butter, cream, most commercially baked products such as biscuits and pastries, most deep fried fast foods, coconut and palm oil. Sources of monounsaturated fats include margarine spreads such as canola or olive oil based choices, oils such as olive, canola and peanut oils, avocado, and nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds. Sources of unsaturated fats include fish oils, seafood, polyunsaturated margarines, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn or soy oils, nuts such as walnuts and cashew nuts, and seeds. Sources of omega-6 and omega-3 fats include canola and soy oils and canola based margarines. Marine sources include fish especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardine. Omega-3 fats are found in both plant and marine foods and have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-6 fats are found primarily in nuts, seeds and plant oils such as corn, soy and safflower. The benefits of omega fats in the diet are:
  • Lower blood cholesterol levels, which reduces an important risk factor in coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood vessel elasticity
  • Thin the blood, which makes it less sticky and less likely to clot
  • Reduce inflammation and boost the immune system
  • Contribute to the normal development of the fetal brain.
Use fats and oils sparingly. And use the ones lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol for cooking, baking and in spreads. Use hydrogenated shortenings like dalda sparingly. And choose those made from vegetable fat such as corn oil or canola oil. They're lower in saturated fat than those made from animal- or vegetable-fat blends.
  • Use reduced-fat or no-fat salad dressings with salads, for dips or as a marinade.
  • Use cooking styles that add little or no fat to food, and request foods cooked that way when you eat out.
  • Remember to count the hidden fat in bakery and snack foods as well as the fats used in cooking and on vegetables and breads. Read food labels. Coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are high in saturated fat, even though they're vegetable oils and have no cholesterol. Watch the intake of these oils.

A.  It is not necessary to avoid oil in food totally if diagnosed with dyslipidemia. Fat is important for many body processes. You need to eat some fat. Fat protects your organs, keeps you warm and it helps your body absorb and move nutrients around. It also helps hormone production. However some fats are better than others and having too much of any type is not a good idea. Adjust your total intake to your caloric needs. For weight management or weight reduction, or dyslipidemia no more than 3–5 teaspoons is recommended. This includes all the oil used throughout the day for seasoning, cooking, in rotis etc. Saturated fats contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats both tend to lower blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fats in the diet, but the polyunsaturated fatty acids have a slightly greater impact than monounsaturated fatty acids. Sources of saturated fats include fatty cuts of meat, full fat milk and cheese, butter, cream, most commercially baked products such as biscuits and pastries, most deep fried fast foods, coconut and palm oil. Sources of monounsaturated fats include margarine spreads such as canola or olive oil based choices, oils such as olive, canola and peanut oils, avocado, and nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds. Sources of unsaturated fats include fish oils, seafood, polyunsaturated margarines, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn or soy oils, nuts such as walnuts and cashew nuts, and seeds. Sources of omega-6 and omega-3 fats include canola and soy oils and canola based margarines. Marine sources include fish especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardine. Omega-3 fats are found in both plant and marine foods and have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-6 fats are found primarily in nuts, seeds and plant oils such as corn, soy and safflower. The benefits of omega fats in the diet are:
  • Lower blood cholesterol levels, which reduces an important risk factor in coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood vessel elasticity
  • Thin the blood, which makes it less sticky and less likely to clot
  • Reduce inflammation and boost the immune system
  • Contribute to the normal development of the fetal brain.
Use fats and oils sparingly. And use the ones lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol for cooking, baking and in spreads. Use hydrogenated shortenings like dalda sparingly. And choose those made from vegetable fat such as corn oil or canola oil. They're lower in saturated fat than those made from animal- or vegetable-fat blends.
  • Use reduced-fat or no-fat salad dressings with salads, for dips or as a marinade.
  • Use cooking styles that add little or no fat to food, and request foods cooked that way when you eat out.
  • Remember to count the hidden fat in bakery and snack foods as well as the fats used in cooking and on vegetables and breads. Read food labels. Coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are high in saturated fat, even though they're vegetable oils and have no cholesterol. Watch the intake of these oils.

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