Cholesterol and Cooking: Fats and Oils
For low-cholesterol cooking, use the right fats in the right amounts.
Best Fats and Oils for Low-Cholesterol Cooking continued...
Saturated fat increases the risk of blocked blood vessels. It's prevalent in fatty meats, and in full-fat dairy foods including butter, cheese, ice cream, and whole milk, all of which also contain significant dietary cholesterol. Coconut oil, palm, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter supply large amounts of saturated fat, too, but are cholesterol-free.
Your body makes all the saturated fat and cholesterol it requires, so you don't need to eat any. You also don't need any trans fat, which, like saturated fat, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Trans fat is found in stick margarine, some tub margarine, and in shortening, as well as in some processed foods such as cookies, crackers, and pastry. Cooking oils do not contain trans fat.
Fats and Oils: Take the Good With the Bad
The fats used in cooking typically contain a mixture of "good" and "bad" fats. Fats and oils are deemed beneficial or not by how much saturated and unsaturated fat they supply. For example, olive oil is considered good, although it has some saturated fat, and butter is thought to be bad, even though it contains some unsaturated fat.
Just because a fat or oil is better for you doesn't mean you can eat as much as you want and still lower your cholesterol, however. Overdoing it on fats and oils rich in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, contributes to your saturated fat intake, too. And, there are calories to consider.
"Oils have just as many calories as butter and stick margarine, so it is important to be mindful of how much you add in food preparation," says Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Unnecessary calories can make people overweight, another risk factor for heart disease.
Fats and Oils to Have on Hand
So what fats and oils should you buy for low-cholesterol cooking?
"Stock your cupboard with all-purpose oils rich in unsaturated fat that can stand high cooking temperatures, such as vegetable, safflower, and canola oils," says Jackie Newgent, RD, culinary nutritionist and the author of Big Green Cookbook.