Whether your goal is to be healthier, lose weight, or to gain weight, including healthy fats in your diet is essential for satiation and also a positive hormonal profile. However, most fats come in liquid form, making them convenient to use, but they’re often used precipitously mainly due to the misconception that because they’re healthy they’re innocuous. Now, too much of anything is bad for you (let’s get that cliché out of the way now), and a little, when it comes to oils and fats, goes a long way.
The first step to consider when choosing an oil is taking a closer look into your typical diet to see if you’re already getting enough, not enough, or too little. Depending on your goal, you’ll also need to see if calorically you can fit in added fats and or what can be replaced in order to do so. Though ostensibly demonized, fats do not make you fat, excess calories do! Taking out a few grams of protein here, or a couple carbs there, will allow you to add in fats as necessary. You might be thinking, “what is the right amount of fats for me?”, but to put a gold standard on fats would completely negate the fact that we are all individuals and our diets hold true to that principle. It’s about balance! Ultimately, making sure that fats are in your diet and that you respect the dichotomy between their high caloric content and amazing health benefits key.
The second step is choosing the right oil for the right task. For example, frying eggs with olive oil may seem like a good idea, but olive oil’s *smoke point is far too low. Coconut oil, with a higher smoke point would be a much better choice. But hang on a second, what the hell is a smoke point? Like an oil losing its temper and imploding? No, it’s actually when the molecular structure of the oil is transformed into an unhealthy oil, ultimately losing its multitudinous array of health benefits. Moreover, it not only loses its healthy benefits, but also its flavor; leaving you with a burnt, tasteless, oil with no body, so choose the right oil for frying!
In addition to considering smoke point and caloric content, the last step when choosing an oil in your diet is the amount of *omega 6s and *omega 3s within an oil. In layman’s terms, both are essential fatty acids and good for us, but diets too high in omega 6s can cause some serious inflammation; while omega 3s combat inflammation along with other ailments, and are not only deficient in a typical American diet, but are also, with a few exceptions, nearly impossible to have too many of. Without going too far down the list, soybean oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and corn oil are some of the worst oils in regard to their omega profiles (and beyond), while avocado, coconut, and olive oils (cold or expeller pressed and organic if possible) are some of the best. Additionally, when choosing oils in spray cans, look for ones that are propellant free and also have the correct smoke point.
We can’t stress this enough – measure your oils, steam cook rather than fry, and try to stay away from marinating with oils (it can hard to dictate what’s is really being soaked up during the marinating process). Reducing your ambivalence towards fats while understanding their importance in a well-balanced diet, we hope will help cut through the convoluted BS you’re swarmed with when searching for clarity with fats in your diet.
*Smoke point: the temperature at which an oil begins to burn, ultimately losing its health benefits.
*Omega 6: a family of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found in abundance within the typical American diet.
*Omega 3: a class of essential fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties (among other health benefits) often deficient in the typical American diet.