Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Diet Health: How to Pick Healthier Cooking Oils

Cut Back on Unhealthy Cooking Oils
Some oils contain higher levels of saturated fat, which is considered the "bad" or unhealthy fat because it can clog arteries and lead to high cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease.
Avoid these oil varieties, some of which are so high in saturated fat that they have more of it than some meat sources:
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Safflower oil
In general, keep the amount of saturated fats you eat to a minimum; check the labels before you buy any cooking oil to see what types of fat it contains. You also want to avoid any oil-based products with trans fats and hydrogenated oils — even worse for you than saturated fats.

Healthy Alternatives to Cooking Oil
You don't always have to cook in oil — there are other options that are even lighter and healthier. Try these alternatives:
  • Lightly coat your pan with cooking spray rather than adding liquid oil
  • Bake by wrapping food in parchment paper or aluminum foil to steam it and keep it moist
  • Use broth, such as a low-sodium vegetable, beef, or chicken variety, as a cooking medium and sauce base
  • Steam food above boiling water
  • Season food with lemon juice for a citrus flavor
  • Marinate or cook with balsamic vinegar for a tangy, rich flavor
A variety of heart-healthy cooking oils can give your meal great flavor. Experiment with light sautes or marinades; if you avoid frying foods or using heavy amounts of oil, nut or vegetable oil adds taste and valuable nutrition to any meal. Just. And remember: A little oil goes a long way.
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