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Fab Fats

Making a healthier choice is “oil” you need to do

Yeah, you read it right – fats are very important to us! The healthy, unsaturated fats serve as our energy store, cushion for vital organs and a transport system for fat-soluble vitamins.

In an effort to promote healthier fare at food joints, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has started offering subsidies to encourage wholesale suppliers to sell a healthier canola-palm oil mix – instead of palm oil which is what’s primarily sold now – to food outlets. Ezyhealth checks out five alternatives to palm oil that will help oil the wheels of your healthy cooking endeavours at home.


bottle of oil with rapeseed flower, on a canvas background


Canola Oil

Fat Composition:

Monounsaturated: 62% | Polyunsaturated: 31% | Saturated: 7%

This probably has the least amount of saturated fats of the lot. A diet high in saturated fats raises the level of LDL cholesterol in our body, which increases the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – a kind of omega-3 fatty acid – found in canola oil helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Note that only a small fraction of ALA will be converted into omega-3 benefits. Hence, while canola oil gives your diet a little boost of omega-3, it should not be a substitute for the omega-3s more directly derived from fish.Salad

How to use it: With a neutral taste and high heat tolerance, it works well in dressings, sauces, grilling or stir-frying. For bakers, canola serves dual purposes: as a substitute for solid fats like butter, and an effective non-stick agent for pans.

Branch with olives and a bottle of olive oil isolated on whiteExtra Virgin Olive Oil

Fat Composition:

Monounsaturated: 78% | Polyunsaturated: 8% | Saturated: 14%

A rich source of monounsaturated fats, this oil not only helps lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, but also controls blood sugar levels. Extra virgin olive oil – made from the first pressing of olives – also boasts a high concentration of antioxidants, making it an important defence against inflammation and cell damage by free radicals. Apart from the extra virgin variety, you will also come across “pure olive oil” and “light olive oil” in supermarkets – these are made from processing leftovers in the virgin extraction process and are thus lower quality, in terms of taste and benefits.

How to use it: This is best used raw, as in dressings, drizzles or dips, but it can also be used to cook at lower temperatures, such as in sautéing vegetables. You can also use it as a substitute for butter on bread and rolls.

Peanut Oil

Fat Composition:iStock_000020016548_Large

Monounsaturated: 48% | Polyunsaturated: 34% | Saturated: 18%

With a high amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, this oil lowers the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and even gives your HDL (“good”) cholesterol a boost. It is also rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant which protects cells from free radical damage.

How to use it: Its mild flavour makes it ideal for cooking without stealing the limelight from other ingredients. Great for frying especially, due to its high heat resistance. That said, don’t go overboard with it – the high caloric content can make your otherwise low-cal dish very high in calories if you’re heavy-handed with your drizzle.

Sesame Oil

sesame oilFat Composition:

Monounsaturated: 41% | Polyunsaturated: 44% | Saturated: 15%

Falling in ranks with foods high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, here’s another healthy fat that lowers your cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. Two tablespoons of sesame oil provides 75% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin E – an antioxidant that protects our cells from assaults by free radicals. Apart from cooking, sesame oil does wonders for the skin and also makes frequent appearances in anti-ageing creams.

How to use it: With a high smoking point, sesame oil can be used for deep-frying and sautéing – it often stars in quintessentially Asian dishes. You can also add a teaspoon into your smoothies or salad dressings.

Walnut Oil

Fat Composition:iStock_000014989966_Large-1

Monounsaturated: 24% | Polyunsaturated: 67% | Saturated: 9%

Boasting a rich, nutty flavour, this oil is also rich in omega-3, a type of polyunsaturated fat known to be good for the heart. Omega-3 also helps ensure normal brain function and reduces artery-damaging inflammation. A 2013 study found that subjects showed a better physical response to stress and lower blood pressure, when they ate walnut oil and whole walnuts. A drawback, however, is that this oil has a short shelf life, and needs to be refrigerated.

How to use it: Drizzle over salads, cooked vegetable and meat dishes. Refrain from using it at high temperatures as heat reduces the oil’s flavour and destroys its antioxidants.


Kelly Ng
Posted by ezyhealth on Dec 5 2014. Filed under Wellness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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