Welcome to our comprehensive guide on oils and its intricate relationship with both health and cholesterol levels. Many misconceptions exist when it comes to using oil. Is it all bad? Will it cause weight gain? Should I use it at all? Trends throughout the years have gone from coconut oil, to fry-lite to no oil at all. Some influencers say oil is fine, others want you to cook with water instead.

All these varying views has obviously left health-cautious individuals very confused. If you often wondered which oil is best in the supermarket – or if you should be cooking with oil at all, then this is the blog for you!



Let’s break oil down


All oils are made up of fats however as you may have heard before – not all fats are bad. Fats are broken into two main groups.


Unsaturated Fats


Unsaturated fats can be monosaturated or polysaturated. Monosaturated fats have one double bond in their fatty acid chain. They are typically found in foods like olive oil, avocado and nuts. Polysaturated fats have 2 or more double bonds on their fatty acid.

They are found in vegetable oils such as:

  • soybean
  • corn
  • sunflower and
  • safflower oils


Fatty fish (salmon, trout, and mackerel) flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds also contain unsaturated fats. These are beneficial for heart health when consumed in moderation or as part of a balanced diet. They help to reduce the LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. As well as this they provide essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce which are required in building cell membranes and supporting brain health.


Saturated Fats


Saturated fats lack double bonds between the carbon atoms in their fatty acid chains, so the carbon atoms are ‘saturated’ with hydrogen atoms.

Foods that contain saturated fats include:

  • fatty meats
  • dairy products such as cheese and cream, processed meats, baked goods and
  • oils such as palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter.


In contrast to unsaturated fats, consuming too much saturated fats can raise levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) which is associated with heart disease and stroke. For this reason, reducing the intake of saturated fats and increasing unsaturated fats in the diet is advised.

The thing is, although unsaturated oils and saturated oils have varying effects on the body, they both on average contain 120kcal per tablespoon. If your goal is weight loss, you probably wouldn’t want to pour oil over every meal you eat however as always, a thumb of healthy fats is advised for each meal so including a teaspoon of the right oils will provide health benefits.



Popular oils


Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Vegetable oils typically consist of mono and polyunsaturated fats, making them nutritional powerhouses in the oil world. Of these, extra virgin olive oil could be labelled the elite. Mediterranean countries have used the oil for centuries and many studies have shown that these oils can help to cut heart disease by reducing bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol, which is good for your health. It is also worth mentioning that it contains an array of antioxidants which may have a cancer-lowering affect.


Canola Oil


Canola oil is derived from rapeseed oil and has a high omega-3 fatty acid profile.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to:

  • improve heart rate
  • decrease the risk of blood clots
  • decrease plaque in arteries
  • reduce inflammation
  • lower blood pressure and
  • boost the good cholesterol.


Coconut oil


In my first year of college, Instagram ‘health’ influencers were beginning to blow up and with that came the idea that everybody needs to be cooking with coconut oil. Little did I know that my daily dose of coconut oil was doing more harm than good. Now that I am educated around food, knowing that coconut oil contains a large amount of saturated fat (around 90%), I know that this increases our risk of heart disease by increasing LDL cholesterol.

There is speculation that the high number of medium-chained triglycerides found in coconut oil provide health benefits as they are easily digested and quickly converted to energy by the liver. Despite the claims, no sound scientifically evidence has confirmed the benefits outweigh the negatives so I would advise to avoid.


Palm oil


A big no. Baked goods and fast foods contain palm oil, which not only cause issues for your arteries but also the environment. Stay away from these as much as you can.



Oils in summary


Many plant oils, especially extra virgin olive oil provide many health benefits for our bodies – especially the hearts health and are good for cholesterol. Too much of anything though will not be good, so again if weight loss is what you’re looking for try to minimise the amount – maybe consider using spray oil so you can reap the benefits but not overdo it! Forget about using coconut and palm oils and your arteries will thank you later!


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