Fats and fitness—it can be confusing. After all, it doesn’t sound like fat should be in the diet of someone who wants to be lean. And yet we know fat is essential…so, which fats are best?
Clean fats like avocado and raw nuts are a good starting point, and, cooking fats are likely to account for a lot of your daily fat intake. Let’s take a look at two top choices for oils in general.
It’s not only in the modern age of the Mediterranean diet that olive oil has been recognized for its health and fitness uses—some of the fittest ancient societies like Greece, Rome and Egypt relied on olive oil to do everything from treat medical ailments to rewarding winners of athletic competitions.
Science has shown that olive oil is a wonderful source of fat in the diet, beating out other vegetable oils and dairy fats for numerous health benefits. So drizzle extra virgin olive oil on your salads and marinate your meats in it, too.
Can it take the heat? It’s been thought that olive oil has too low of a smoke point for high heat cooking, but it might be much more stable than originally thought. The problem with many vegetable oils (say, corn oil or sunflower oil) is they break down at higher temperatures, say during frying. That causes oxidation, which is bad for our cells. But the monounsaturated fats in olive oil appear to stabilize it and make it a fine choice for cooking at most heats.
Healthy heart, tummy and more. Antioxidants are one of the major components of extra virgin olive oil. They include vitamin A and vitamin E which help with skin, bone and eye and immune system health, and are protection against gastrointestinal acids causing digestive issues. In fact, the vitamin E in olive oil come in one of the most highly digestible forms, so it’s a big boost to the absorption of nutrients.
Fitness and beauty. It’s thought that olive oil promotes a healthy response to inflammation that can be caused by exercising. In fact, the antioxidant powers of olive oil support cell health inside and out, including workout recovery and anti-aging properties for skin. Plus, more than one body builder has reported using pure olive oil to get that special competition glow!
Many health experts have declared coconut oil to be a superfood—plenty of nutrients packed in each spoonful. Although, because of the high saturated fat content that some studies linked with adverse effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels, not all experts recommend liberal use. In some ways, the jury is still out on the extent of the risk, but it still seems there is plenty to love about coconut oil as a cooking fat in your diet.
Can it take the heat? Compared to olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, coconut oil is a saturated fat. That fact alone concerns some doctors who advocate for moderation when it comes to saturated fat in the diet. But it also allows for a very high smoke point for coconut oil. That’s a benefit to cooking health – it’s more stable at high temperatures than most other oils, and so it’s more resistant to oxidizing. Try using organic extra virgin coconut oil to stir fry and sauté.
Reduced cholesterol, inflammation and more. Some research has shown that virgin coconut oil can reduce blood serum levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol. This is attributed to the type of saturated fat found in coconut oil, called lauric acid, which is a medium-chain triglyceride (MTC). MTCs may offer other related health benefits, including preventive help for cancer, seizures and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fitness and beauty. Coconut oil is pro-youth and pro-healing, with a variety of anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. The MTCs in coconut oil digest more quickly than other types (like the long-chain triglycerides in most vegetable oils), too. This makes coconut oil easier to be processed by the liver as a source for energy, instead of stored as fat. Eating MTCs can also help satisfy hunger more quickly to support your dieting goals.