Incorporating Oils and Spreads

8/15/2023 | Alyssa Bosse, RDN, LD

Oils and Spreads: how to make heart-healthy choices

Oils and Spreads are a rich in fat macronutrient that has received attention for decades. So how can these foods be included in a heart healthy diet? Let’s look at the basics of the different types of fats: 

Unsaturated fats: help lower cholesterol

  • Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Oils
  • How much? Most recommendations say to swap your saturated fats for unsaturated fats.

Saturated fats: may increase cholesterol

  • Full Fat Dairy: cheese, yogurt, milk
  • High Fat Animal Proteins: Beef, Pork
  • Tropical Oils: coconut and palm oil
  • How much? Less than 10% of calories to come from Saturated fat. On a 2,000 calorie diet that would be less than 20 grams per day.

Trans fats

FDA banned adding this to commercially prepared foods. You still may see on the label as “Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil” to sneak by consumer eyes.

  • How much? Health organizations say as little as possible

So what oils have unsaturated fats?

These will be a good place to start:

  • Canola
  • Olive
  • Corn
  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Soybean
  • Peanut
  • Blends of these oils often sold as “vegetable oil”
  • Sesame, avocado and grape seed oil are also nutritious, but are often more expensive.

What about butter or margarine?

  • Look at the nutrition label to compare saturated fat sources to make an informed decision.
  • Most grocery stores have a butter made with olive oil or canola oil. This offers consumers a good balance between enjoying buttered toast while still getting those healthy fats.

3 Ways to use healthy oils in your diet

  1. Use oils to roast, sauté or bake your lean meat
  2. Make your own salad dressing with oil, vinegar, and spices.
  3. Grease pans with oil or a spray made from oil.

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