The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Oils

Cooking Oils and Fat

Check the levels of fat in your cooking oil before purchasing it.
Check the levels of fat in your cooking oil before purchasing it.
Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

It's important to consider the health benefits and risks of cooking oils. All of them fall at different places on the spectrum of "healthy" fats versus "bad" fats. While some are considered to be detrimental to your health, others actively improve it. But before we dive in, let's examine the different types of fat found in cooking oil.

By now, most people understand that trans fats are unhealthy. This kind of fat is added to food as a preservative, and it also keeps it from feeling overly greasy. The drawback is that trans fats raise your bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL). And, while other types of fat are a necessary part of a healthy diet, trans fats are completely superfluous. Saturated fats also raise bad cholesterol levels, though they occur naturally in animal products. Unsaturated fats, both mono and poly, are considered to be much healthier. Unlike trans and saturated fats, mono- and polyunsaturated fats can lower your overall cholesterol, especially your levels of LDL. When you're choosing a cooking oil, look for higher levels of unsaturated fats and little or no trans and saturated fats.

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