Over the years, dietary fat has come in and out of fashion for people with diabetes. In the dark ages, before insulin, fat was recommended as the primary source of calories of a diabetic diet. The pendulum then swung in the opposite direction in recent decades, and fat became a dietary villain. Today, fats still sit at the top of the Diabetes Food Pyramid as the food group that should be limited most.
Many argue that with diabetes, limiting carbs is more important than limiting fat, however, and in recent years, the pendulum seems to be moving again, with a new emphasis on consuming a variety of natural fats and avoiding unnatural ones. Trans fats are the man-made fats that are associated with an increased risk for heart disease.
“Since two out of three people with diabetes die from a heart attack or stroke, it’s important for them to choose oils that support a healthy heart,” explains Marisa Moore, RD, LD, registered and licensed dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “That means choosing oils that are high in heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fat.” These types of oils are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, because of their positive effects on blood cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fats actually help to lower total and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, without negatively affecting your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, Moore notes. “This is important since high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease,” she explains.
Polyunsaturated fats also help to lower total cholesterol, however, some research shows they may also lower good (HDL) cholesterol in the process. Some polyunsaturated fats are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease the risk of blood clotting and inflammation to help lower the risk for heart disease. What’s more, a recent study linked a diet rich in omega-3s with a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes.
But knowing which oils are the healthiest is only half the battle. Pairing the right oil with the proper cooking method is important as well. Some oils are good for high heat cooking, while others are better for salad dressing. One way to determine this is to look at the smoke point, the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke and break down, releasing carcinogens into the air and free radicals into the oil. When it reaches this point, you should discard the oil and start over.
Here’s a guide to the healthiest cooking oils for people with diabetes and ideas for making good use of them in your kitchen:
1. Walnut Oil: A polyunsaturated fat and a good source of omega 3s. With a smoke point of 400 degrees F, this oil is good for baking (try this Blueberry Oat Muffin recipe) and sauteing at low to medium-high heat (as in this Lemon and Garlic Summer Squash Recipe), or try it drizzled on a salad, such ask this Italian Bean and Artichoke Salad.
2. Flaxseed Oil: A polyunsaturated fat and a good source of omega 3s. Due to its low smoke point of 225 degrees F, it should not be used for cooking over heat. Try it stirred into dishes after heating or in salad dressings, salsa or smoothies.
3. Canola Oil: A monounsaturated fat with a medium-high smoke point of 425 degrees F, use it in baking (try using it in Oatmeal cookies), sauteing, stir-fry (like this Mexican dish), and in dressings.
4. Olive Oil: A monounsaturated fat with a medium smoke point of 325 degrees F, use this flavorful oil for light sauteing (like this dish of Prosciutto and Peas), sauces like pesto and salad dressings like this.
5. Peanut Oil: A monounsaturated fat with a medium smoke point of 350 degrees F, use this flavorful oil for light sauteing (try peanut chicken), sauces (such as curry) and salad dressings (like sesame green beans).
6. Almond Oil: A monounsaturated fat with a high smoke point of 495 degrees F, this is a good oil for high heat cooking, like sauteeing or frying. Its great flavor also works well in desserts, like the Light Whipped Cream recipe.
7. Avocado Oil: A monounsaturated fat with a high smoke point of 510 degrees F, this is a good oil for high heat cooking, like sauteing or frying, and tasty in salads such as this one.
8. Safflower Oil: A polyunsaturated fat with a low saturated fat level, this oil is a good all-purpose oil. It’s high smoke point of 450 degrees F makes it good for high heat cooking, like sauteeing and frying. Try it in this Kasha and Brown Rice Rotini Pasta dish or Bite Sized Lemon-Rosemary Chicken.
9. Sunflower Oil: A polyunsaturated fat with a low saturated fat level, this oil has a high smoke point of 460 degrees F making it good for high heat cooking, like sauteeing and frying. Use it to saute the vegetables in this Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup or Zucchini Soup with Pasta.
10. Grapeseed Oil: A polyunsaturated fat with a low saturated fat level, this oil has a high smoke point of 420 degrees F, making it great for cooking and grilling of all kinds. It also has a very mild, nutty flavor that’s versatile enough to use in salads or virtually anything.
Originally published on Dlife.