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NEWSLETTER

Can olive oil help you live longer? 

Some people may be hesitant to use oils in their cooking or with their food. High cholesterol and, well, growing fat come to mind when you eat fat with your meals. The fact that some fats are classified as "bad" adds to the confusion and belief that all fats are harmful.


That, however, is not the case.

 
Shilpa Bhupathiraju, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says, "It's crucial to consume oils."
 
Essential fatty acids—omega 3s and 6s in particular—are found in oils and fats and are part of the construction of every cell in the body, according to Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They're the building blocks of hormones, and they aid in the reduction of inflammation as well as the reduction of bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Taste and satiety are also provided by oil.
 
Knowing which type to use is crucial. When you cook at home, it's easy; when you eat out and can't control every stage of the process, it's a little more difficult. But choosing the healthiest oils isn't the only consideration. They contribute to a healthy diet when consumed as part of a diet that avoids processed foods, simple carbohydrates, and sugar. 

 
Oils that are good for you and oils that aren't so good for you

The healthiest oils, according to Willett, are liquid and plant-based. Olive oil is the first thing that springs to mind, and with good reason. He remarks, "It's stood the test of time." Extra virgin is the best version since it is the initial pressing and least refined, and it lowers blood cholesterol and offers antioxidants.

Corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, and soybeans all fall into the healthy category after that. The last one wasn't always thought to be a healthy option since it was hydrogenated, but it's now in its natural condition and is a good source, according to Willett.
 
On the harmful side, there's lard, butter, palm oil, and coconut oil. They all have a semi-solid consistency and a high saturated fat content in common. Consumption of that fat raises LDL cholesterol (the bad sort), which has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.
 
Part of the problem, according to Willett, is cultural. The Northern European habit of consuming animal and animal fats, such as butter and lard, is based on solid fats. The Mediterranean diet, like the Southern European approach, is based on plant-based oils, mainly olive oil.
 
While saturated fats don't provide any of the above-mentioned health benefits, they don't have to be completely avoided; instead, they should be limited to 5% of your diet, according to Willett. For example, if you consume 2,000 calories per day, saturated fat should account for only 100 calories.

 

Choosing between eating out and cooking at home

 
When you eat at home and use healthy oils, you're less likely to consume the wrong fats or too much of them. You have complete control over every aspect of the process, whether you're frying, sautéing, or dressing a salad. According to Bhupathiraju, excessive oil isn't a problem because people normally manage their intake by recognizing when something tastes too oily.
 
Frying is a common source of concern, but it isn't always unhealthy. It's all about the food that's being fried. But cheese, which is high in saturated fat, would be a horrible choice, but zucchini, as Bhupathiraju suggests, would be fine.
 
The issue with fried dishes, and eating out in general, is the type of oil used and how it is handled. If the oil in deep fryers isn't changed on a regular basis, it will overheat and produce trans fats. These can cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as contribute to cell membrane breakdown.
 
The simplest step is to avoid all fried meals. But, as Willett points out, this isn't always necessary. Since the usage of trans fats was outlawed in 2018, it's safe to assume that a restaurant is using a healthier oil. Even so, eating fried meals every now and then isn't that bad.

 

Maintain a nutritious diet that includes good oils.

 

People acquire the majority of their calories from two sources, Willett says fat and carbohydrates, and "what's crucial is that both should be healthy."
 
You don't have to worry about how much of each you eat when you eat healthy carbs and fats. "There isn't much of a difference in the ratio. They're both in good health, "he says. The emphasis is on total dietary habits. A nutritious diet can include whole grains like brown rice, steel-cut oats, wheat berries, and quinoa. The less something is milled and ground into a powder, the slower it releases into the body, preventing blood sugar spikes.
 
Low-fat diets were popular in the 1990s, but low-fat items aren't necessarily healthier. According to Willett, low-carb diets are more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets, and low-fat diets are not more effective for weight loss than higher-fat diets.
 
The science-backed guideline of having a variety of colors on your plate is the best way to eat healthily. Foods that are orange, yellow, green, or red include antioxidants and phytochemicals that may protect the body. According to Bhupathiraju, if you build your diet like this, you'll eat more slowly and consume fewer empty calories.

Willett advises, "Enjoy fats." "Good olive oil is beneficial to your health. It will make the salad more delightful to consume and the experience of eating veggies more enjoyable.

THE REALITIES ABOUT FAT AND CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

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