Is There A Difference In Fats And Oils?
Which is better to use - canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or shortening?
Nashville, Ark. – I get several questions about which is better Canola or Olive Oil? Coconut Oil or Shortening? With all the emphasis on lowering fat intake, it is best to start at the beginning.
Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature like butter or lard. Solid fats mainly come from animal foods. Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like canola or olive oil. Oils come from many different plants and from fish. However, coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils (what we call tropical oils) are solid at room temperature because they have high amounts of saturated fatty acids. They are classified as a solid fat rather than an oil.
All fats and oils are a mixture of saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Solid fats contain more saturated fats and/or Trans fats than oils. Saturated fats and Trans fats tend to raise LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
There has been some research lately that has led people to believe that saturated fats are not as harmful as they once thought. Coconut oil has been widely promoted as having many health benefits. This led the American Heart Association to issue an advisory recommending not using coconut oil.
When comparing fats and oils, coconut oil is a very saturated fat. In fact, it is the most saturated fat. To put this in perspective, lard has about half the saturated fat as coconut oil. Research confirmed that coconut oil raises LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels.
Which oil has the least amount of saturated fat? Canola or Safflower oil with olive oil and sesame oil coming in next. One benefit of olive oil over Canola oil is olive oil has more monounsaturated fat (the better fat) for your heart.
Cholesterol can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease. A good analogy is to think about your arteries as a straw. You can blow or sip through a straw easily. If you stick the straw down through a can of shortening or lard, what happens? The straw gets clogged up by the shortening, you can’t blow air through it. Same thing happens with the arteries in your heart.
So how much oil should you consume? Most Americans eat more solid fat than recommend while consuming fewer oils than recommended. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend shifting from solid fats to oils. This includes using oils (except tropical oils like coconut oil) in place of solid fats when cooking. And to increase the intake of foods that naturally contain oils, such as seafood and nuts, in place of some meat and poultry.
If you would like to know exactly how much oil is recommended for you, find out at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/oils . Also check out the other information on fruits and vegetable consumption, and protein needs at Choose MyPlate.
The bottom line? When cooking, use olive or Canola oil instead of shortening or lard. To learn to eat healthier, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. Healthy cooking classes are offered on a regular basis. I’ll be glad to add you to my mailing list to let you know when the next one is scheduled.
Recipe of the Week
Fran Strawn won the Peach Pie contest at the recent Peach Blossom Festival. Congratulations to her for being named the Arkansas Peach Pie Winner! Fran was gracious enough to share her prize winning recipe.
Old Fashioned Peach Pie
10 fresh peaches, pitted and sliced (or frozen, when not in season)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter
1 pastry, for a 9-inch double crust pie
Preheat oven to 350⁰F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, and butter until crumbly. Place one crust in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Line the shell with a layer of sliced peaches. Sprinkle some of the crumb mixture on top of the peaches. Continue layering peaches and crumb mixture until all have been used.
Cut second crust into strips. Top pie with lattice strips of pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden. Turn off the oven and let the pie sit in the cooling oven for 1-2 hours to set the filling.
Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie
By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
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