It’s now okay for certain foods and beverages sold in Canada to use their labels to remind consumers that replacing saturated fats and mono- and polyunsaturated fats can reduce LDL cholesterol.
But many of us don’t want to rely on labels to tell us which fats are our healthiest alternatives. Here are some fast facts to help you navigate the cooking oil aisle of your supermarket:
Malaysian palm fruit oil: All-natural and naturally trans-fat free. It contains almost equal amounts of unsaturated fats and saturated fats, (mainly palmitic and smaller amounts of stearic acids). In the body, it behaves more like a monounsaturated fat. It has virtually no adverse impact on your cholesterol levels. Comparable nutritionally to olive oil, it can be used for cooking at higher temperatures than olive oil and is ideal for those cooking applications when you don’t want the flavor of olive oil.
Monosaturated fats: Lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing the HDL (good) cholesterol. Found abundantly in avocados, nuts, olive oil and liquid palm oil (called palm olein).
Polyunsaturated fats: Lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing the HDL (good) cholesterol. Found in all vegetable oils, abundant in corn oil and sunflower oil. Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are an example.
Saturated fats: Raise total cholesterol as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol. Found abundantly in animal products such as beef and pork as well as palm kernel oil and coconut oil.
Trans fats: Raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. Also adversely raise a number of disease-related risk factors. Still found in many processed foods such as French fries and baked goods.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.