Many cooking oils naturally contain healthy unsaturated fats that can help to lower cholesterol when used as a replacement for other cooking fats, like butter and palm oil.
Here are my 4 favourite cholesterol-lowering cooking oils:-
1. Rapeseed oil
Rapeseed oil, heralded as the ‘British olive oil’, is rich in unsaturated fats, making it a great choice for cholesterol-lowering cooking. It is lower in saturated fat than olive oil and is one of the only unblended oils that can be heated to a high frying temperature without spoiling its nutrients or flavour.
Rapeseed oil can be used in place of other oils in cholesterol-lowering recipes, for example:-
2. Olive oil
Olive oil is also rich in cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats, which is why it is a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Infused olive oils are a great way to include these healthy fats in your diet. For example:-
- Basil infused olive oil drizzled over salads.
- Warm bread dipped in garlic infused olive oil.
- Chilli infused olive oil drizzled over stir fries just before serving.
Although olive oil ticks a lot of boxes, one thing to be aware of is that it degrades at high temperatures as the healthy fatty acids break down. This means the health benefits are reduced. Therefore many health experts recommend using olive oil cold where possible, or cooked at low temperatures.
3. Avocado oil
Avocado oil is great for lowering cholesterol because almost 70% of it consists of heart-healthy oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. It’s generally more expensive than olive and rapeseed oil, but pretty versatile as it can be cooked at high temperatures.
Here are some simple ways to include avocado oil in a cholesterol-lowering diet:-
- Add it to smoothies.
- Use it in salads, like this black bean & quinoa salad.
- Use it instead of other oils in curries.
- Make this marinade for fish or chicken.
4. Hemp seed oil
Hemp seed oil is again more expensive than olive and rapeseed oil, but is another excellent cholesterol-lowering choice because it contains less saturated fat with similar amounts of unsaturated fats.
It’s quite delicate, so can’t be cooked at very high temperatures. Therefore it’s best served cold, like in these cholesterol-lowering salad dressing recipes:-
Oils to avoid
Avoid cooking oils that are high in saturated fat, like palm oil, as they can raise cholesterol levels. Also cooking oils containing trans fats (found in hydrogenated oils) should be avoided as they’re actually worse for your cholesterol than saturated fats.
Cooking oils that are low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats can help to lower your cholesterol, as long as they’re eaten in moderation (i.e. 1-2 tbsp per day, depending on the rest of your daily food intake).
Rapeseed oil and avocado oil are great for cholesterol-lowering cooking because they don’t degrade at high temperatures, making them very versatile. Rapeseed and avocado oil also contain less saturated fat than olive oil.
Olive oil and hemp seed oil can also help to lower cholesterol, but they degrade at high temperatures so are best used at low temperatures or cold, such as in salad dressings.