Fats: Rating the Cooking Fats (cont.)
Polyunsaturated fats are divided into two main families: omega-3s and omega-6s. Each of these includes a fatty acid essential to health.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linoleic acid, found in plants, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), found in fish.
2. Omega-6 fatty acids include linoleic acid, the major omega-6 found in food.
Rating the Fats
I took a nutritional look at 22 types of fats and oils (listed in order from the lowest amount of saturated fat to the highest): canola oil, Eden Organic safflower oil, hazelnut oil, almond oil Take Control, Benecol spread, grapeseed oil, Land O' Lakes Fresh Buttery Taste Spread, Shedds Spread Country Crock, olive oil, soybean oil, Canola Harvest Premium Margarine, peanut oil, soybean margarine (hard), Smart Balance Omega Plus** Buttery Spread, Smart Balance Buttery Spread, Crisco shortening, chicken fat, lard, butter, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.
After tallying the calories, fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and Vitamin E for all these products, here's the story the numbers told:
The top five sources of beneficial monounsaturated fats are:
2. Hazelnut oil
3. Eden Organic Safflower Oil
4. Almond oil
5. Canola oil
The top sources of beneficial plant omega-3s are, by far:
2. Soybean oil
3. Smart Balance Omega Plus Buttery Spread
The three oils with the most omega-6s (which are essential but which we tend to get too much of) are:
2. Soybean oil
3. Peanut oil
The 10 oils/cooking fats lowest in saturated fat, contributing 2 grams or less per tablespoon, are:
2. Eden Organic Safflower oil
3. Hazelnut oil
4. Almond oil
5. Take Control Spread
6. Benecol Spread
7. Grapeseed oil
8. Land O' Lakes Fresh Buttery Taste Spread
9. Shedds Spread Country Crock
10. Olive oil
Putting It All Together
The bottom line is that it makes nutritional sense to focus on fats that have the least amounts of saturated fat and trans fat but higher amounts of omega-3s and monounsaturated fats.
When you do this, you end up with:
Published March 18, 2004
SOURCES: The National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults: Final Report, September 2002. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, July 2001. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1999; vol 18(3). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2001. Nutrition and Cancer, 2001; vol 39(2). Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, September 1997. Environmental Nutrition, June 2003. ESHA Research Food Processor II nutrition analysis software, 2003.
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