A great deal of successful weight loss lies in food preparation. The use of oil is almost inevitable in cooking and makes it more complex to modify diet enough to slim down and maintain weight in a healthy range. Oils, like fats in general, are not the same. Some options are good for you while others are not. The weight loss endeavor will become easier and less stressful when you cook and prepare meals with certain oils and in this post, you’re going to see the options that can help you slim down.
1. Olive oil
Olive oil is among the healthiest types of fats in the world. The Health benefits of olive oil are numerous and they are largely down to the rich monounsaturated fats content. Olive oil is also an abundant source of antioxidants.
The role of antioxidants is to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from oxidative stress and damage it would cause. Studies show that excess weight and oxidative stress tend to go hand in hand (1). By supplying the body with powerful antioxidants, olive oil can bring more balance into the mix and help us combat oxidative stress that occurs with excess weight.
Moreover, a growing body of evidence confirms that consumption of olive oil can also support weight loss. For example, one study found that an olive oil-enriched diet brought a greater weight loss than a lower-fat diet in an eight-week comparison (2). A different research showed olive oil was more effective for weight loss than soybean oil, for example. In fact, fat loss was about 80% higher in the extra virgin olive oil group (3).
Since monounsaturated fats are resistant to high heat, olive oil is a healthy choice for cooking. However, you should avoid temperatures that are too high. You’ll get the most out of olive oil when you combine it with healthy foods and ingredients including vegetables, salmon, salads.
2. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is the healthiest oil you can introduce to your diet, besides olive oil. While coconut oil is mostly used for beauty and skincare, its applications are numerous. If you’re trying to slim down or maintain weight in a healthy range, you may want to try out coconut oil down to its medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Most dietary fats are classified as long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), but MCTs are shorter (4). Why is this important? Upon digestion, the MCTs go straight to the liver. The body utilizes MCTs as a quick source of energy and converts them into ketones.
Ketones are a type of chemical the liver produces when it breaks down fats. The body uses ketones for energy usually during fasting, long periods of exercise, or when you don’t have enough carbohydrates.
Here’s the good news – the MCTs in coconut oil can increase the number of calories the body burns compared with LCTs, studies show (5). A study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 15g to 30g of MCTs a day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5% (6). Since a growing body of evidence confirms the effectiveness of coconut oil for weight loss (7) you may want to add it to your menu.
Due to high-fat concentration, coconut oil can stand up to high heat quite well and it’s a good choice for stir-frying and sautéing. However, for the best results, you may want to opt for medium heat.
3. Avocado oil
Avocado is known for a wide spectrum of health benefits including weight management (8). Therefore, avocado oil shouldn’t be an exception. And it isn’t! About 70% of avocado oil accounts for oleic acid, a monounsaturated Omega-9 fatty acid also found in olive oil (9). Oleic acid is responsible for most health effects of avocado oil. One of those effects is weight loss.
A study from the Advances in Nutrition confirmed that oleic acid promotes successful weight loss (10). Thanks to oleic acid, avocado oil can help support your weight loss and maintain weight in a healthy range. But how? You see, oleic acid can influence fat balance, body weight, and possibly energy expenditure. Consumption of foods rich in oleic acid (e.g. avocado and olive oil) can reduce abdominal obesity. This is particularly important if we bear in mind that abdominal fat is stubborn and difficult to decrease. Oleic acid-rich diet can be involved in the regulation of food intake and body mass through several mechanisms including anti-inflammatory action.
If you’ve never used avocado oil it’s easy to wonder how to use it or whether this oil is easy to use in the first place. Avocado oil is versatile and easy to incorporate into the diet. Not only is it safe to consume it cold, but avocado oil is also a healthy and safe cooking oil because it’s stable at high heat.
4. Almond oil
Compared to some other oils on the list, almond oil is high in calorie content. Don’t let the calories fool you. When consumed in moderation this oil can, actually, help you slim down. How? The Health benefits of almond oil are down to its nutritional content.
Besides high vitamin E content, almond oil is a wonderful source of phosphorus, magnesium, and copper. These nutrients allow almond oil to exhibit antioxidant, immune-boosting, and anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s also useful to mention that almond oil is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which your body needs for a healthy brain, heart, joints, and general health and wellbeing. Studies show that increasing consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids can promote weight loss (11).
To get the most out of almond oil you need to choose wisely. Make sure to opt for unrefined or virgin oils at low heat to prevent burning the oil and destroying its nutritional value. Almond oil is the best for low-heat baking, but you can use it in salad dressing or sprinkle on top of your dishes.
5. Canola oil
Canola oil is demonized by some and praised by others. However, canola oil is a good source of nutrients, especially vitamins E and K. Saturated fat content is low in canola oil, which is particularly beneficial if you’re trying to protect your heart too. This oil is a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. More precisely, canola oil is higher in the Omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than other types of oils, except flaxseed oil. The ALA can protect your heart through the effects on cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure.
Studies show that consumption of canola oil can decrease body weight (12), but more research on this subject is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms of action.
For men and women who want to slim down, canola oil can be a healthier replacement for unhealthy oils. Compared to other oils on this list, canola oil has a higher smoke point and you can use it for high-temperature cooking.
6. Flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil, is made from flax seeds that have been ground and pressed to release their natural oil. This oil is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids; one tablespoon (15ml) contains an impressive 7,196mg of these important fatty acids. More precisely, flaxseed oil contains ALA which the body converts to obtain active forms of Omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA.
The weight loss potential of flaxseed oil is down to the ALA content. A growing body of evidence confirms that the intake of ALA reduces body weight and BMI (13, 14). It’s also useful to mention that adding flaxseed to a weight loss diet can reduce inflammation markers such as cardiovascular risk factors in overweight people (15).
Versatility is one of the most important advantages of flaxseed oil. You can easily add it to salad dressings, sauces, and dips. However, keep in mind that flaxseed oil isn’t suitable for high-heat cooking due to a low smoking point.
7. Peanut oil
Peanut oil has become a popular choice of oil lately. This popularity isn’t baseless, the advantages of peanut oil are numerous. Although it contains about 20% saturated fat, peanut oil is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. In fact, 50% of the whole fat content of peanut oil accounts for monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid. Above in this post, we’ve discussed the importance (and effectiveness) of oleic acid on weight loss.
Vitamin E is present in abundance in peanut oil. Studies show that vitamin E exhibits antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-hypertensive, and anti-hypercholesterolemic effects (16).
Probably the best thing about peanut oil is its high smoking point. For that reason, you can use this oil for high-heat cooking e.g. in pans and woks. Since most oils can’t stand high heat that well, it’s useful to have peanut oil in the kitchen. That way, you’ll have a healthier option to cook over high heat, instead of hydrogenated oils and other unhealthy alternatives.
8. Macadamia nut oil
Macadamia nut oil is not easy to find, but it’s worth looking for it. You see, about 84% of the fat in macadamia nut oil is monounsaturated and it is abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids (17). Besides Omega-3 fatty acids which support heart health, immune system, alleviate inflammation, macadamia nut oil is a rich source of oleic acid and vitamin E. The nutritional composition of macadamia nut oil supports weight loss and weight management.
Unlike peanut oil, macadamia nut oil has a medium-to-high smoke point. That means this oil is most suitable for baking, oven cooking, and stir-frying. Although it’s tricky to find it, once you try macadamia nut oil you’ll see why it’s become popular among people who live a healthy lifestyle.
9. Sesame oil
Sesame oil is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian cuisine. This oil contains sesamol and sesaminol, two powerful antioxidants. Sesame oil can also alleviate inflammation and help control blood sugar levels.
Containing polyunsaturated fatty acids, sesame oil can influence levels of leptin (satiety hormone). By increasing leptin levels, sesame oil can prevent you from overeating and thereby help you slim down (18). The biggest obstacle for most people is the tendency to overeat which undermines their weight loss efforts. With sesame oil, it can be easier to regulate appetite.
Bear in mind there are different varieties of sesame oil. Each variety has a slightly different aroma and flavor. Unrefined sesame oil is light in color and has a nutty flavor. Refined sesame oil has a neutral flavor and it’s heavily processed. In terms of cooking, unrefined oil is most suitable for low-to-medium heat while refined sesame oil is best suited for deep- or stir-frying.
10. Walnut oil
Walnut oil has a delicate, nutty flavor and it delivers health benefits for which walnuts are known. This oil is an abundant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily ALA, but also contains linoleic acid (LA).
Consumption of walnut oil can decrease inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked with numerous health problems ranging from cardiovascular disease to certain types of arthritis. Walnut oil can also help regulate blood pressure and improve blood glucose control.
The polyunsaturated fatty acid content in walnut oil may increase diet-induced calorie burn and resting metabolic rate. As you’re already aware, calorie-burning is important for successful weight loss and proper weight management.
Walnut oil is light in color, but it’s not the only factor to consider when buying this oil. To get the most out of walnut oil, you need to choose wisely. The best effects come from unrefined and cold-pressed walnut oil. Processed alternatives aren’t as beneficial as they are presented to seem. You see, during processing, the heat can destroy some nutrients. That’s why processed walnut oils have somewhat a bitter taste whereas unrefined oil has a nutty flavor.
Bear in mind that walnut oil isn’t a fan of heat. You shouldn’t use it for hot surface cooking and high-temperature baking.
Cooking methods and ingredients we choose, have a major impact on the weight loss efforts. Oil is the cooking staple, but not all oils are the same. Some cooking oils can support and promote weight loss while others can’t. This post focused on cooking oils that are beneficial for weight loss. If you’re trying to slim down, cooking oil options are numerous. You may want to get several varieties, experiment with different ingredients, and see which oils meet your needs the most. Keep in mind that besides healthy oils, you should also make sure you eat a healthy and well-balanced diet in general.