What fats are best in food? | Healthy Living | DW | 05.01.2018

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Healthy Living

What fats are best in food?

There are all sorts of dietary fats, from butter, to oils, to margarine. Though fats have a reputation for causing weight gain, they’re essential to cooking. The healthiest and most flavorful dietary fats.

Butter or margarine? When it comes to sandwiches and similar foods, whether you use butter or margarine is largely a matter of personal preference. Many prefer the taste of butter. But in the past, butter’s reputation has suffered due to its animal-fat content. Consumed in moderation, though, butter doesn’t pose a risk to health. And one-quarter of the saturated fat in butter is made up of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which are beneficial to health.

The best oil for your salad? When it comes to salads, all plant-based oils with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids are a good choice. These oils contain the essential fatty acids that our bodies can’t produce themselves. Sunflower, corn, rapeseed, flaxseed, and walnut oils are all excellent choices. The last three of these oils are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. When these oils are extra virgin and cold-pressed – meaning they’ve been produced using traditional and natural methods – these oils also contain natural flavorings and phytosterols (plant sterols structurally similar to cholesterol, contained in the cell walls of the plants).

What oils are best to use for cooking? Most dietary fats and oils can be used to cook and steam foods. Temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius are not a concern. But during frying, temperatures can increase up to 200 degrees Celsius. Not every oil can tolerate such high temperatures. Some oils start to break down under very high heat, and the flavor also degrades. What’s worse: when overheated, some oils can form harmful compounds. Olive oil is a good choice for frying - but it should be refined olive oil, where harmful substances have been removed. That also makes the oil more stable, so that it can tolerate heat up to 200 degrees Celsius.

Linseed, safflower, walnut and pumpkin oils are almost always cold-pressed. They shouldn’t be used for frying.

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