Cooking oils hold a significant position in our diets primarily because they are vital components of certain cooking styles, add flavour and taste to the food items and enhance nutritive value of food.
Oils are a mixture of fats: saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are saturated with hydrogen and generally considered to elevate cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats are the opposite. They are healthy and are further dived as monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) based on the degree of unsaturation.
Trans fat are a type of unsaturated fats which are associated with cardiovascular risk and weight gain.
All saturated fats do not adversely affect cholesterol levels. Coconut oil and palm oil are rich in saturated fats but research proves that consumption of these oils can lower blood cholesterol.
It is also important to note that certain levels of saturated fat are essential for body’s functioning.
Apart from fats cooking oils are a good source of vitamins. Another essential factor regarding nutritive value of oil is its stability at high temperatures.
Certain oils get oxidised at high temperatures and produce harmful products which should be avoided.
The different modes by which cooking oils aid in weight loss are:
- Healthy cooking oils provide unsaturated oils that do not cause weight gain.
- Cooking oils can enhance the nutritive value of the food such as meat or fish based on the cooking style and temperature.
- Certain fats present in cooking oils can boost metabolism and help burn calories.
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6 Cooking Oils That Aid In Weight loss
Cooking oils have varying ranges of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Following studies report which cooking oils are helpful when it comes to weight loss.
1.Medium Chain Triacylglycerides oil
As mentioned previously oils consist of different fats. Medium chain triacylglycerol (MCT) fatty acids consist 6 to 12 carbon atoms and are favoured because easily oxidised in the body and rarely stored as fat. Coconut oil and palm oil are good sources of MCT.
Long chain triglycerides (LCT) have around 12-18 carbon atoms. These provide more calories to the body and hence promote weight gain.
Diacylglycerol and triacylglycerol are natural components of vegetable oils but a oil rich in DAG is preferred as such oils are not easily deposited as fats. Following studies indicate how various fats present in cooking oils promote weight loss.
Research proves that consumption of medium chain triacylglycerol oil improves body weight and promotes fat loss. In this study activity of MCT oil was compared to that of olive oil.
Consumption of MCT oil resulted in more significant weight loss than olive oil. Reduction in total fat, abdominal fat and trunk fat mass was observed in MCT oil group.
Researchers concluded that consumption of MCT oil as a part of weight loss program results in better weight loss outcomes than olive oil.
An experimental study was conducted to evaluate the effects of diacylglycerol rich mustard oil on normal rats and rats suffering from high cholesterol levels. Diacylglycerol rich mustard oil lowered body weight in both groups. A reduction in total cholesterol levels was observed.
DAG rich oil also reduced blood leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that influences appetite and deposition of fat. These findings suggest that DAG rich oil can prevent obesity and body fat accumulation.
A clinical trial compared the effect of triacylglycerol and diacylglycerol oil(DAG) on body weight. In the study food products like muffins, cookies, crackers etc containing either of the oil were included in a restricted energy diet and given to the obese subjects.
At the end of the trial loss in body weight and fat mass was more significant in DAG oil group than triacylglycerol group. According to the study food items containing DAG oil can help lose body fat and can be used as an adjunct therapy in weight loss programs.
Research was conducted to examine the effect of consumption of medium chain triacylglycerol (MCT) oil on burning calories and loss of fat tissue. Its activity was compared with long chain triacylglycerol (LCT) oil.
MCT oil consumption resulted in greater weight loss. Burning of calories resulting in lower deposition of fats was more significant in MCT group. However this effect of MCT oil was found to be dependent on initial weight of the individual.
What does this mean?
Different fats and their degree of saturation and unsaturation impact body weight. Oils which are rich in Medium chain Triacylglycerides such as coconut oil and palm oil are good for weight loss. Oils which have a higher proportion of Diacylglycerol also promote weight loss.
2. Olive oil
Olive oil is extracted from olive fruit and originates in the Mediterranean region. Olive oil is rich in healthy fats and is reported to act against a number of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
A survey was conducted to examine whether olive consumption can increase the likelihood of weight gain or lead to obesity. This study was focussed on Mediterranean diet pattern.
It was found that higher consumption of olive oil was associated with lower likelihood of weight gain.
Overall the study stated in a sample of regular population, high consumption of olive oil is not linked with increased risk of weight gain or obesity as far as Mediterranean diet is concerned.
Consumption of extra virgin olive oil has been associated with a decrease in risk of breast cancer. Therefore a study was organized to test whether olive oil enriched diet can lead to better weight loss than standard low fat diet.
The olive oil enriched diet brought about a weight loss of around 5% or more of initial body weight. Also subjects preferred the olive oil enriched diet and continued to consume it for the follow up period of 6 months.
According to the study olive oil enriched diet is successful in promoting weight loss in breast cancer survivors.
A 3 year experimental study was designed to observe the effect of Mediterranean rich in virgin olive oil and nuts on body weight and other parameters in patients highly susceptible to cardiovascular diseases.
The Mediterranean diet was compared to standard low fat diet. It was found that consumption of Mediterranean diet significantly improved the antioxidant status of the subjects and this was associated with a decrease in body weight over the 3 year period.
What does this mean?
Olive oil is healthy for heart and good for weight loss.
Coconut oil is extracted from kernel of the coconut and is commonly used in South India. It is shunned because of its rich saturated fat content but recent research proves that saturated fat from coconut oil is healthy. Virgin coconut oil is the healthiest option.
The effect of coconut oil consumption on abdominal obesity has been documented. In this study subjects were given either soybean oil or coconut oil with a low calorie diet and exercise.
Reduction in BMI was seen in both groups but coconut oil group experienced a decrease in waist circumference. Also coconut oil did not bring about increase in total cholesterol as soybean oil.
It was concluded that a diet supplemented with coconut oil reduces abdominal obesity without posing any adverse effects on blood cholesterol levels.
Virgin coconut oil was tested for its efficacy in weight reduction and safety for use in healthy obese individuals. At the end of the study a significant decrease in waist circumference was observed suggesting the use of virgin coconut oil in treating abdominal obesity.
Slight decrease in weight and body fat was also observed.
What does this mean?
Forget the old myth that coconut oil results in bad cholesterol. Coconut oil is beneficial for cutting down on belly fat. Also it is rich in Medium Chain Triacylglycerides which aids in weight loss.
4.Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is oil extracted from rice husk. It is rich in Vitamin E and contains an antioxidant named y-oryzanol. It is known for improving blood cholesterol.
In a study investigating the influence of rice bran oil on hyperlipidemia, patients were given either a low calorie diet or a low calorie diet supplemented with rice bran oil.
Significant reduction in weight, BMI, waist and hip circumferences was seen in both groups. However improvement in cholesterol and blood lipid levels was observed in rice bran oil group.
According to the study, consumption of a diet supplemented with rice bran oil can help with weight loss and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
What does this mean?
Rice bran oil is healthy cooking oil that can be used as an adjunct to weight loss diet.
Safflower oil is extracted from seeds of the safflower plant and produced mainly in India, USA and Mexico. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E.
A study was organized to compare the effect of conjugated linoleic acid (scientific term for a type of fat that is popularly used as a weight loss supplement) and safflower oil on body weight of obese postmenopausal women suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Conjugated linoleic acid resulted in low BMI and loss of total fat mass without causing a loss of muscle mass. On the other hand safflower oil consumption did not affect BMI and total body mass but reduced trunk fat mass and increased lean mass. Safflower oil improved blood glucose.
It was concluded that both these dietary oils exert different effects on BMI and body fat but are beneficial for weight loss.
What does this mean?
Safflower oil is as efficient as the weight loss supplement, conjugated linoleic acid in promoting weight loss.
Sesame oil is extracted from sesame seeds. It is a popularly used as a cooking oil in South India.
In a study focused on the effect of sesame oil on patients suffering from high blood pressure, the subjects were asked to replace their regular cooking oil with sesame oil for 45 days.
A significant reduction in body weight and body mass was observed. However withdrawal of sesame oil consumption led to increase in weight. This suggested that sesame oil was the sole factor influencing body weight.
Researchers concluded that polyunsaturated fatty acids present in sesame oil influenced leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and fat deposition.
Sesame seeds are reported to be therapeutic for hypercholesterolemia while olive oil is famous for its favourable effects on blood lipid levels. A study was organized to compare the effect of both these dietary oils on hypercholesterolemia.
Both groups experienced a decrease in weight, BMI and waist circumference. Improvement in lipid profiles was observed in both groups but sesame oil had a more pronounced effect.
What does this mean?
Sesame oil is as effective as oil in promoting weight loss. It is also proven to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
How much cooking oil should you consume daily?
Fats should account for 25-30% of your daily calorie intake. Saturated fats are limited to 16g a day. An upper limit for cooking oil would be 20 g.
Greeks on an average consume 5-6 tablespoon of olive oil. The recommended dose for coconut oil is 2 tablespoons. So a safe conclusion would be 4 tablespoon of cooking oil as upper limit per day.
Medium chain triglyceride oil (found naturally in palm oil and coconut oil) and Olive oil are the some of the healthy cooking oils that support weight loss without posing any adverse effects.
Less commonly used oils that are proven to aid in weight loss are ricebran oil, sesame oil and safflower oil. One should keep in mind that the temperatures at which oils are heated also affect their nutritive outcome. Also it is preferable and healthy to use organic oils.