- Cooking oils are a source of fat, but some types of cooking oils may be more beneficial for people with diabetes.
- The American Diabetes Association recommends consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats over saturated and trans fats.
- Cooking with sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help to improve and protect heart health.
Though demonized over the decades in diet and wellness culture, fat is an essential nutrient in the body and an important component of a healthy, balanced diet. In the body, fat helps to support organs, store energy, aid cell growth, and more. Research also suggests that dietary fats can help to support healthy aging and reduce the risk of dementia.
Cooking oils are a rich source of dietary fats, but not all cooking oils contain the same type of fat. In this article, you’ll learn which types of cooking oil are more beneficial if you have diabetes and how to incorporate these sources of healthy fats into your diet.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling to help you customize your diet to meet your diabetes needs. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.
Types of Fat
When choosing which fats to incorporate into your diet, there are four main types to consider:
- Polyunsaturated: Often referred to as “healthy fat,” polyunsaturated fats have been associated with improved heart health. Omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids are both examples of polyunsaturated fats. Though our bodies are unable to produce these fatty acids on their own, research suggests that these fats may help improve heart health and heart disease risk factors, reduce the risk of some cancers, and improve cognitive function.
- Monounsaturated: Monounsaturated fats are also referred to as “healthy fats.” Consumption of these fats has been associated with lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.
- Saturated: Most saturated fats come from animal products. Some saturated fats can also be found in tropical oils, like coconut oils. High consumption of these fats is associated with an elevated risk of heart disease and an increase in cholesterol levels.
- Trans: Most trans fats found in foods are produced by an industrial process called hydrogenation, which is why you can identify them on a food product’s nutrition facts label by searching for the words “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oils.” These types of trans fats have been found to increase LDL levels, as well as the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, a condition marked by the build-up of plaque on the artery walls.
What to Look for in a Cooking Oil for Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends eating and cooking with sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats over saturated and trans fats. In cooking oils, this means looking for plant and seed oils over animal products, shortenings, or tropical oils (like palm oils).
5 Best Cooking Oils for Diabetes
The best cooking oils for diabetes are oils that are sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Below are some examples of healthy cooking oil options for diabetes.
Extra virgin olive oil
According to statistics from 2021, the rate of olive oil consumption in the United States is rising. Extra virgin olive oil is particularly high in monounsaturated fats. Results from meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials suggest that the monounsaturated fats in extra virgin olive oil may have a beneficial effect on metabolic risk factors in type 2 diabetes patients, including blood sugar management and HbA1C levels.
Avocado oil is another rich source of monounsaturated fats. In general, consumption of monounsaturated fats may help to reduce LDL levels, which is an important marker for heart health. One animal study also suggests that avocado oil may help to improve brain function in diabetic rats, but more research is needed to determine whether this oil may help to delay the onset of diabetic encephalopathy in humans.
Sesame oil is a rich source of polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and amino acids. Some research suggests that consumption of sesame oil may help to protect heart health and have anti-inflammatory effects. One study of 46 participants found that white sesame seed oil may help to reduce fasting blood sugar and HbA1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, more large-scale research is needed to support these findings.
Flaxseed oil is a great source of omega-3 fats, which have been associated with improved heart health. A recent animal study also suggests that flaxseed oil may help to suppress the severity of type 2 diabetes by reducing fasting blood sugar levels and suppressing inflammation in rats with diabetes. As with any animal study, more research in humans is needed to confirm these findings.
Canola oil is a type of plant oil rich in polyunsaturated fats, specifically omega-3s. The results of one trial of 141 participants published in Diabetes Care Symposium found that a canola oil-enriched, low-glycemic load diet improved blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, and especially in people with raised systolic blood pressure levels.
Tips for Using Cooking Oils with Diabetes
There are many ways to use cooking oils when preparing food for a diabetes-friendly meal plan. Below are a few factors you may want to take into consideration when cooking with oils for diabetes.
Prioritize plant and seed oils
Plant and seed oils, like olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil, are more likely to be sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils. These are the oils most recommended by the ADA.
Check the nutrition facts label
Some plant oils, like coconut and palm oils, contain saturated fat. Saturated fat can be less beneficial for heart health, which can be of particular concern when you have diabetes. If you’re unsure about whether a product you’re buying contains saturated or trans fats, you can always check the nutrition facts label before purchasing.
Be mindful of portion sizes
Healthy fat is an essential component of any meal plan, but it’s important to be mindful of how much oil you’re using when cooking diabetes-friendly meals. Current guidelines suggest limiting daily fat intake to 20-35% of your daily calories, but this recommendation may vary depending on your personal health goals and factors. If you’re unsure about how to monitor your cooking oil intake, you can consult with a registered dietitian for their recommendation.
Make sure you like the taste
Different cooking oils will impart different flavors to your meals, including your salads, soups, and sautees. Experiment with different cooking oils to find the one that best suits your unique preferences and tastes.
If you’re interested in how best to use cooking oils for your health, Nourish can connect you with a registered dietitian specialized in diabetes management and meal planning. If you need help optimizing your diet, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Fat is an important component of any healthy diet, but not all sources of fat are equally beneficial for people with diabetes. Cooking oils that are sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil, may help to protect heart health and manage type 2 diabetes. And according to the ADA, it’s a good idea to limit your consumption of oils that contain saturated and/or trans fats.
Managing Diabetes with an RD
Understanding which foods may benefit your health when you have diabetes can be confusing. Working with a registered dietitian can help you to identify foods that can help to satisfy your tastes and manage your diabetes with ease.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
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