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How To Use Oils To Prevent Heart Disease?

March 15, 2022
11 min read
How To Use Oils To Prevent Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and the incidence is rapidly increasing in developing countries, especially India. The type and quantity of fats we consume daily dictate the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in our blood. Excess saturated fat consumption could lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular conditions, including coronary heart disease. While you can track the quantity of fats in your diet by using the Hint app, it is equally important to choose the right source of these fats. Cooking oils are a primary and indispensable source of fats in our diets. While an array of oils are available in the market, choosing oils that are healthy for the heart and overall health is very important. Edible oils have three components mainly saturated fatty acids (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). In addition, edible oils contain various antioxidants, phytosterols, and micronutrients1.

How Does Repeated Frying Change Oil Composition?

Indian cooking methods vary significantly compared to other parts of the world, and the temperatures sometimes reach as high as 170 ℃. When oils are subjected to high temperatures, they reach a smoking point that is not stable. Repeated frying of the oil can further damage the oil and produce more toxic components that are highly harmful to the heart. These high temperatures damage the antioxidants, micronutrients, and phytosterols and produce free radicals and trans fatty acids, which are detrimental to the heart and cause clogged arteries.

What Is The Difference Between Refined, Unrefined, And Cold-Pressed Oils?

Refined oils undergo many mechanical and chemical treatments during extraction from seeds and vegetables. During refining, many of the nutrients and antioxidants are lost; thus, only the fatty component is left. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), both suspected of causing cancer and brain damage, are often added to these oils to replace vitamin E and other natural preservatives destroyed by heat.

Unrefined oil is obtained by pressing the seeds or other vegetable material. Healthwise, unrefined oils are considered better and recommended due to the presence of a wide range of bioactive compounds (antioxidants), flavors, and vitamin E content.

We do have cold-pressed oils, which are produced by the use of a hydraulic press. It is an ancient method and yields the best quality oil. These oils are the closest possible to the natural state; therefore, they have the most color, odor, and flavor – and are most nutritious. However, they are usually unavailable or expensive because little oil is produced this way.

Which Oils Are Healthy?

Several oils are available in the market, but you should choose oils based on the factors such as -intended use (oils with a high smoke point for deep frying), -ability to stay on the shelf, and -the fatty acid composition (more importantly, the ratio between PUFA, MUFA, SFA).

Moreover, many oils have some unique component or characteristic which makes them especially useful.

1. Mustard oil:

Mustard oil is considered one of the healthiest edible oils as it has a low amount of SFAs and a high amount of MUFA and PUFA fatty acids, which are good for health. Compared to other oils, mustard oil has several health benefits. The omega 6: omega - 3 ratio of mustard oil is near ideal 6:5, unlike olive oil where it is 20:1. It also has a high content of antioxidants and vitamin E. 100 ml of this oil contains 12 grams of saturated fats, 36 grams of MUFA, and 16 grams of PUFA.

2. Canola oil:

Canola oil is low in saturated fatty acids (less than 7%), is high in MUFA, and has a beneficial omega-3 fatty acid profile. It is recommended by many health professional organizations, including the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and American Heart Association (AHA). Canola oil has been considered healthy food by the FDA as well. 100 ml of this oil contains 7 grams of saturated fats, 63 grams of MUFA, and 28 grams of PUFA.

3.Olive oil:

Health benefits of this oil are as good as magic in individuals suffering from obesity or heart health problems. Olive oil is considered the best oil because it has the highest (75 %) content of MUFA among all other oils. Furthermore, it also contains a valuable antioxidant known as hydroxytyrosol, which plays a significant role in the many health benefits attributed to olive oil. Please note that the least processed forms of olive oil, extra virgin or virgin olive oil, have more MUFA than other olive oil. 100 ml of this oil contains 14 grams of saturated fatty acids, 73 grams of MUFA, and 11 grams of PUFA.

4. Soybean oil:

Soybean oil is one of the most widely consumed cooking oils. It contains saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and high polyunsaturated fats. In addition, it also has vitamins E and K. This oil turns rancid due to its high linolenic acid content; hence should be used fresh. 100ml of this oil contains 16 grams of saturated fatty acids, 23 grams of MUFA, and 58 grams of PUFA.

5. Rice bran oil:

Rice bran oil is perhaps one of the most balanced oils containing a range of fats. It is also rich in vitamin E, gamma-oryzanol, a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent heart attacks, and phytosterols, providing associated health benefits. 100ml of this oil contains 20 grams of saturated fat, 39 grams of MUFA, and 35 grams of PUFA.

6. Cottonseed oil:

It is cooking oil extracted from the seeds of cotton plants of various species. However, the health benefits of this oil are controversial; it is too high in saturated fat and too low in monounsaturated fat. 100 ml of this oil contains 26 grams of saturated fat, 18 grams of MUFA, and 52 grams of PUFA.

7. Sunflower oil:

Sunflower oil is high in PUFA and the essential vitamin E and low in SFA. In addition, it is rich in lecithin, tocopherols, carotenoids, and waxes. The saturated fat content of this oil is 10 grams, whereas MUFA is 20 grams and PUFA is 66 grams in 100ml.

8. Corn oil:

Corn oil (maize oil) is an oil extracted from the germ of corn. Its primary use is in cooking, where its high smoke point makes it valuable for frying purposes.100 ml of this oil contains 13 grams of saturated fat, 28 grams of MUFA, and 53 grams of PUFA.

9. Groundnut oil:

Primary fatty acids in this oil are oleic acid (MUFA), linoleic acid (PUFA), and palmitic acid (SFA). It also contains stearic acid, arachidic acid, arachidonic acid, behenic acid, lignoceric acid, and other fatty acids. Groundnut oil is a heart-friendly oil rich in MUFA and otherwise well balanced. 100 ml of this oil contains 17 grams of saturated fats, 46 grams of MUFA, and 32 grams of PUFA.

10. Safflower oil:

Even though safflower oil is rich in MUFA and very low in PUFA, it is not one of the healthiest fats. While its consumption may cause the lowering of total and LDL cholesterol, it may also cause the lowering of HDL cholesterol. 100 ml of safflower oil contains 8 grams of saturated fat, 75 grams of MUFA, and 12 grams of PUFA.

11. Coconut oil:

Coconut oil has been the primary source of fat for millions of people across generations throughout the tropical world. Being a plant fat, it contains no cholesterol but consists of more than ninety percent of SFAs, with traces of a few unsaturated fatty acids, such as MUFA and PUFA. Lauric Acid is the chief contributor, with more than 40% of the share, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid, and palmitic. Although lauric acid is a saturated fat that raises blood cholesterol levels, it mainly increases the amount of HDL cholesterol and thus reduces the risk of heart disease. It also contains vitamin E, vitamin K, and minerals such as iron. Every 100 ml of coconut oil contains 82 grams of saturated fat and 6 grams of MUFA and 2 grams of PUFA.

12. Ghee:

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been produced and utilized in India from ancient times. Ghee is nutritionally superior to other oils/fats because of its medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are absorbed directly by the liver and burned to provide energy. Ghee has been considered immensely superior to other fats mainly because of the presence of characteristic short-chain fatty acids, carrier of four fat-soluble vitamins, i.e., A, D, E, K, and essential fatty acids such as linolenic acid and arachidonic acid2. It could help prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, you should consume no more than 1 to 2 teaspoons of ghee per day as it contains high saturated fat. 100 grams of ghee includes 62 grams of saturated fat, 28 grams of MUFA, and 3 grams of PUFA.

Which Oils Are Unhealthy?

1. Palm oil:

Palm oil is one of the cheapest oils produced worldwide and has significant limitations such as high saturated fat content and less than ideal N-6: N-3 ratio of 20:1. As described in the Hint app, most processed foods such as potato chips and biscuits are manufactured using this oil and thus, are harmful to health. 100ml of palm oil contains 49 grams of saturated fat, 37 grams of MUFA, and 9 grams of PUFA.

2. Butter:

It is a fat derived from animal sources and is high in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. Eating food made with butter can raise total and LDL cholesterol in your blood. Butter is a good flavoring agent and can be used for baking and preparing sauces but has a low smoke point; therefore cannot be used for deep frying. 100 grams of butter contains 51 grams of saturated fat, 21 grams of MUFA, and 3 grams of PUFA.

3. Vanaspati ghee:

It is essentially a refined vegetable oil that has been made more stable. Furthermore, vanaspati ghee is the unhealthiest of all oils because it lacks natural vitamins and bio-active compounds. As a result of the hydrogenation process, it even contains an undesirable type of fat called trans fat. Consumption of this fat leads to the worst kind of blood lipid profile possible and has been directly correlated with the development of coronary artery disease. 100 grams of vanaspati ghee contains 61 grams of saturated fat, 34 grams of MUFA, and 5 grams of PUFA3.

What Is The Benefit Of Blending Oils or Rotation of Oils?

While we have seen clearly from the nutrient profiles described above that no two oils have the same fatty acid composition, blending oils is preferred rather than using the same oil every month to maximize the nutritional benefits. This approach offers a balance of fatty acids and antioxidants and is perhaps used to enhance oxidative and thermal stability. For instance, when rice bran and safflower oils are blended in a 70:30 ratio with added antioxidants, it improves several lipid parameters and specific inflammatory markers among the subjects4.

Likewise, in a study, it was found that canola and flaxseeds oil, when blended and used, effectively reduced serum total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol5.

Hence, we can conclude that blending oils is the most viable option to achieve dietary recommendations and reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors.

When blending oils is not practically possible, rotation of oils is a better choice to reduce the risk of various cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. You can rotate edible oils daily or once in 15 days, or every month. For example, if you use groundnut oil for cooking on one day, you can use sunflower oil the next day and continue this process on alternate days. Likewise, you can follow this practice once in 15 days or once a month.


1.Manchanda SC, Passi SJ. Selecting healthy edible oil in the Indian context. Indian Heart J. 2016;68(4):447-449.

2.Kumar, Anil & Naik, Satya. Ghee: Its Properties, Importance and Health Benefits. (2018).

3.Bharti, Deepa Indoria, R.L. Solanki and Meena, B.S. 2017. A Comparative Impact Study of Edible Oils on Health. Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci. 6(11): 601-612

4.Upadya H., Devaraju C.J., Joshi S.R. Anti-inflammatory properties of blended edible oil with synergistic antioxidants. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2015;19(4):511–519. {:target="_blank"}

5.Gillingham L.G., Gustafson J.A., Han S.Y., Jassal D.S., Jones P.J.H. high-oleic rapeseed (canola) and flaxseed oils modulate serum lipids and inflammatory biomarkers in hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Br J Nutr. 2011;105:417–427.

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