Kitchen fats include lard, shortening, butter, hard margarine and cooking oils. Are you using the best ones?
What Makes Fat So Bad?
All fats are high in calories. But this isn’t the only problem with fats. Many fats we eat contain saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fat and trans fat are bad because they raise the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood and can lead to atherosclerosis—the build-up of fatty material (plaque) in the inner walls of your arteries.
Saturated fat is usually found in meat and dairy foods (e.g., butter, whole and 2% milk and dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, etc.). Commercially baked and fried foods often contain trans fat, as well as hard margarine, vegetable shortening and other foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. To keep arteries healthy, use liquid fats (oils). The best ones are olive, canola, corn and safflower oils, because they contain the least saturated fat.
How To Use the Good Oils
You can use olive, canola, corn or safflower oil just like any other cooking oil. For example, use them:
- To make your own salad dressing
- To grill, sauté or stir-fry foods
- To prepare recipes that call for oil
Both butter and hard margarine have drawbacks. They both contain a lot of fat and calories. They also contain some of the worst types of fat, both saturated fat and trans fat. Butter has a high amount of saturated fat and some trans fat, while many hard margarines are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” so they contain a high amount of trans fat in addition to saturated fat. Both of these bad fats can raise your blood cholesterol and contribute to atherosclerosis.
The best choice for your health is a liquid margarine, or a soft margarine in a tub. These are made with less partially hydrogenated fat than hard stick margarine. Look for margarines that are free of trans fat.
Kitchen Fats Quiz
Fats and Sodium Explorer
Learn more about fats and oils:
Fats: Know Your Fats
Fats and Oils: AHA Recommendation
Goal 4 to Eating Healthy