Comparing Health Benefits of Oils

By Paleo
In Learn About Paleo
Jan 9th, 2012

When embarking on a paleolithic diet, the use of healthy fats, including oils, is encouraged, but there are so many oils to choose from that it can become difficult to know which oils to use and which to avoid. Oils that are used in paleo recipes often provide invaluable health benefits, as well as a tasty addition to your paleo foods!

Paleo diets often call for the use of plant-based oils, most of which contain unsaturated fats. Some of the most common oils used in Paleo recipes and paleo cooking include olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Below is a comparison of these common oils, which can help you decide which oil is best for you, depending on which paleo recipe you may be preparing.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a very popular choice for cooking and recipes, even those that aren’t Paleo. It is best to use olive oil in paleo recipes that aren’t going to be cooked at a high temperature, as cooking olive oil at a high heat level can decrease the taste. It is recommended that olive oil be used as a topper for foods that are already cooked, or as a salad dressing. The use of extra-virgin olive oil is also optimal for Paleo cooking. The fats found in olive oil can help lower cholesterol, and aid in the normalization of blood sugar and insulin levels, which can be particularly beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Walnut Oil

If you’re looking to go outside of the norm and use a different kind of oil, rather than the typical olive or coconut, walnut oil is a great choice. It is an oil is high in beneficial Omega-3 fats, which can lead to a lowered risk of cardiac diseases such as coronary heart disease. Walnut oil is also high in antioxidants, which can reduce the amount of free radicals found in the body. Free radicals are responsible for cell damage and the speeding up of the aging process.

Walnut oil, like olive oil, is best used when uncooked. It can be used in cold dressings and sauces, brushed on top of fish or meat after it is cooked or in paleo-friendly dessert recipes.

Coconut Oil

While many oils don’t hold up well under extremely high cooking temperatures, coconut oil is a choice that will allow you to cook at high temperatures while maintain the structure and nutritional value of the oil. Coconut oil generally ranks as one of the favorites of followers of the paleolithic diet, as it has a great deal of health benefits. Coconut oil is derived of primarily saturated fat, which can sound scary, but its composition makes it very easy to cook with, and it does well when prepared with heat.

The main fatty acid found in coconut oil is Lauric acid, which is the easiest of the fatty acids to digest.

The use of coconut oil has been shown to aid in reduced cholesterol levels, increased immunity, healthier skin and hair, lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes and lower blood pressure, among others.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is often considered a light and flavorful alternative to olive oil. It is generally extra-virgin and cold-pressed, so it goes through minimal processing. Avocado oil is great for pan-frying, as it fares well under high temperatures. Avocado oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, and it lends itself to a variety of health benefits, including the protection of the cardiovascular system, the prevention of cancer, faster healing abilities, improved appearance of the skin and the protection of blood vessels.

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