Switching from a diet high in saturated fat to one high in monounsaturated fat may help you lose a small amount of extra weight even if you don't eat fewer calories, according to a study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" in September 2003. No single cooking oil is suitable for all uses, but a number of oils are available with relatively high monounsaturated fat content.
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils and is suitable for cooking in the oven and stir-frying. Refined olive oil doesn't contain as many of the beneficial substances as extra virgin but has a higher smoke point, making it suitable for cooking at higher heat. Both extra virgin and refined olive oil contain 78 percent monounsaturated fat and 14 percent saturated fat.
Canola oil also provides mainly monounsaturated fat, with 62 percent, and contains only 7 percent saturated fat, making it one of the oils lowest in saturated fat. Canola oil also has a small amount of essential omega-3 fats. It has a medium-high smoke point, like extra virgin olive oil, but has a milder flavor. You can use it for making any dishes except those that require browning, searing or deep-frying at high heat.
Nut and Seed Oils
Some nut and seed oils also provide high amounts of monounsaturated fats. Hazelnut oil has a high smoke point and 82 percent monounsaturated fat, with just 7 percent saturated fat. Sunflower seed oil contains 79 percent monounsaturated fat and 14 percent saturated fat, and almond oil contains 65 percent monounsaturated fat and 7 percent saturated fat. Both of these oils have high smoke points, making them good for all types of cooking. Macadamia nut oil has a slightly lower smoke point, similar to that of canola and extra virgin olive oil, but contains 84 percent monounsaturated fat and 13 percent saturated fat. Walnut, sesame, pumpkin seed and peanut oils all contain less than 50 percent monounsaturated fat, making them less beneficial for weight loss.
Regardless of which oil you choose, you'll need to consume it in moderation if you want to lose weight. All oils are basically 100 percent fat, with 9 calories per gram. One tablespoon of oil contains about 124 calories. You need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit for each pound you want to lose. This means eating fewer calories, exercising more or a combination of these two approaches.
- British Journal of Nutrition: Substitution of Saturated With Monounsaturated Fat in a 4-Week Diet Affects Body Weight and Composition of Overweight and Obese Men
- Eating Well: Cooking Oils Guide
- Real Simple: Oils
- American Heart Association: Healthy Cooking Oils 101
- Cleveland Clinic: Heart-Healthy Cooking: Oils 101
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool