14 August 2023

The best fats and oils for optimum heart health

Opt for healthier fats like unsaturated oils in your cooking and dressings

Fats and oils are full of energy and vitamins so use the smart healthier ones, like olive oil and rapeseed oil. Minimise the use of saturated fats and trans fats, which can be detrimental to heart health. As hospitality and restaurant operators, you can positively influence your customers’ health and well-being through the meals you serve. By providing balanced and nutritious options, you can promoting healthier eating habits.

We asked our nutritionist Kate Law, Founder and Director of The Food Boss, a nutrition consultancy specialising in women’s health and sports nutrition to tell us which fats and oils are best for optimum heart health. She explains the effects of different fats on the body and outlines what a balanced intake of fat could look like over a day.

Which fats and oils are best for optimum heart health?

Compared to carbohydrates and protein which both provide 4 calories per gram, fats provide us with over double that at 9 calories per gram. (1) This means that we must be mindful of the quantities we use and make good choices around the different types available to us.

Fats provide our bodies with energy but are also a carrier for vitamins A and D to be transported around the body (1). These are known as fat soluble vitamins. Ensuring we consume enough fat within our diet is also important as fat stores are required for us to stay warm and insulate our organs.

Fat comes in a several different forms and ensuring we have a mix of these is what’s most important. There is not one “best” fat or oil to use. Butter is almost entirely saturated fat whereas an olive oil or rapeseed oil contain mostly unsaturated fat. A very easy way to understand which type of fat the main component is, would be if it is solid or liquid at room temperature. Those that are solid such as butter or coconut oil contain mostly saturated fat and those which are a liquid such as rapeseed oil contain mostly unsaturated fat.

What are the effects of different fats on the body and heart health?

Eating too much saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels within the body. There are also other factors such as genetics which can influence these levels too so it’s important to generally consume more unsaturated fats than saturated fats. (2)

Rapeseed oil is an unsaturated fat and there is good evidence to suggest that having a higher ratio of unsaturated fat to saturated fat can help to lower cholesterol levels. This doesn’t mean we should completely remove saturated fat from our diet, but it does mean we should aim to include more unsaturated fat. A high intake of saturated fat has been shown to increase levels of LDL cholesterol which can increase your risk of heart disease or stroke by causing blockages in your arteries. (1)

The other type of fat which is yet to be mentioned is trans fats (or partially hydrogenated fats) which are used in food manufacturing to prolong shelf life. They are linked to an increase in cholesterol levels and despite trans fats not yet being banned in the UK (like many other countries) many manufacturers signed a voluntary agreement in 2012 committing to remove them from processing. They are commonly found in heavily processed sweet foods and fast foods and are dangerous because their chemical structure is artificially changed for them to be useful. This is really the only type of fat we don’t require. (3)

What could a balanced intake of fat look like over a day?

Whilst there are many ways to include fats and oils into your daily diet below are a few examples of meals and ingredients you could use to ensure you are obtaining a wide variety.

  • Breakfast: 2 free range eggs on wholegrain toast with a plant based spread and sliced tomato 
  • Lunch: Smoked salmon & cream cheese bagel
  • Dinner: Coconut chicken and veg traybake, (use coconut oil as your base). Top with mixed seeds before serving
  • Snacks: Slice of homemade banana bread. ½ avocado and cottage cheese on 2 rice cakes

This article was written by Registered Associate Nutritionist Kate Law who is the Founder and Director of The Food Boss a nutrition consultancy specialising in women’s health and sports nutrition. You can find Kate on Instagram @the_food_boss_

References

  1. https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/fat.html
  2. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/ask-the-expert/comparing-cooking-fats
  3. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/trans-fats.html

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Arrange a time with Stuart Moore. An experienced restauranteur and entrepreneurial professional, passionate about gaining a deep understanding of what you need, before building a partnership that creates long-term value. Then proactively delivering powerful and innovative solutions to drive business performance. He is an inquisitive thinker, problem solver and solutions provider. indicater.com is a modular, cloud-based platform that simplifies your multi-unit hospitality or restaurant operations, controls your costs and ingredient compliance – in real-time. Providing clear financial visibility and powerful insights into your business data, combined with excellent support from our UK team of ex-hospitality professionals and technologists.  The company was founded in 2000, and operates independently with the support and resources of the Volaris Group, a buy-and-hold acquirer of software businesses, who focus on the long term success of their companies.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash