One thing that arguably everyone would love to have is food that is tasty while also being healthy. However, considering the popular health diets and fads, it seems like those two things are mutually exclusive to each other. If you want to maintain your health, you have to give up good taste. This is especially true if you suffer from some common diseases such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes. As of now, you don’t have much of an option; you need to eat healthy in order to prevent the disease from getting worse.
The good is that healthy food doesn’t have to be bland. And no, you don’t need to give up oil in order to eat healthily. In fact, contrary to popular belief, fat is an essential macronutrient that is required by our body for various purposes, including nutrient absorption and cell growth. And oils used for cooking or drizzling over salads and soups contain some of the most important fats in your diet.
The issue is that most cooking oils that are readily available also tend to be the unhealthiest ones you can consume. Therefore, it is important to know which ones are safe and healthy to consume. It becomes even more necessary to remain mindful of your oil choices when you have diabetes.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease, which causes your blood sugar levels to spike. If left untreated, the blood sugar can damage your nerves, kidneys, eyes, and other organs. Currently, there is no treatment for diabetes. However, the symptoms can be controlled, and possibly even reversed by ensuring that you’re following a healthy diet and regular exercise. Some people with worse conditions may need to take medicines and insulin therapy to keep their blood sugar levels controlled.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, then switching your regular oils with diabetes-friendly oils can make a huge difference in your treatment. Following are some of the healthiest oils for diabetes.
1. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil is arguably the best oil you can consume if you have diabetes. It has the best ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of any cooking oil – 1:1. Studies indicate that we need a ratio of 2:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 for heart health. Since omega-6 fatty acid is found in most meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, most people get higher amounts of this nutrient in their diet. Macadamia nut oil can help balance the ratio. The amount of oleic acid in this oil is higher as compared to olive oil. It has a mild, pleasant, and buttery flavor. With its reasonably high smoking point and a long shelf-life, you can use it to cook almost anything aside from high heat grilling and frying. The only drawback of macadamia nut oil is that it is relatively expensive and isn’t available easily. But if you can get your hands on it, then you should definitely add it to your diet.
2. Olive Oil
In contrast to macadamia nut oil, olive oil is readily available everywhere. In fact, chances are that you may already have some variety of oil in your kitchen cabinet. Olive oil is one of the most nutritious cooking oils. It contains healthy amounts of antioxidants as well as oleic acid. It contains polyphenols, which work as anti-inflammatory agents. Olive oil is a heat-friendly oil that is a great option for people with diabetes. It contains an antioxidant known as tyrosol, which can act as a therapeutic agent for improving insulin resistance and diabetes. It also increases the levels of HDL “good” cholesterol and helps manage blood pressure. The only thing that makes olive oil less than ideal is that it has a 12:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which can cause an imbalance if other sources of omega-3 fatty acids aren’t consumed. However, the benefits of consuming olive oil far outweigh this fixable issue. It is important to always opt for extra-virgin olive oil, as it hasn’t been exposed to high heat or chemicals.
Another readily available diabetes-friendly cooking oil is coconut oil. It is high in saturated fat called lauric acid, which has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Regular consumption of coconut oil can manage weight, blood sugar levels, and aid in wound healing. All of these things make it a great addition to any diabetic patient’s diet. Although coconut oil doesn’t contain any omega-3 fatty acids, it doesn’t have significant amounts of omega-6 fatty acids either. So consuming it wouldn’t mess with the balance of these nutrients. Coconut oil is one of the only sources of healthy saturated fats. Therefore, it must be consumed in adequate amounts. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for any type of cooking, including high heat frying.
4. Flaxseed Oil
The only readily available that contain less omega-6 fatty acid than omega-3 fatty acid is flaxseed oil, with a ratio of 1:4. Flaxseed oil contains a type of fiber known as mucilage. This fiber can slow down digestion, allowing the glucose from the foods to be digested and releases into the blood more slowly. This slowed down process prevents sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Hence, the incidence of insulin resistance in a diabetic patient can decrease with the consumption of flaxseed oils. However, flaxseed has a very low smoke point, which makes it extremely unsuitable for cooking. Even being exposed to a small amount of heat can cause the oil to release free radicals, which are carcinogenic. Since it can get rancid quickly, make sure to buy it yourself from a store that stores it in a refrigerator and choose one with a dark-colored bottle. Always keep the oil refrigerated when not in use. Flaxseed oil can be used to drizzle over salads, soups, pasta, etc. You can also take a tablespoon of it every morning to reap its health benefits.
5. Canola Oil
Canola oil has lately gained a bad reputation in the health world, as people believe it is harmful to their bodies. However, this isn’t true. Canola oil is a plant-based oil, which is derived from rapeseed oil. It is rich in alpha-linolenic acid which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is also found in walnuts. Additionally, canola oil contains healthy amounts of the same monounsaturated fatty acids found in olives and avocados. Various studies have shown that regular consumption of canola oil can help lower blood sugar levels and LDL “bad” cholesterol in people who have type 2-diabetes. It can also increase the overall levels of HDL cholesterol in the body. There are two reasons that canola oil gets such a bad reputation despite being so healthy. First that most of the canola oils that are easily available in the market tend to be highly processed. This strips them of their nutrients and antioxidants. Additionally, people usually use this oil for deep frying and other such unhealthy cooking, which makes people form a negative association between canola oil and health. However, if you can find cold-pressed canola oil, then it can be a great addition to your diet. Since it has one of the highest smoke points for any cooking oil, the cooking possibilities with it are endless. Just make sure to not indulge in fried food more than once in a while.
6. Rice Bran Oil
Rice bran oil is regarded as one of the healthiest oils when it comes to your heart. Being rich in antioxidants, as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, it can have potential benefits for diabetic patients as well. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that the consumption of rice bran oil resulted in a 30% decrease in blood glucose levels.
7. Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seed oil is rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants such as lignans. Both of these antioxidants have a positive effect when trying to keep diabetes in control. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2016 suggests that a combination of sesame seed oil and rice bran oil may be good for people with type 2 diabetes, as it helps maintain healthy levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. The great thing about sesame seed oil is that it is the one oil that doesn’t lose its nutrients and benefits after being exposed to high heats. So if you want to use it as a drizzle on salad and bread, you can opt for the cold-pressed sesame oil. But if you want to use it for cooking, you can choose the sesame oil extracted from roasted sesame seeds. Both of these have similar nutrition profiles. Its nutty flavor adds to the taste of any dish.
Health Benefits of Cooking Oils
Although we’ve already touched upon the individual benefits of the aforementioned cooking oil, there are various health benefits of consuming the good kind of cooking oils. Aside from helping control the symptoms of diabetes, these cooking oils provide the following benefits.
· Good for Heart
Most of the above-mentioned oils have a healthy amount of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Both of these contribute to a heart health and help prevent heart-related diseases.
· Aid in Vitamin Absorption
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins. They require a sufficient amount of fat in the diet so that they can be absorbed by the body. If you reduce your intake of fat, then your body won’t be able to effectively absorb these vitamins, potentially leading to a vitamin deficiency. Adding healthy sources of fat, such as the above oil, can help these vitamins get absorbed effectively while providing various other benefits.
All of these oils are anti-inflammatory, and help reduce the swelling and redness in our body. Aside from worsening the condition of diabetes, inflammation is also associated with heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and bowel diseases. Therefore, it is important to consume foods that help reduce inflammation.
· Source of Energy
There are about 9 kcal of energy in 1 gram of oil. In addition to that, consuming healthy sources of fat also ensures that your body is able to get enough energy so that other sources like protein can perform their required function instead of being used as energy sources when the body can’t get enough fat.
· Body Movement
Do you know how oil or grease is added to mechanical machines when they aren’t functioning properly? Afterward, the machine seems to be working like new. Similarly, our bodies require oil to help ensure the proper movement of our muscles and joints. When we have enough good fat in our diets, our joints don’t get stiff.
· Healthy and Glowing Skin
Fat can also help make our appearance better. Consuming adequate amounts of fat protects the skin from dryness, as well as harmful UV rays. This, in turn, prevents the formation of wrinkles, leaving you with smooth and younger-looking skin for a longer time.
As you can see, it is definitely not a good idea to give up oil completely. There are so many benefits of consuming healthy amounts of oil, that it’s a surprise that fat-free diets are still a thing. However, you have to keep in mind that all oils do pack in a high number of calories. Therefore, it is crucial that you keep an eye on how much oil you are consuming.
Remember, the treatment of your diabetes starts in your kitchen with what you eat. So make sure that you’re making healthy choices, or else you may end up worsening your condition very quickly. However, adding a combination of these oils to your diets, along with other healthier choices will help ensure you are able to keep your symptoms to the minimum.