So many companies claim to sell the best cooking oils, so it’s easy to get confused about which one is actually the optimal choice for your health. According to new research, we may finally have a possible answer — at least when it comes to cholesterol.
In an October 2018 paper, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, researchers analyzed 55 studies dating back to the 1980s that examined the effects of different cooking oils on participants’ blood lipids (which refers to all fatty substances in the blood, including LDL, or "bad" cholesterol). Ultimately, researchers found that seed oils were overall the best choice for people seeking to improve their cholesterol. And it wasn’t just one seed oil that ranked at the top of the list.
"Sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, safflower oil, and flaxseed oil performed best," said lead researcher Lukas Schwingshackl, PhD, in a press release. "Some people from Mediterranean countries probably are not so happy with this result, because they would prefer to see olive oil at the top. But this is not the case." While seed oils might not be as well-known as olive oil and other cooking oils, many of them are also available in most grocery stores, as well as on Amazon.
But if you're devoted to olive oil, it's not the worst choice for your cholesterol, either. According to researchers, the final ranking showed that solid fats, such as butter and lard, were the worst options for your cholesterol. This is probably not surprising to anyone who’s recently had a talk with a doctor about cholesterol; medical professionals have been giving this particular advice for years.
Before you run out to buy every seed oil in sight, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are a few important caveats to the research. For example, it only measured blood lipids — and it didn’t look directly at cases of heart disease. "This is not a hard clinical outcome," said Dr. Schwingshackl. "LDL is a causal risk factor for coronary heart disease, but it's not coronary heart disease."
Additionally, there wasn’t enough evidence to choose a "winner" among all the different types of seed oils in the latest research. So even if you’re having problems with cholesterol, you probably don’t want to buy bottles of every single one in hopes to find your perfect match. Instead, talk to your doctor about which cooking oil might be best for you. But if you're simply interested in trying out a seasonal seed oil for autumm, why not check out some of the best pumpkin seed oil recipes out there for inspiration?