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Best cooking oils for people with diabetes
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Best cooking oils for people with diabetes

Oils rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats are recommended for people with diabetes, say experts
Avocado oil is filled with healthy fats, containing monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, both are good for diabetes management.
They say cold-pressed oils are better for use as they are not chemically processed and retain more nutrients.

People are often confused when it comes to choosing the best edible oil for cooking. Dietary fat like oil is a part of a balanced meal, which is essential for diabetes management. However, not all oils are appropriate for people with diabetes as all cooking oils do not contain the same type of fat.

Dr Praveen Naidu, endocrinologist, Manipal Hospital, Vijayawada, says, edible oils high in saturated fat and hydrogenated oils are not recommended for maintaining heart health and managing diabetes. Vegetable oils high in unsaturated fatty acids, such as Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids are better options for people with diabetes.

He adds cooking methods like deep frying negatively impact the fatty acid profile of oils by decreasing the unsaturated fatty acids and increasing density and contents of free fatty acids. So lighter methods like sautéing or using oils for dressings are preferable.

Experts suggest following unrefined cooking oils with healthy fats for people with diabetes. They say cold-pressed oils are better for use as they are not chemically processed and retain more nutrients. Also, they should be consumed in moderation. They say 3-5 teaspoons of oil per day is the recommended daily limit.

Cooking oils for diabetes management

 1.Olive oil

Dr Subrata Das, senior consultant, internal medicine and diabetology, Sakra World Hospital, Bangalore, says olive oil is good for people with diabetes due to its high monounsaturated fatty acids, which can also help reduce risk of heart disease.

He adds, the antioxidants and compounds in olive oil like oleuropein may help with digestion and protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

According to Bhuvaneswari Vidyashankar, a Chennai-based dietician, olive oil has a more balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids compared to oils like soybean and sunflower oils.

Olive oil can be used for lighter cooking methods like sautéing or as a dressing, she adds.

2. Flaxseed oil

According to Dr Naidu, flaxseed oil can be good for people with diabetes as it has similar fatty acid composition to olive oil, with most of its fat coming from oleic acid, which is a healthy fatty acid. He adds, it contains antioxidants like vitamin E that protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Oxidisation can damage cholesterol cells, causing inflammation and promoting heart issues like atherosclerosis. Bhuvaneswari Vidyashankar, a Chennai-based dietician suggests using flaxseed oil for salad dressings in limited amounts as part of a diabetes-friendly diet.

3. Avocado oil

“Avocado oil is filled with healthy fats, containing monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, both are good for diabetes management,” says Dr Naidu.

He adds avocado oil contains oleic acid, that has several health benefits. It helps to lower the cholesterol levels and improve heart health. According to Vidyashankar, avocado oil can help in weight loss, as it is rich in healthy fats that make you feel satiated (fullness) for longer and avoid extra calorie consumption.

4. Sesame Oil

A study shows that white sesame seed oil may help to lower fasting blood sugar and HbA1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

According to Dr Naidu, sesame oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as magnesium. The latter being a vital mineral for diabetes management.

He adds sesame seeds are a good source of protein and fibre, both of which are satiating nutrients that can avoid excessive calorie consumption and help in weight loss.

5. Mustard oil

Dr Naidu says, mustard oil contains high level of monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), Vitamin E, and minerals. It has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that make it a good oil option for people with diabetes.

One animal study shows that mustard oil can improve insulin resistance in diabetic mice. Mustard oil contains erucic acid (a fatty acid) that lowers the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR), that decreases the insulin resistance in the body, and helps in managing blood sugar levels.

Dr Das suggests that mustard oil can used as an alternative option or along with olive or avocado oils, but not with the refined vegetable oils. Mixing mustard oil with refined vegetable oils is banned by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India for the safe consumption of mustard oil.

Vidyashankar says, mustard oil can be used for frying, baking as well as salad dressing. However, it’s important to consume in moderate amount, i.e., not more than 4 to 5 teaspoons of mustard oil in a day.

6. Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is extracted from the seeds of sunflower plant. Dr Das says, being rich in unsaturated fat such as linoleic acid and oleic acid, sunflower oil comes as a healthy oil option for people with diabetes. These linoleic acid in sunflower oil is associated with reduced risk for type 2 diabetes as it improves insulin production. Vidyashankar says sunflower oil can be used for frying, grilling, seasoning and as a salad dressing.

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