Sometimes, a diabetes diagnosis mandates a change in eating habits. Cooking can be a challenge when certain methods such as frying are considered off-limits. While too much oil isn’t good for anyone – fat it is high in calories – it’s quite possible to prepare delicious, salubrious meals using heart-healthy oils in small amounts.
As those of you with type 1 and type 2 know, food moderation is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You need to know what you’ve eaten and when as well as the effect those foods have on blood-sugar levels and other health indicators.
While dietary fats do not directly raise blood-glucose levels, they can, when eaten in large amounts, cause insulin resistance. In addition, saturated fats raise blood cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.
All fats are a mixture of saturated and unsaturated, but the more liquid a fat is at room temperature, the more unsaturated it is. Most oils, except palm and palm kernel (semi- solids) and coconut, are healthful.
Some types of oils contain monounsaturated fats, which help lower your levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, without changing the HDL, or good cholesterol levels. Canola, olive and peanut oil are examples of monounsaturated fats.
Other types of oils contain polyunsaturated fats, which also can help lower LDL cholesterol. One such fat – omega-3 fatty acids – can also lower your risk of heart disease by protecting against clots and reducing inflammation and irregular heartbeats. Some common polyunsaturated oils are corn, safflower and sunflower, which are known as omega-6 fatty acids. The best concentration of omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) in the diet comes from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and albacore tuna.
“You can enjoy tasty, healthy meals at home, when you have diabetes, by making a few changes to the way you choose and prepare food,” says Judy Giusti, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, at Joslin Diabetes Center. “There are things you can do in the kitchen, to lower fat and cholesterol in the foods you serve, without losing flavor. “
It’s also helpful to know the type of oil to use for each type of cooking because each oil has its own “smoke point.” That’s where the oil reaches a certain temperature and releases cancer-causing carcinogens. When this happens, it’s best to throw out the smoked oil and start over with fresh oil.
All oils, regardless of type, contain the same amount of calories per serving: about 120 per tablespoon.
To ensure a healthy portion, either use a non-stick pan and buy an oil mister (a kitchen gadget that sprays a mist of oil over your pan) or measure the amount of oil you intend to use, so you know exactly how much goes into the pan.
Our friends at dLife.com have compiled a list of recommended cooking oils for those living with diabetes. Here are the top eight:
1. Walnut: A polyunsaturated fat and good source of omega-3 and salpha-linolenic acid (ALA), this oil has a medium smoke point and is good for baking and sautéing on low to medium-high heat.
2. Flaxseed: A polyunsaturated fat, this oil has a very low smoke point and shouldn’t be heated. But it can be stirred into beverages or drizzled over salad.
3. Canola: A monounsaturated fat with a medium-high smoke point, this oil is used in baking, sautéing, stir-frying and dressings.
4. Olive: A monounsaturated fat with a medium smoke point, this flavorful oil is used for light sautéing, sauces and salad dressings.
5. Peanut: A monounsaturated fat with a medium-high smoke point, this flavorful oil is used for light sautéing, sauces and salad dressings.
6. Corn: A polyunsaturated fat with a medium-yellow color and medium-high smoke point, this oil is used for sautéing, salad dressings and shortening.
7. Safflower: A polyunsaturated fat with a light texture and a medium-high smoke point, this oil is used in margarines, mayonnaise and salad dressings.
8. Sesame: A polyunsaturated fat with a medium smoke point, this oil is used in cooking and salad dressings.
For more information on healthy cooking and recipes, purchase the Joslin Diabetes Cookbook from the Joslin Store.
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