olive oil n a jar

Oils and fats: Basic knowledge for a healthy diet

Oils are fats that have become liquid due to temperature. The low melting range is mainly caused by a high proportion of unsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Therefore, the oils are very suitable for use in the kitchen.

What is oil?

Vegetable oils serve as food and are therefore also called edible oils.

This includes, for example:

  • linseed oil.
  • rapeseed oil.
  • sunflower oil.
  • olive oil.

Animal oils are also used as food, like vegetable oils, and are also used in the chemical and cosmetic industries (raw material for soap extraction).

This includes:

  • lard.
  • poultry fat.
  • fish oil.
  • cod liver oil.

What is fat?

Fats, also called lipids in technical jargon, serve many important functions in the human body. The most important task of fat is to provide energy to people.

In addition, the fat serves as:

  • Carrier of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Construction material for cell membranes.
  • Flavoring.
  • Protection against external influences.

Fats have a high energy density . They have more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein.

If you consume large amounts of fat for a long time and at the same time burn very few calories, you can cause overweight and associated diseases (high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis).

Not all kinds of energy value (calories, grams of fat) mean the same to the body. It is not always about how much fat you eat, but what fats there are?

Basically, fats can be divided into three groups according to their composition:

  • saturated fatty acids,
  • monounsaturated fatty acids,
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Fatty acids consist of carbon atoms. With saturated fatty acids, each carbon atom forms a bond with two hydrogen atoms.

Unsaturated fatty acids lack some of these bonds. Instead, carbon atoms are interconnected and can decompose at this point. Therefore, they are more usable by the body than saturated fatty acids.

two bottles of oil

Are fat and oil the same?

The difference between fat and oil lies in the state in which it is.

Fats, whether solid or liquid, are summarized under the general term lipids. Once the fat at room temperature turns liquid, it turns into oil.

Diet: why does the body need oils and fats?

Fat has several important functions in the body. On the one hand, provides the lipids with essential fatty acids and transports the vitamins A, D, E, K in the body.

By absorbing fats and oils from food, the human body receives energy, which it can then store. Fat also acts as a building and development block for cells and nerve tissue.

Thanks to fats, the organs are protected from external influences and the body heats up in cold seasons.

In the kitchen, fats and oils provide aroma and are therefore important flavorings.

Oils and fats have the following functions for the human body:

  • Supply the body with essential fatty acids.
  • Transport fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K.
  • Carriers of flavors and aromas.
  • Supply energy to the body.
  • Store energy.
  • Blocks of construction of cells and nerve tissue.
  • Thermal protection.
  • Protective pads for internal organs (kidneys, brain).

Oils and fats: how high is the daily requirement?

Several Institutes of Nutrition recommend between 60 and 80 g of fat per day.

Optimal care for men and women is broken down as follows:

Up to 60 g of fat/dayUp to 80 g of fat/day

Exceptions are people who perform heavy physical work or competitive athletes.

Do oils and fats raise cholesterol?

While vegetable oils contain unsaturated fatty acids , animal fats (butter, lard) consist mainly of saturated fatty acids.

Coconut oil is one of the plant exceptions because it also has a high proportion of saturated fatty acids.

Many of the saturated fatty acids increase total cholesterol and LDL (“bad cholesterol”), so they have a negative impact on fat metabolism and the cardiovascular system.

The unsaturated fatty acids in vegetable oils have a positive effect on lipids in the blood and serve to prevent heart disease.

The proportion of saturated fatty acids generally should not exceed 30% of the total food. The rest should be covered by unsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils.

Oils and fats in food

Saturated fats are considered “culprits” in increasing blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Foods that are high in saturated fat include:

  • Meat.
  • Dairy products.
  • Coconut and palm oil.

What are saturated fatty acids and where are they found?

Saturated fatty acids are part of fats. Fatty acids of this type increase the level of cholesterol in the blood, in particular, unwanted LDL cholesterol (LDL = low-density lipoprotein).

In general, saturated fatty acids are not considered healthy. However, they serve the human body as a source and storage of energy and are involved, among other things, in cell building and organ protection.

Individual saturated fatty acids have special tasks:

  • Butyric acid promotes intestinal activity.
  • Palmitic acid serves as an energy store for the body.

The foods that contain the most saturated fats are:

  • Red meat.
  • Dairy products.
  • Coconut.
  • Palm oil.
  • Finished products.
coconut oil

What are monounsaturated fatty acids and what are they found in?

Monounsaturated fatty acids can be produced by the body and are contained in large amounts in vegetable oils.

These fatty acids improve cholesterol in the blood. It increases “good cholesterol” (HDL) and lowers “bad cholesterol” (LDL). Unsaturated fatty acids serve the body as part of cell membranes and keep them flexible.

What foods contain unsaturated fatty acids?

Vegetable oils, grains, and potatoes are the most common food sources for unsaturated fatty acids.

Fish, nuts, and avocados are also rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil, for example, consists largely of oleic acid from monounsaturated fatty acid, but it also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Foods that contain more unsaturated fatty acids:

  • Vegetable oils (olive oil, walnut oil, rapeseed oil).
  • Walnuts.
  • Avocado.
  • Fish (salmon, herring).

What are polyunsaturated fatty acids and where are they found?

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are also known as essential fatty acids. Since the human body cannot produce them by itself, it has to receive them through food.

A high intake of essential fatty acids reduces LDL and total cholesterol levels.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are necessary for cell building and to regulate fat metabolism. These are important for the generation of hormones.

What is the difference between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for human life.

They are mainly part of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lack of omega fatty acids can cause skin changes, susceptibility to infections, growth disorders, and hair loss.

Omega-6 fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as follows:


  • Alpha-linolenic acid: flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, walnut oil, green leafy vegetables, walnuts.
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): High Fat Fish (Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna).


  • Linoleic acid: sunflower oil, safflower oil, pumpkin seed oil.
  • Arachidonic acid: meat, offal, butter, eggs (egg yolk).

What are trans fatty acids and where are they found?

Trans fats can be as harmful to health as unsaturated fats, possibly even more so.

Margarine, butter, and finished products like cookies and other commercial baked goods contain trans fatty acids. These are liquid vegetable oils that have been heated and hardened by an industrial process.

They lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol in the blood and a decrease in the desired HDL cholesterol (HDL = high-density lipoprotein).

The foods that contain the most trans fatty acids are:

  • Fried food.
  • Margarine.
  • Industrially produced baked goods (croissants, cakes, waffles, etc.).
  • Instant soups and ready meals.
  • Snacks (chips, popcorn).
Attention: Trans fatty acids should be avoided as much as possible because they have a carcinogenic effect on the human body.

Oils and fats: which oil is the healthiest?

There are many healthy and less healthy edible oils on the market. They all have a certain composition and can therefore be classified differently.

Particularly healthy oils and fats:

  • Olive oil.
  • Safflower oil.
  • Coconut oil.
  • Walnut oil.
  • Rapeseed oil.
  • Sunflower oil (in small amounts).

Avoid these fats:

  • Saturated fatty acids: in red meat, butter, cheese, dairy products, coconut, and palm oil.
  • Trans fatty acids: in sweets, fried foods.

Instead, eat:

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids: in olive oil/peanuts, walnuts.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: in vegetable oil.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: in fish (salmon, herring), walnuts.
olive oil in a bottle

Tips on oils and fats:

  • Most people in western industrialized countries eat too much fat. Instead of fatty meat and finished products, it is advisable to eat lean and low-fat meats.
  • Animal fats contain a high proportion of saturated fatty acids. They increase the levels of blood lipids (LDL cholesterol).
  • Vegetable fats are typically rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have a positive impact on LDL cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are generally recognized by the fact that they are liquid.
  • Fats with unsaturated fatty acids should be preferred. These are particularly found in vegetable oils such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, or flaxseed oil.
  • High fiber intake and a lot of exercise also have a positive effect on blood lipid levels.

What are the best vegetable oils?

The best is the combination and variation of various oils in everyday life.

The healthiest vegetable oils:

  • Olive oil: its pattern of fatty acids is healthy. Choose one or two “extra virgin olive oils”. They are suitable for hot and cold dishes (up to a maximum of 180 ° C, for example for stew). A good quality olive oil suitable for higher temperatures (up to 230 ° C, for example, when roasting and frying) perfectly complement your collection.
  • Rapeseed oil: Due to its ideal distribution of fatty acids, rapeseed oil is one of the healthiest vegetable oils. Contains a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. However, its boiling point is comparatively high, around 130 to 190 ° C. Therefore, it is also suitable for steaming and roasting over low heat. Refined rapeseed oil is light yellow and tasteless. Cold-pressed rapeseed oil, on the other hand, has a honey-like color and a slightly nutty flavor. It is only suitable for use in the cold kitchen.
  • Safflower oil: This oil has the highest level of linoleic acid of all. Lowers LDL and increases HDL cholesterol level. It is also essential for the balance of fat and moisture of the skin.
  • Pumpkin seed oil: oil has an intense color: green when pressed cold, reddish when pressed hot. The smell and taste are particularly characteristic: nutty and slightly spicy. Pumpkin seed oil is healthy and contains not only polyunsaturated fatty acids, but also many vitamins A and E, as well as selenium, carotenoids, and phytosterols. Due to its sensitivity to heat, it can only be used cold (for example, for salads).
  • Evening primrose oil: The fatty acids contained in evening primrose oil help cure neurodermatitis and eczema. It is rarely used in cooking due to its intense flavor, but it can be well combined with other oils. It can also be applied easily and directly to the skin.

Oils and fats: tips for using olive oil

To enjoy in the cold kitchen, it is worth investing in a high quality extra virgin olive oil.

The PDO seal provides a first orientation through the offer jungle. This is short for Protected Designation of Origin. This shows that olive oil comes from a protected origin and has been subjected to strict quality and flavor controls.

Cooking with olive oil: 6 tips to use in the kitchen

  • Oils should never be heated in a closed pan as they could catch fire.
  • The right temperature is important when roasting with olive oil. Fry potatoes, vegetables, meat, and fish only up to 180 ° C. The temperature is optimal when bubbles form as soon as you put a piece of bread in the hot oil.
  • Always heat the pan first when frying. Only then you must add the olive oil and heat to 140 ° C – 180 ° C . Then put the food and fry everywhere.
  • Drop a drop of water into the oil. When you hear a sharp thump, it means that about 180 ° C has been reached (maximum temperature for virgin olive oil)
  • During frying do not add cold oil, since the frying process will be interrupted and the meat loses its juice.
  • Use just a little olive oil to braise. The oil should not coat the pan and the food should not float in the oil. After drying, pour vegetable broth, wine, or water over them and let them cook in a closed pot at a temperature of about 100 ° C. The nutrients in the olive oil are largely preserved by braising.
The maximum temperature for extra virgin olive oil is 180 ° C.

Is coconut oil healthy?

Coconut oil is the spearhead when it comes to beauty and a slimline. Some stars and models are already announcing that they cannot imagine a day without the alternative oil.

In the United States, drinking coconut water has become a trend, and you can find them in different flavors. Advertising promises that it is “the healthiest”.

However, nutritionists doubt that this is really the case.

What ingredients does coconut oil have?

The main component of coconut oil is saturated fatty acids.

The saturated fatty acids contained in coconut oil are broken down as follows:

  • Palmitic.
  • Myristic.
  • Lauric acid.
  • Oleic acid.
  • Medium-chain fatty acids: caprylic acid, capric acid, caproic acid.

The healthy properties of the coconut oil are due almost solely to fatty acid medium chain containing.

Of the 99% of the saturated fatty acids contained, depending on the quality of the product, it contains around 60 – 70% of medium-chain fatty acids. These are particularly easy to digest and have fewer calories than other saturated fatty acids.

Medium-chain fatty acids are soluble in water and therefore enter the bloodstream and liver more quickly. Not only do they offer readily available energy, but they also act against protozoa, viruses, and bacteria in the body.

Coconut oil contains amino acidsmineralslactones, and vitamin E. However, only if the oil was naturally obtained and not refined.

What is the effect of coconut oil on the body?

Coconut oil has a variety of effects and is considered one of the best products for the care of the skin. The lauric acid contained in coconut oil provides moisture to the skin and also prevents skin aging.

Natural coconut oil regulates the acid-base balance of the skin and therefore fights wrinkles. Organic coconut oil can be applied to abrasions or cuts for better wound healing.

The oil has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system: according to science, should optimize the elevated levels of cholesterol.

Lauric acid also has an antibacterial effect and therefore offers protection against germs, bacteria, and fungi. About 60% of lauric acid is also usually contained in high-quality processed cosmetic products.

Can you lose weight with coconut oil?

The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are processed differently by the body than all other fats.

They are absorbed by the liverdo not require bile for digestion, and eventually become ketones. These ketones energize the body and are not stored in the body’s fat stores.

At the same time, the function of the thyroid gland is stimulated, which stimulates energy metabolism. With exercise and diet calorie-conscious, coconut oil can help reduce weight.

Coconut oil fights viruses, bacteria and fungi

Coconut oil owes its germicidal effect mainly to its medium-chain fatty acids (triglycerides). The oil can be used both internally and externally.

Lauric acid, which is the strongest representative of the fatty acids in coconut oil at around 50%, fights herpes viruses and caries bacteria in particular.

To do this, the fatty acid dissolves the outer layer, making the germs dormant. The capric acids contained in coconut oil are particularly effective against fungi such as Candida or chlamydia. For this, the oil is applied to the affected areas.

Coconut oil for flu infections

Colds and flu infections have little chance if you “protect” yourself with coconut oil. Just 1 teaspoon a day strengthens the immune system and keeps viruses away.

If diseases have already occurred, the oil helps to relieve a sore throat and contributes to faster regeneration. To do this, add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a hot cup of tea and add honey. One or two cups should be drunk in small sips a day.

The effect of coconut oil on blood lipid levels

Coconut oil contains many saturated fatty acids. It is precisely these fatty acids that increase the risk of lipid disorders. A high proportion of saturated fatty acids has a negative impact on blood lipid levels and cholesterol levels.

Coconut oil is praised for its high level of lauric acid. In fact, lauric acid leads to an increase in HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. Coconut oil also contains other fatty acids that increase LDL cholesterol, which in turn is unfavorable for blood lipid levels.

Good to Know
Nutrition experts advise that coconut fat, like animal fats, should only be eaten in moderation – regular consumption has not yet been scientifically proven to promote or impair health.

This causes coconut oil in the body.

Coconut oil has many positive effects on the bodyIt strengthens the immune system, counteracts high cholesterol, and contributes to increased moisture in the skin.

Infections and gum problems can be prevented by the consumption of coconut oil.

  • Immune system: The lauric acid in coconut oil is converted to monolaurin in the body. This substance protects against viruses and bacteria while strengthening the immune system.
  • Brain: Medium-chain fatty acids are used by the brain as an energy source after they have been converted to ketones in the liver. As a result, coconut oil provides the brain with readily available energy.
  • Cardiovascular system: The unsaturated fatty acids in coconut oil do not increase harmful LDL cholesterol and counteract HDL cholesterol levels. The damage to the walls of the glass is repaired thanks to the fats.
  • Skin: Coconut oil provides moisture and keeps skin supple. Externally applied, it is compatible with the treatment for eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
  • Hair: Regularly massaged into the scalp, the oil promotes healthy hair growth, counteracts dandruff, and repairs hair damage.
  • Infections: The oil forms a protective layer against skin infections that allows inflammation to heal faster. In case of a sore throat, the flu, or herpes infections, it can kill the germs that cause it.
  • Teeth and gums: Due to its germicidal effect, coconut oil can counteract the development of caries and periodontitis. To do this, simply add a few drops of oil to the toothpaste when brushing your teeth.

Food sources for healthy fats

Unsaturated fatty acids are particularly important in a healthy diet .

These are, for example, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are found in rapeseed oil, walnuts, flaxseed, lamb lettuce, high-fat fish (mackerel, herring, salmon), and egg yolk.

Good sources of omega-6 fatty acids are, for example, in sunflower oil and wheat germ oil. Omega fatty acids are healthy and vital. Coconut oil can be added to the menu from time to time, but daily consumption is not optimal.

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