Inflammation is your body’s immune response to injury and sickness. Acute inflammation protects your body when toxins, bacteria, or injury affect it. So, contrary to what we’ve believed, inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. And when the sickness or injury is gone, acute inflammation typically disappears.
But there’s another type of inflammation that’s more complicated and can last much longer than the former. Chronic inflammation can last months or years. It’s often associated with other conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and asthma.
Autoimmune disorders, like lupus and Crohn’s disease, can increase chronic inflammation. Additionally, lifestyle factors like stress levels and high alcohol consumption may also play a part in chronic inflammation.
Treatments for chronic inflammation range from lifestyle changes to certain steroids or other medications. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing chronic inflammation to find the right treatment plan.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, exercising the recommended amount, limiting alcohol, and managing stress to combat inflammation. However, the foods we eat can make a difference, too.
Berries, salmon, leafy greens, and tomatoes have anti-inflammatory properties. Conversely, fried foods, cured meats like sausage, and highly refined oils can worsen inflammation.
Thus, cooking at home can become a whole different ballgame when dealing with chronic inflammation. Everything down to the different cooking oils you use can affect inflammation levels.
As with most things, using cooking oils in moderation is an important part of a healthy diet. Here are the oils to use in moderation and those to avoid.
The Best Anti-Inflammation Oils
Olive oil comes in at the top of the anti-inflammatory category. Loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is the best cooking oil to use. Olive oil is part of the Meditteranean diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. It can also protect against inflammatory diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
One of those “good fat” oils, avocado oil, comes in second on the list. Unrefined, cold-pressed avocado oil is the best to use. The oil has a high smoke point (500 degrees Fahrenheit), making it a great all-purpose oil. Like olive oil, avocado oil is high in monosaturated fats, associated with anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.
Proceed With Caution With These Oils
Coconut oil has had its share of controversy. While many believe it to be a healthy addition to their diets, many experts are conflicted. According to the Mayo Clinic, “coconut oil has been shown to raise cholesterol levels—the good and the bad kinds—more than other plant-based oils like olive or canola.” Inflammation can also raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Coronary artery disease is linked to higher LDL cholesterol.
Canola oil is a lightly flavored, versatile cooking oil. It has a high smoke point, a smooth texture, and a low level of saturated fat. However, canola oil is highly processed. Unless you can find expeller-pressed or cold-pressed canola oil, it’s best to use sparingly. Regular canola oil is chemically extracted. While research suggests that canola oil boasts several health benefits, newer research indicates that canola oil consumption may be associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Oils That Can Cause Inflammation
Corn oil is used for deep-frying, baking, and roasting. It contains Omega-6, which can lead to inflammation if consumed in high quantities. You can counteract the effects of Omega-6 by using a variety of oils, particularly those high in Omega-3.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils
The FDA banned partially hydrogenated oils in the US in 2018. The administration determined that these oils contained artificial trans fat, which both lowers your “good” cholesterol and raises your “bad” cholesterol.
Other Oils To Consider
Sesame oil is popular in Asian cooking. It has a mild, nutty flavor, and some studies suggest it has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect.
Flaxseed oil has a similar flavor profile to sesame oil. This oil can lower LDL cholesterol, benefiting those with heart disease. It can also lower high blood pressure. However, pregnant women should avoid flaxseed oil.
A recent study suggests that walnut oil helps lower inflammation. The healthy oil can also help regulate blood sugar.