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Health and Fitness Tips

The Right Oil for The Holidays

With Christmas nearly upon us, many are busy preparing the ingredients for their holiday feast. One way to maintain good nutritional balance is to select a cooking oil that is "best" for you and your loved-ones.

Long before oils found their way in the cupboard, they were used for everything from treating wounds, to conditioning hair, to anointing newborns. Today, non-petroleum oils are valued mainly in cooking. The right one can lend a subtle flavor to your favorite holiday dish like nothing else can. Perhaps that's why there are more oils on supermarket shelves today than ever before - roughly 60 national brands alone, not to mention the hundreds of private gourmet brands.

With this variety comes the daunting task of selecting the right oil for your needs. But, you really need to consider two factors: how you'll use it, and how healthful it is.

The health factor of oil is very important. Oil is fat, plain and simple, with an average of 120 calories and 13 grams of fat per tablespoon. The only difference between it and other fats - butter for example - is that oil is liquid at room temperature. This makes it more healthful than solid fats, especially because no oil contains cholesterol. But what matters most is the type of fat you use - saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.

Like all fats, oils contain a combination of these three types of fatty acids. Saturated fat, the least healthful, comes mainly from animal sources and is associated with high cholesterol, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Polyunsaturated fat, considered more healthful, has been found to lower both bad LDL cholesterol and good HDL cholesterol. Monounsaturated is considered the most healthful, lowering LDLs without negatively affecting HDLs. When buying oils, I recommend that you stick with varieties that contain more monounsaturated and less saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Now that you know the basic principles, you can select the right oil for your purpose - the best taste. Choosing the best oil to enhance your cooking is a sign of a thoughtful culinary master. Perhaps this year's Christmas turkey will have an almond, walnut, or hazelnut oil rub. Maybe the fresh green bean side dish - will have been stir-fried using sesame oil.

Regardless of your creative cooking talents, remember to be healthy and have a wonderful holiday celebration!

Rick Gusler is a certified personal trainer and diet nutritionist who serves his clients through Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center in central Denver. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about the Gusler method of body sculpting, spin yoga, or Rick's Boot Camp, please contact him at 303.860.7131 or online at

Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center, LLC
459 Acoma Street · Denver, Colorado 80204 · 303-860-7131
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6am-8pm · Saturday: Closed · Sunday: Closed