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The Aisle Situation: The Spread of Oils

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

It’s a Tuesday evening. You’ve had a long exhausting day at work, but you need to quickly duck into Woolies on the way home to grab a few things. You grab your go-to dishwashing liquid; your favourite chocolate biscuits; and two chicken thighs for dinner. Now you just need oil.

You walk down aisle 9 and are overwhelmed by the number of oils. You ask yourself, ‘which of these is best for my health, for the best value that my tired brain can find in 5 seconds’?

That’s a lot to go through your head after a long day, isn’t it? So, let’s simplify it!

Why do we need to consider oil?

Oil is a food (or component in food) that is used for cooking, in baking or even as a salad dressing. It contains energy, but also fats that can be beneficial to our health. Let’s break these down: Some oils contain mostly unsaturated fats – your ‘good cholesterol’ also known as high-density lipoproteins (HDL). These oils include:

- extra virgin olive oil - canola oil - safflower oils - sunflower oils - rice bran oil - peanut oil

- sesame oil - avocado oil

- grapeseed oil

Other oils contain mostly saturated fats – your ‘bad cholesterol’ also known as low-density lipoproteins (LDL). These are coconut oil and palm oil (sorry, yes that means Nutella!).

To put this into perspective with our health, think about the LDL as a full, dirty dump truck dropping its overflowing content onto the road (our blood vessels). Then think about the HDL as the wheelbarrow behind the dirty dump truck picking up as much rubbish as it can. Now think about that rubbish as plaque in the vessels and the wheelbarrow as the HDL trying to clean up the mess.

Eating unhealthy food for a long period of time can lead to a reduction in the HDL and an increase in the LDL in our blood vessels. This imbalance (plus inflammation) can lead to the development of plaque build-up in the vessels, which then can cause clots that contribute to heart attacks or strokes. Therefore, to look after our blood vessels, it makes sense to have more HDL that LDL, right?

End verdict

As long as you are choosing oil with mostly unsaturated fats (and HDL), you have taken one step to look after your heart and blood vessel health. If it is on sale, even better! It is important to also consider the impact of healthy food choices on your overall health as well.


If you would like to know more, please contact us at Habits for Health -

Have a delicious day!


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