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Arthritis diet: Five of the best cooking oils to avoid painful arthritis symptoms

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Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint, and eating inflammatory foods will make the symptoms worse. The NHS advises everyone with arthritis to eat a healthy, balanced diet consisting of a variety of foods from all five food groups, but which oils should you use when cooking? reveals the five best oils for arthritis.

All oils are fats, and when you hear the word ‘fat’ you automatically think negatively.

However, certain fats and oils are a key part of a healthy diet and could help your arthritis symptoms.

Some oils can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, which are all high-risk conditions for arthritis.

They could even help to prevent inflammation and inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers.

Be careful though, some oils might increase inflammation and harm your overall health.

Saturated fats, found in meat, butter, cheese and coconut oil, can raise your cholesterol and should be avoided as much as possible, especially if you have arthritis.

The experts at the Arthritis Foundation said: “People with arthritis are more at risk for heart disease, so they need to be watching their cholesterol levels.

“Small amounts of saturated fats can be incorporated into a healthy diet but should be limited to less than 10 percent of your total calorie intake. That would be no more than 20g of saturated fat per day for a person consuming 2,000 calories.”

Even though coconut oil is saturated fat, it is made mostly of medium-chain fatty acids, and your body processes it differently.

For this reason, a little saturated fat from coconut oil every now and then is fine, but it could not be the main oil you use.

Corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soy oil and vegetable oil should also be used in moderation, particularly if you have arthritis.

This is because they contain omega-6, which could make inflammation worse.

The team at the Arthritis Foundation explained: “Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals, and the American diet tends to be very high in omega-6s.

“They aren’t especially bad and shouldn’t be avoided, but you don’t want them to dominate your intake.”

Vegetable oil also contains trans fats, which shouldn’t really be eaten at all.

The experts added: “Trans fats and saturated fats raise LDL, or bad cholesterol, but trans fats are a little more villainous because they also reduce HDL, or good cholesterol. That dual effect raises the risk of heart disease.”

So, which oils are best if you have arthritis?

The best cooking oils to avoid painful arthritis symptoms

Olive oil

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, so it is among the best-studied fats, with many known health benefits.

Extra virgin olive oil, the least refined type, is pressed mechanically rather than processed with heat or chemicals that change its properties, the Arthritis Foundation pointed out.

The site added: “It contains biologically active compounds – such as the polyphenols, oleocanthal, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and lignans – that have been linked to reduced joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis.

“Extra virgin oil has a low smoke point, so it’s best for finishing foods or for dressings.
“The smoke point of virgin olive oil is a little higher, making it a better choice for cooking.

“Olive oil doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but lasts longer away from heat and fluctuating temperatures and even longer in the fridge.

“Once opened, it will keep for about six months on the shelf and up to a year in the refrigerator.”

Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of winemaking (the pressing of the seeds of grapes) so it is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and is a good source of vitamin E.

The Arthritis Foundation explained: “Grapeseed oil has a medium-high smoke point making it good for salad dressings, sautéing and baking.

“Store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to six months.”

Walnut oil

Walnut oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid, that has cardiovascular and cholesterol-lowering benefits.

The Arthritis Foundation site said: “These fatty acids can also lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of body-wide inflammation.

“To preserve its health benefits and nutty taste, it’s best not to heat this delicate oil.

“Walnut oil can go bad in less than three months, so keep it in the refrigerator.”

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is a pale green oil that’s rich in monounsaturated fats, which can lower heart disease and stroke risks.

Research also suggests avocado oil has an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing CRP, and it’s also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.

The Arthritis Foundation site read: “Avocado oil has a mild flavour and a higher smoke point than most plant oils, so it performs well for high-heat cooking such as stir-frying.

“Keep in the refrigerator, where it will last about six months.”

Canola oil

Never heard of canola oil? It’s time to get acquainted with this excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Canola oil is low in saturated fatty acids and great for arthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation site said: “Canola oil’s high smoke point works well for high-heat cooking applications like sautéing.

“Store in a dark, cool cabinet, where it has a shelf life of four to six months.”

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