Bodybuilders tend to shun fats, but the truth is, they do need some fat in their diets. Healthy oils can be a valuable source of essential fatty acids (EFAs), as well as protective phytochemicals. Don't deny yourself the benefits of these elixirs; not only do quality oils add flavor to your food, they also help you build a strong body and stick with a healthy diet for the long term. You can have 20 to 25 percent of your total daily calories from fat, but that should be mainly unsaturated fat, which includes flavorful, heart-healthy oils.
The best oils are organic, unrefined and expeller or cold-pressed (made without added heat). The more refined the oil, the worse it is for you. Refining removes phytosterols, chemicals that help protect against heart attack and some cancers. Shopping for quality oil can be as complicated as selecting wine, but these tips on how to use popular oils will help guide you.
1. OLIVE OIL
The one oil you should never be without. This dietary and culinary superstar can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and provide protection against high blood pressure and blocked arteries.
Uses: You can use olive oil as a substitute for butter with a loaf of crusty French bread. Olive oil can also replace most oils when a recipe calls for baking, frying or sautéing. It's available in three grades - virgin, extra-virgin and pure - but only pure with a higher smoke point should be used for frying. Virgin and extra-virgin varieties are higher-grade oils. Their delicate nature - and considerable expense - means they're best drizzled over pasta, vegetables or salad. The term "extra light" for olive oil refers to color, not calories. Note: Store away from light and heat.
Nutrition: 1 tablespoon, 120 calories, 13.5 g fat (2 g saturated, 1.5 g polyunsaturated, 10 g monounsaturated)