There are a lot of options when it comes to using oils when cooking. Even further, it’s important to know and understand how to use them. Some do really well at high heats, others degrade at high heats and will release harmful chemical compounds called free radicals.
There has actually been quite a bit of debate as to which oils are healthy or unhealthy. I will break down what we know so far to help you make the best decision next time you are in the kitchen.
Oils: Healthier Choices
- Olive Oil. This is perhaps the healthiest of all the oils available – BUT ONLY if you are using Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All other olive oils are processed and refined – i.e. they are more or less like any other unhealthy oil.
- EVOO is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which makes it a healthy choice for heart health.
- Use it in salad dressings, and for cooking at low – medium heat. It is also the healthiest to use for baking.
- Use when cooking at high heats as it is much more tolerant with a very high smoke point
- Coconut Oil. This oil is high in saturated fat. It became very popular as a cooking oil when the Paleo Diet became popular. Because of this, there is a lot of controversy over using this oil frequently in the kitchen. It is important to note that according to the American Heart Association, saturated fat should be used in moderation because it may be linked to raising cholesterol level and unhealthy LDL. However, not all high LDL levels are bad. In fact, there are two different types of LDL cholesterol – healthy and unhealthy. Healthy LDL cholesterol looks like a puffy cloud and it floats around in your blood. You need cholesterol in order to make your gender specific hormones! Do not be fooled, cholesterol is absolutely necessary for optimal health. However, foods like sugar and refined, processed foods/fats increase an unhealthy LDL cholesterol that looks like BBs from a BB gun. Picture something like that catapulting through your soft arteries and veins. Now that will cause damage and it will lead to plaque build up and can form dangerous clots. It is still unclear in research if the saturated fat from coconut oil raises unhealthy LDL cholesterol. However, you are more likely to raise your unhealthy LDL cholesterol by eating sugary foods and refined/processed foods than cooking with coconut oil.
Oils To Use In Moderation
- Sunflower Oil. A great source for Vitamin E! As amazing as that is, it might be better to get your Vitamin E from other sources. Sunflower oil can be high in Omega-6 Fatty Acids. Although we do need some Omega-6’s, for the most part, they are inflammatory. Especially when there is not enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the body to balance them out. Moderation is key
Use in moderation
- Vegetable Oil. This is a processed oil that should be avoided or used very little. Vegetable oil can be a mix of oils from soy, corn, cottonseed or canola oil – manufacturers don’t have to say which or print new labels. These oils for the most part are rancid already in the bottle on the shelf because they’ve been processed. In order for them to have a high heat tolerance, they are pushed passed that tolerant point. I would recommend avoiding this one. Rancid oils contain a higher source of free radicals, which we want to avoid.
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