Which oil do you use when cooking? You might be surprised to learn some misconceptions about cooking with oil—especially when it comes to oil’s smoke point. Read on to learn more about the different oils and their smoke points, before choosing the oil for your next dish.
Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oil choices available. It is rich in antioxidants and 1 or 2 teaspoons go a long way (on a salad or in a sauté). When buying olive oil, look for oil that is cloudy (indicating that it has not been filtered) and has a golden yellow color (which means that it was made from fully ripened olives). Organic is best.
The long list of benefits of this oil include lowered risk of heart diseases, healing and anti-inflammatory effects, stimulation of bile flow, activation of liver enzymes, antioxidant activity, stimulation of pancreatic enzymes, anti-cancer effects, anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity, membrane development, cell formation and cell differentiation. Virgin olive oil has also been shown to improve brain cell maturation and function.
Grampians Olive Estate Australia produces certified organic (NASAA) Olive Oil at the base of the Grampians in North-Western, Victoria Australia. This wonderfully balanced fruity olive oil is best used as a dressing (in ample amounts) to enhance the flavour of your meals, vegetables and salads. Olive oil should not be used to cook with as heating will destroy a lot of the valuable nutrients and change unsaturated fatty acids into trans-fats.
Smoking point: Extra virgin olive oil is best consumed raw (e.g. on salads and veggies), or used for light sautéing over medium heat. It’s not a good choice for high temperature cooking.
Many Australians don’t think about coconut oil when it comes to cooking, but it’s a one of the healthiest options. Although it’s high in saturated fats, these fats occur naturally and aren't created into a saturated state through hydrogenation, like other less healthy options. Studies show coconut oil can amp up the body’s immune system, promote healthy thyroid function and blood sugar levels and reduce levels of bad cholesterol, called LDL. Coconut oil is also stable enough to resist mild heat-induced damage and many studies show it may promote heart health, improve thyroid function and even help with weight loss by helping to increase the body’s metabolic rate. Look for the following statements on the label:
• certified organic
• no chemicals (including hexane) added
• not deodorized
• not hydrogenated
• made from traditional coconut palms only (no GMO varieties)
• cold-pressed (no heat used in the extraction process).
Smoking point: Coconut oil has a high smoke point of 350 degrees and does well for low to medium temperature cooking. So for high-heat cooking, coconut oil is one of the best choices.
Butter (or Ghee)
Some of you may find it difficult to believe, but butter is one of the healthiest whole foods you can include in your diet. Yes, butter contains high levels of saturated fat; but remember, saturated fat is not the culprit behind weight gain and high rates of disease. Trans fats like margarine (hydrogenated oils) are the bad guys. Like coconut oil, butter is high in lauric acid, which the body uses for energy.
The BEST butter is raw butter from grass-fed cows, preferably organic. Next is pasteurised butter from grass-fed cows, followed by regular pasteurised butter from supermarkets. Even the latter two are still a much healthier choice than margarine. Make sure the ingredients on the label are simply: Organic cream (or milk) with or without salt.
Smoking point: You can use butter for high heat cooking, in recipes or on top of vegetables.
Hydrogenated oils like canola and vegetable oils
You should never use hydrogenated oils like canola and vegetable oils for cooking and baking. These oils, which actually comes from the rapeseed, goes through heavy processing and refinement, including high heat, chemicals and deodorizers which can transform its Omega-3 fatty acids into trans fatty acids.
Oils and their smoke points
Oils (and fats) have different smoke points. This is the temperature at which it begins to smoke, become discolored, and decompose (i.e., when the fatty acid content is damaged). Never heat a fat to its smoke point if you want to avoid turning it rancid and toxic. Refer to the list below to choose the best oil or fat for each type of cooking.
High-heat fats should be heated to no more than 375°F (frying or browning):
· coconut oil
· Avocado oil
· ghee or clarified butter
Medium-heat fats should be heated to no more than 325°F (light sautéing):
· extra virgin olive oil
· sesame oil
Low-heat fats should be heated to no more than 212°F: [convert to Celcius
· pure safflower oil
· pure sunflower oil
No-heat fats should never be used for cooking:
· borage oil
· flax seed oil
· hemp seed oil
And remember, like anything, oils are only healthful in moderation.
Yours in good health,
The content of Peak Health for Every Body blog are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.