I recently wrote about how great fat is in our diets – oh yes, it’s true!
One of the easiest ways to ensure we are getting the good fats is by consuming oils.
But the truth is, most of us go about this all wrong, hence why the waistline grows and the health declines.
Here is the right way to consume your oily fatty goodness. Mmm.
The best of the oils:
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
You probably know this one already: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is super high in monounsaturated fats. Extra-virgin means the oil is extracted from the very first cold pressing. This oil is pure and distinctly tasty, but it has a very low smoke point. That means EVOO should not be used for cooking!
Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil
Miraculous oil of the gods. The benefits are too many and therefore warrant their own article…
Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “super-food”. Though high in saturated fat, its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health including weight loss, better brain function and tons of other magical benefits. Plus it’s a great oil for cooking or baking (one must embrace the coconutty flavor – we are island people after all!).
This oil is high in polyunsaturates, and its strong flavor means a little goes a long way. Sesame oil is a must for any Asian dishes; the lighter varieties are better for light cooking and the darker varieties are better for flavouring.
Oils unworthy of your trust:
Grape Seed Oil
Grape seed oil has a light neutral flavour. It is high in polyunsaturates, and it has a very high smoke point, giving it claims as another good cooking oil option.
Grape seed oil is a by-product of wine making, which is a total upside in terms of business model. Downside – it’s usually chemically extracted.
Sunflower and Safflower Oils
These two oils are similar in their mild flavour as well as being high in vitamin E. Look for the high-oleic versions, since they are 80 per cent monounsaturated and have a high smoke point.
High in monounsaturated fats, peanut oil is also about 30 per cent polyunsaturated fats and 20 per cent saturated. It has a high smoke point but is usually chemically processed, which takes a toll on its health claims.
OK, seriously, what is a canola? This neutral-tasting oil is obtained from rapeseed, a mustard relative. Because rapeseed is commonly sprayed with pesticides, be sure to look for organic, expeller-pressed brands of canola oil. Otherwise, steer clear.
Olive or Coconut Oils
Without the extra or the virgin, these oils don’t get the full on applause.
‘Light’ olive oil is a perfect example of this; it’s derived from all the stuff unworthy of being called virgin, and then even further processed. Light olive oil is mostly devoid of the healthy perks of its virgin cousin, plus is often diluted with other questionable or straight up dangerous oils.
Those marketing people are so darn scheming huh!?
Everything that’s wrong with oils:
Chemically Extracted Oils
Many pre-packaged foods contain vegetable, corn, peanut, or soybean oil. The process of extracting these oils often involves the petrochemical hexane, which is also used as a cleaning agent and as a solvent. Delicious. Cold pressed and expeller pressed are the safer choice.
Partially Hydrogenated Oil
AKA Trans Fats AKA devil incarnate.
Trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, changing it from a liquid into a more solid form. Trans fats lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels and raise LDL (bad cholesterol); they are artery cloggers and heart stoppers.
Do not eat trans fats, ever – not even in moderation. These evil fats are generally found in margarine, commercially prepared baked goods, snacks and processed foods.
Which vegetable exactly? This is usually a blended oil of many mysterious combinations, the process almost certainly by chemical extraction.
Besides being a highly genetically modified crop, soybeans already have enough questionable health claims associated with them. This oil is extremely high in polyunsaturated fats, which are not bad per se, but we tend to get too much of these Omega-6 rich fats already.
See soybean oil. It’s pretty much the same.
Shortening is an un-fancy word for partially hydrogenated. Those trans fats are so sneaky!
Most oils have a limited shelf life; rancid oils have absolutely zero health benefits. Smell the oil before using and if it’s yuck, chuck it out. Saving oil for re-frying – well…no, just, no.
So if you were a good little health-freak and read all the details above, you will notice that some oils are best consumed raw, and others can take varying degrees of heat. To bring it home, the healthiest options are listed below:
For high heat cooking: frying, baking, etc.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
For low heat cooking: sautéing, quick stir-frying, etc.
Not for cooking: use raw for dressings, etc.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil