As we all know, oil is an integral part of our cooking. With knowledge about food ever expanding, there are many options available on the market when it comes to oil. Every day, there is something new and healthy discovered which can make it difficult to choose the right option for you.
Well, this blog is going to summarize a few tips that can help you determine which oil is best for you and will provide you with a brief introduction into some of the more popular options on the market. Let me start off by stating that there is NO CHOLESTEROL in PLANT based oil.
Oil is characterized by fat content mainly saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Fats found in plant based oil are essential macronutrients that the body requires for cell growth and absorption of important nutrients like Vit B12 and energy.
Usage of oil depends on the food you’re making. Oil’s smoke point is an important consideration, this refers to the point at which the oil starts to burn and create smoke. If you heat the oil beyond the smoking point it will not only harm the flavor but also create free radicals which are harmful.
Let’s take a look at some common cooking oils:
Olive Oil: This is a very healthy source of Vit E, K and monounsaturated fats such as Oleic acid, which is helpful for cardiac health, lower LDL and overall cholesterol. It’s best to go with extra virgin olive oil as it’s less refined, not highly processed and therefore is of higher quality. The smoke point for this oil is 350- 410F (176- 210C), making it useful for sauteing, frying at medium heat, baking, roasting veggies and using in salad dressings.
Coconut Oil: This oil has had periods of on/off popularity over the years. The least processed versions are called cold-pressed or virgin. Coconut oils primarily consist of saturated fats and are solid at room temperature. This oil is different from animal products like butter as it contains lauric acid. Lauric acid is considered to be absorbed by the body and used as energy, unlike stored body fat. There are many studies that have noted that coconut oil contributes to increased levels of LDL and Triglycerides, which is not considered heart friendly. Smoke point is 375-400F (109-204C). This should be used occasionally either while sautéing, making curry dishes or as a substitute for butter in baking dishes.
Canola Oil: This oil was developed in Canada by cross breeding the rapeseed plant. This oil is highly refined which results in fewer nutrients and the increased processing affects the fatty acid quality. This oil has both mono and polyunsaturated fats. It also contains Linoleic acid which contains omega – 6 fatty acid. This oil, if consumed in a higher amount, can cause inflammation. Smoke point is high 400F ( 204C) and it can be used for high heat cooking.
Avocado Oil: This oil has gained popularity in the last few years. For a healthier option use unrefined, cold pressed versions. It is rich in monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid which is heart friendly, contains Vit E and has antioxidant properties. Smoke point is 480F (248C) which is higher than olive oil. This oil is better suited for high heat cooking and due to its flavor it can be used as salad dressing.
Sunflower oil: This oil is a good source of Vit E and is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids.Similar to canola oil it has Omega 6 fats which might lead to inflammation if consumed in larger amounts. However, most sunflower oil also contains heart-friendly Oleic acid. The smoke point is 450F (232C) and therefore it can be used for high heat cooking.
To summarize, I would say Olive oil and Avocado oil are the most nutritional oils present. That said, try to include the variety of oil we have out there and choose wisely according to the food you’re preparing. Avoid using one type of oil for a long time. Our body needs change and also needs the nutrients that are offered by the different oils indicated above. Have a couple of different oils in the kitchen to have variety and enjoy the food.