In the past, you may have given it little thought about which cooking oil was better for you and went ahead and purchased the one that was on sale at the time. (I’m guilty of this.) That particular cooking oil may also have brought you the preferred flavor and consistency that you were looking for. What are the best and worst oils to cook with? Let’s find out why!
The Best and Worst Oils to Cook With & Why
But how healthy is that cooking oil that you’ve been using all these years? It’s been proven that using the wrong cooking oils over time can cause major health issues for you, even without you realizing it. That’s a pretty big deal when you have your family to think about. These are the best and worst oils that you can cook with and why.
Fats Aren’t All Bad
We’ve been made to believe that all fat is bad for you, and that’s not entirely true. Fats (like oil) play important roles in our bodies such as making hormones and producing healthy cell membranes, but they also make our food taste so much better. Finding the right healthy oil for cooking depends on two things, the temperature that you’re cooking the oil with, as well as the source of the fat.
What Is Smoke Point All About?
Let’s start out by covering a term that you may have come across and are unfamiliar with. The smoke point is important to remember while you’re cooking with oil. The smoke point is when the temperature reaches a certain level that causes the minerals, nutrients, and enzymes in the oil to start to burn.
When your oil reaches this point, free radicals called acrolein are released, which gives your food that burnt or nasty smell. So here’s a look at the certain types of oils that should be used at their appropriate heating temperatures.
Cooking with Hotter Temperatures
Fats that are found to be more saturated, are less likely to be damaged by heat. That’s because saturated fats have proven to hold up the best under extreme heat, and that’s actually a pretty big deal for you and me.
Damaged fat can cause major health issues due to the oxidative damage that can take place from free radicals lurking about.
Saturated fats when eaten in moderation can actually be good for a healthy diet. Oils that are higher in saturated fats include coconut oil, ghee, animal fat (beef, pork, duck), and butter.
Just be aware that with butter, there are milk products in it, and they can burn if you’re not careful. Adding coconut oil to your butter can help prevent this.
Cooking with Medium Temperatures
When you’re cooking with temperatures ranging from medium-low (250 degrees to 324 degrees) to medium(325 degrees to 374 degrees), it’s best to use fats that are saturated or monounsaturated. These oils include olive oil (extra virgin), avocado, and Macadamia nut oil.
Oils that Should Be Used Cold
There are a number of oils that should not be used for cooking, but can be enjoyed cold when drizzled over a salad or a dish that’s already been cooked. These oils include sesame seed oil, walnut oil, and flaxseed oil.
The Worst Oils for Cooking
This one may surprise you because you’ve probably been using this type of oil for almost all of your cooking and baking needs for many years now. As it turns out, vegetable oil is at the top of the list of worst oils that you could possibly use.
Though it’s called vegetable oil, there typically aren’t vegetables involved, but rather seeds. These oils include canola (rapeseed), sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, and safflower oil.
Before vegetable oil can hit the grocery shelf, it has to go through a process that involves extreme heat, repeated processing, and the use of chemical solvents. This is a bad thing because vegetable oil contains polyunsaturated fats that are easily burned when introduced to hotter temperatures.
So, even before that oil is placed in the frying pan, it’s already been damaged. Unfortunately, almost every restaurant cooks with vegetable oil, along with all of your favorite processed foods.
Foods To Watch Out For
You’d be amazed at how many foods you enjoy that contain vegetable oil. These foods include baked goods, chips, crackers, popcorn, bread, condiments, salad dressings, mayonnaise, and even some frozen foods. If you can’t completely avoid these irresistible temptations, the least you could do is to enjoy eating them only in moderation.
Things to Remember
While you are at the grocery store there are a few tips that you need to keep in mind so that you’re choosing the right oil. Avoid cooking with oils that contain polyunsaturated fats, because they’ve already been damaged by heat.
When you’re at the grocery store, remember to check the labels to see that there isn’t any hidden vegetable oil that’s part of ingredients.
Also, think about the temperature that you’ll be cooking the oil with. The hotter the temperature, the more saturated the fat should be.
You also want to avoid purchasing oils that mention “light” or “refined,” which has more LDL (bad) cholesterol in them and can increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity, immune dysfunction, and even reproductive problems.
When you’re cooking with whichever oil you decide on, be sure that it doesn’t begin to smoke. If it does start to, it’s better to just throw the oil out and start over. The best way to prevent this is to cook on low for a longer period of time.
I’ll be honest with you and say that I’ve used vegetable oil countless times in the past when I was left in the dark with just how bad it was for me. As I’ve grown older, eating healthier foods has become more important to me.
Choosing the right types of oil to cook with can make all the difference in keeping you and your family healthier, and paying a little extra for them becomes less of a concern.
What do you think about the best and worst oils to cook with? Please keep prepping, we must. May God bless this world, Linda