Cooking With Healthier Oil

Becki Andrus

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Cooking oils that are high in saturated fats are generally considered to be unhealthy and may lead to heart disease and some form of cancers. Even though more information may needed about some of these oils, including coconut oil, there is some evidence suggesting that we should all limit our intake in foods high in saturated fats. This includes things like sunflower oil, soybean oil, butter and even ghee which is just clarified butter.

New oil and old oil

Alternatives include olive, canola, grape seed, almond, and safflower oil. Unfortunately, many of these oils can have disadvantages when cooking. In the past decade or so, America has fallen in love with extra virgin olive oil. It tastes great, is low in saturated fat, is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which is linked to reduced chances for heart disease, and is plentiful. The problem is extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point, loses it flavor when cooked, and high quality olive oils can be expensive.

When starting and maintaining your whole foods diet, it is a great idea to keep plenty of extra virgin olive oil around. But it is also important to understand how best to use it. The most expensive olive oils usually have a slight greenish color and have a very "fruity" flavor. These are great oils for things like salad dressings and drizzling over already cooked foods.

Cooking these high end olive oils usually kills the strong flavor that many people enjoy. In addition, olive oil has a fairly low smoke point, about 420 degrees. That means you may need more than one type of oil in your pantry for a whole foods diet. Naturally pressed canola oil and safflower oil have higher smoke points, about 450 degrees. That means these may be a better choice for higher heat when cooking over a hot grill, under a broiler, or during other high heat applications like stir frying. Grapeseed oil has a smoke point of about 420 degrees but the flavor usually stands up better to high heat.

Having multiple oils in your pantry makes it easier to make your own homemade dressings, cook at different temperatures, and still maintain your whole foods diet. Even though olive oil is a favorite, do not forget about others in the kitchen.


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  • omaerep says
    i have never tried cooking with grape seed or almond oil before. i always cook with olive oil and yes this is true it does burn my food and smoke out the kitchen to having a low smoke point. i will defiantly put grape seed oil on the grocery list.
  • I can still remember Mum cooking with lard. A big block of animal fat sitting in the fridge. I started out using it when I first got married as I would just take the fat off the roast juices as we lived on a farm. But luckily we were well informed of the dangers for our heart of consuming animal fats and even though it is very tasty to cook with I stopped and switched to oils years ago. I either use olive, canola or rice bran oil.
  • saffy says
    No matter what oil you use, one of the best things to get (as a present maybe) is a spray bottle for your oil. You will use far less using a spray bottle than just pouring oil from the bottle when you cook. This is one way to cut down on the amount of oil/fat you consume.
  • I've never tried coconut oil, would it not overpower the food, being a flavour with a very distinctive taste & smell?
    I'd have a go though.
    I actually get quite bamboozled with all the different oils available and am a little bit hesitant in purchasing just in case it's not what I thought.
    I love to try little samples of oils, some companies give out, that way I get to try before I buy.
    I've been very happy with some and quite disappointed with others.
    Maybe the companies could market smaller bottles, I'd be very keen!
  • Mellow says
    "Bran Oil", goes well for cooking..... has merits!
  • rps says
    I got some macadamia oil in a pack and am loving it. Having it on salads but haven't cooked with it yet. It really makes a difference to the flavour and you only need a small amount.
  • Jess says
    I know a lot of people that opt for cheap or store brand oil and I always have to convince them how important good quality oil is in any cooking! It's not just there to stop food from sticking to the pan!
  • Karla B says
    Since my daughter converted to being a vegan we have a whole lot of new oils in the pantry including sesame and flax-seed. It certainly is trial and error with some of them but get it right and the results are fantastic.
  • ibnita says
    I remember my Grans' roasts, potatoes dripping in lard. They tasted soooo good but at the time i was not aware just how bad for my health it was. It has taken time to get used to roast spuds done in oil (either canola or bran) but trial and error has seen me perfect the crispy potato of my childhood. I do cringe when chefs on tv now go on about how good it is to cook with ducks fat, surely this is taking us back a step.
  • nzmonstar says
    I found this article really useful and I will certainly be more selective when choosing cooking oils in the future

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