Healthy Oils to Cook With

There are so many different oils on the market these days, and none of them are created equal. Some oils are optimal for high heat, some should be used for lower heat levels, some contain healthy fats, and some contain not-so-healthy fats. In this article, I hope to clear some of the confusion and provide you with a list of good oils and their smokes points, allowing you to make the best decision for the next time you want to cook.

Fats:

Unsaturated fats, composed of mono and polyunsaturated, are said to help lower cholesterol, making them heart-healthy. They tend to be rich in omega-3’s which fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, and are good for brain tissues. Some also tend to be rich in Omega-6’s, which can actually block omega-3’s from being used by the body. This is not a real issue until the omega-6’s greatly outnumber the omega-3’s. Beware of corn, safflower, and sunflower seed oil, as they are higher in omega 6’s.

High in unsaturated fats:
1.) Olive Oil
2.) Canola Oil (I advise against this oil because it is often GMO)
3.) Sunflower Oil
4.) Safflower Oil
5.) Sesame Oil
6.) Corn Flower Oil (This oil is also often GMO, unless certified organic.)(Rule of thumb: unsaturated fats will be liquid at room temperature)

Saturated fats are fats are those which many people believe are responsible for increasing cholesterol and causing heart disease. After discovering the book “Body By Science” by Dr. Doug McGuff, I discovered that these fast are no responsible for causing high cholesterol in the body. They can actually promote heart health, so don’t limit them from your diet. Coconut has been shown to combat Alzheimer’s disease, speed up your metabolism, and treat gall bladder disease. It is said to be both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Butter made with grass-fed cow’s milk is also beneficial to your health. Many people believe that butter will be directly converted to fat in their bodies, but fat storage doesn’t work like that. Butter is OK to eat, and even recommended by credible sources, including Dave Asprey who devised the “Bulletproof Diet.” Take a closer look at these fats, and you’ll see their beneficial properties. I recommend coconut oil and butter, as palm oil is one of those controversial oils which, through questionable harvesting techniques, has promoted deforestation of the rain forests, and exotic animal cruelty (see my article on palm oil).

High in saturated fats:
1.) Coconut Oil
2.) Palm Oil (Only use if it’s sustainable/RSPO certified)
3.) Butter
4.) Animal Fats(Rule of thumb: saturated fats will be solid at room temperature)

Trans/hydrogenated fats are those that have been chemically altered in order to make them solid at room temperature (no-stir peanut butter, anyone?). This alteration causes a perfectly good oil to convert to a trans fat with trans bonds, which not only lower good cholesterol levels, but are carcinogenic.

Where Hydrogenated oils linger:

1.) Conventional Peanut Butter
2.) Margarine
3.) Fast Food (fried)
4.) Many Processed Foods
5.) Candy

Cooking with oils:

All oils have an optimal cooking temperature. Going above this temperature may cause an oil to smoke, thus reaching its “smoke point.” This is bad because the fumes and oil residue is supposedly carcinogenic and dangerous if inhaled or consumed.

Smoking Point of common oils:

Refined

1.) Avocado Oil= 520
2.) Grape Seed Oil= 485
3.) Corn Oil= 450
4.) Olive Oil (Regular)= 438
5.) Canola Oil= 400
6.) Coconut Oil= 350

Unrefined

1.) Avocado Oil= 430
2.) Grape Seed Oil= 420
3.) Corn Oil= 320
4.) Canola Oil= 225
5.) Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)= 406
6.)  Coconut Oil= 350