Saturday, August 14, 2021

Healthy (and Unhealthy) Cooking Oils

Bottle of olive oil with pour spout on a kitchen counter
Healthy Cooking Oil - Olive Oil

There are many kinds of cooking oils. It can be difficult to decide which ones are healthiest. 

Unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are better to lower cholesterol. Fats which stay solid at room temperature, such as butter, lard and coconut oil, are high in saturated fats, and are unhealthy with regard to cholesterol. So are liquid oils made from tropical plants (e.g., coconut oil and palm oil), which are higher in saturated fats than other plant oils.

But beside the amount of unsaturated fat, you should also consider the oil’s smoke point. When you heat any oil, it begins to break down. Heat it hot enough and it begins to smoke. It is not healthy to cook anything in oil that has degraded to the point of smoking, so for higher temperature cooking, you will want to use an oil with a high smoke point.

This means the best oil for cooking depends on what you are making. For low temperature baking and sautéing (up to about 350-400 degrees F (175-200 degrees C), you can use canola, grapeseed or olive oil. For browning or roasting in an over up to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) or searing, peanut oil or avocado oil would be better.

Choose the right oil for the task and you will be happy with the results. So will your arteries.

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