Let’s Talk… Cooking Oils!
When it comes to cooking, not all oils are equally healthy and safe.
Depending on their molecular structure, different oils can withstand varying levels of heat. When they begin to break down, they can oxidize or smoke, losing nutritional value, flavor, and producing hazardous substances to include free radicals. If you ingest these free radicals (through smoke, or eating your food), they will accumulate over time, and have been known to have varying detrimental effects on the human body.
When cooking with oil, pay attention to its color- if it’s starting to change, or if your oil starts to put off smoke, it’s too hot! Turn down the temperature, or choose a different oil.
The amount and type of fatty acids in each oil determines the smoke point. There are three types of fatty acids: saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated.
- Saturated fats – have single bonds between carbon and hydrogen atoms. These are tightly packed fatty acids, making them very stable and your best choice for cooking.
- Monounsaturated fats – have one double bond, are less tightly packed, and are good for cooking at low-medium temps.
- Polyunsaturated fats – have two or more double bonds. They are the most chemically reactive and sensitive to heat; as such should be avoided for cooking.
Typically more refined oils that have had free fatty acids and impurities removed, have higher smoke points. They have a neutral taste, odor, and a clear appearance.
My suggestions for cooking oil:
- Coconut-almost completely saturated fat; high smoke point of about 450 degrees.
- Red Palm-(not palm oil) high saturated fat, withstands high heat, nutritious, stable.
- Avocado-smoke point 510 degrees, use for high heat cooking, sautéing, frying, baking!
- Almond-high smoke point 495 degrees, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, clean, neutral flavor.
LOW to MEDIUM HEAT
- Extra-Virgin Olive-great in its non-heated form, low-heat sautéing.
- Walnut-heat up to about 400 degrees, baking, sautéing at low-to-medium heat.
- Sesame Seed-light sautéing/low-heat baking
- Peanut-High smoking point of about 450 degrees, stir-fries and Asian dishes.
Healthy oils, but DO NOT HEAT : Grapeseed, Evening Primrose, Flaxseed, Hemp, Hazelnut
OILS I WOULD AVOID!
Vegetable, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, Canola, Cottonseed, Corn.