Are you confused about which oil you should use in cooking and which oils are better for use in salads?
Chef Gerard Viverito – director of culinary education for Passionfish, an organization that educates people about of sustainability in the seas, and operator of Saveur Fine Catering – offers the following information on 12 healthy oils:
Oils for regular use
Olive oil. Rich in monounsaturated fat, this oil is great for your heart and skin health. Use it for salad dressings and drizzling over breads, but don’t use for high-temperature applications. It starts to degrade before you hit 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter. There’s no need to avoid this tasty fat. The myth about saturated fat has been busted. Butter is fine to use in moderation for adding flavor to veggies or potatoes.
Malaysian palm oil. This healthy tropical oil can replace harmful trans fat. It tolerates heat well, so it’s an ideal all-purpose cooking oil. All palm oil isn’t the same. Look for Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil.
Coconut oil. Another tropical oil which is gaining in popularity, coconut oil’s medium chain fatty acids – also found in grass-fed butter and palm oil – are easily utilized as body fuel, which may help you manage your weight. Coconut oil’s natural sweetness makes it a great choice for baking.
Oils for special occasions
These oils have limited uses, and often a high price.
Avocado oil. Avocado oil is rich in nutrients, because it’s extracted from the fruit’s flesh. The process is similar to olive and palm oil production. Avocado oil tolerates heat up to 500 degrees, which makes it great for broiling.
Macadamia nut oil. Although more commonly used a beauty aid, this sweet and buttery oil is good for your health, too. It contains a 1:1 ration of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Many health experts believe the Western diet contains too many inflammatory omega-6s. Try macadamia nut oil in salads.
Flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is a nutritious, yet delicate oil. It begins breaking down at just 225 degrees, so can’t be exposed to heat. Flaxseed oil is extremely rich in heart-healthy omega-3, but unfortunately, many people find its flavor unappealing. Consider adding a teaspoon of flaxseed oil to your next smoothie to get its health benefits.
Sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is rich in skin-, brain- and heart-healthy vitamin E tocotrienols, one of the components of vitamin E. Unfortunately, it’s also high in inflammatory compounds, so instead of cooking with it, rub some on your cuticles or use it to smooth your hair. Get your tocotrienols instead from Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil.
Genetically modified oils to avoid
If you’re trying to avoid genetically modified foods, put these oils on your “do not buy” list. More than 90 percent of these crops are growing using genetically modified seed.
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
Note: If you use olive oil in cooking and are concerned about it becoming harmful, don’t worry. See the article “Yes, Cooking With Olive Oil Is Perfectly Safe” for more information.
Copyright 2016, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist