Do You Need An Oil Check?

The Best Oil To Use & For What

The best oils to use for heating food are those high in monounsaturated fats as they are more stable when heated and they provide added health benefits. Polyunsaturated fats are not recommended for cooking but when used raw can also offer healthful properties such as vitamin E.

Fats known as trans fats occur in processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, processed and fast foods and should be avoided. Trans fats do occur naturally in animal products such as meat and milk which if consumed in moderation can be part of a healthy balanced diet.

With any oil, heating them above 375°F (190.5°C), is not recommended as when they are heated over this temperature, it increases the chances of a toxic compound called 4-hydroxy-2-trans-nonenal which can have a detrimental impact on health.

For shallow frying it’s best to use oils with a high smoke point such as canola oil.  Coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil are also good to use for shallow frying. Coconut oil contains high levels of saturated fat so should be used in moderation, so a little with your stir-fry is welcome. Avocado oil contains high levels of monounsaturated fat, which means that it stays fairly stable when heated. Avocado oil raises the levels of good cholesterol in the body and lowers the bad and is a good source of vitamin E.

Sunflower oil is good for shallow frying as it has a high smoke point and is also a good source of vitamin E but should be used in moderation as it contains high levels of omega-6. Consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation in the body so balance is needed. Canola oil is suitable for frying and research has shown that it may help to reduce cholesterol compared to other sources of fat.

When roasting, olive oil is a good choice. Being high in antioxidants, it has anti-inflammatory properties and the fatty acids make it more stable when heated at high temperatures of up to 190°C (not over).  Avocado oil is also good for roasting, so seems to be winning on al fronts! Extra virgin olive oil is also good for salads and dressings, as is flaxseed oil.

To avoid or reduce the use of oils, cooking methods such as grilling and roasting can be implemented more frequently. Brushing food with the oil rather than pouring oil over reduces quantity as does cooking with non-stick pans.  Using other liquids such as stock, water, vinegars are also good methods and serve as a great base for extra flavour and a base for sauces.

Little changes can add up to make real a impact over the years on health so see if you need a little oil check.