When it comes to cooking oils, there are many different options available to choose from. Walk down a cooking oil aisle in a grocery store and you will be sure to find a plethora of choices. In fact, there can be so many choices that choosing one can actually be quite overwhelming.
If your top priority is finding cooking oil that is healthy for you, you may not know where to begin. To assist you with finding the healthiest oil to cook with, here is a detailed guide to the healthiest cooking oil.
The Healthiest Oils STAY Healthy
When choosing a healthy oil, you want to choose one that stays healthy after it has been cooked with; not one that is only healthy while it is in the bottle.
When unhealthy oil is cooked with at a high temperature, it can oxidize or go rancid. When oils are oxidized, they react with oxygen, which makes them form free radicals and other harmful compounds that you do not want to ingest. Therefore, the key to finding the healthiest oil to cook with is to choose one that resists the oxidation process and won’t go rancid, both when used at high temperatures and low temperatures. The easiest way to determine whether or not an oil can resist oxidation and going rancid is the degree that the fatty acids within the oil saturate.
Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are fairly resistant to heating; however, oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats are far more prone to oxidization and going rancid, which means that you should avoid cooking with them.
How can you tell which oils contain saturated fats and monounsaturated fats, and which contain polyunsaturated fats? – Reading the label is one way. Another way is to keep on reading to find out more valuable information about the healthiest cooking oil options.
The Healthiest Oil to Cook With
There are several healthy cooking oil options. Here is a rundown of some of the best choices.
The healthiest cooking oil, hands down, is coconut oil. Because more than 90% of the fatty acids within this oil are saturated, it is able to withstand high heats, which means that it doesn’t oxidize or go rancid; and for you, the consumer, that means that you are able to get the healthiest stuff out of the oil after it has been cooked with, without being exposed to nasty compounds.
At room temperature, coconut oil is semi-solid and it can be kept for years without going rancid.
Coconut oil has some pretty impressive health benefits. Because it is a rich source of Lauric Acid, a specific type of fatty acid, coconut oil can improve cholesterol and help to kill bacteria and several other types of pathogens.
Another benefit of coconut oil is its ability to boost metabolism and increase the feeling of fullness. This is because of the fats that are contained within this type of oil.
The breakdown of coconut oil is as follows:
- Saturated fats – 92%
- Monounsaturated fats – 6%
- Polyunsaturated fats – 1.6%
When choosing coconut oil, opt for the virgin variety. It is organic, it tastes delicious, and it packs a powerful punch for your heatlh.
Olive oil has long been highly regarded for the heart healthy effects it boasts. Another advantage of this type of oil is that it has the potential to improve biomarkers of health. It can actually raise your HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and lower the amount of oxidized LDL cholesterol that is circulating in your blood. Talk about impressive!
The breakdown of this healthy cooking oil is as follows:
- Saturated fats – 14%
- Monounsaturated fats – 75%
- Polyunsaturated fats – 11%
Studies indicate that although olive oil has fatty acids with double bonds, it is still pretty resistant to high heat, and therefore won’t oxidize.
Yet another of the healthiest oils to cook with is palm oil.
This oil is derived from the fruit of oil palms and it consists mainly of saturated and monounsaturated fats. It does contain some polyunsaturated fats, but a small amount.
Red palm oil is the best to choose because it is unrefined and it is rich in vitamins E, coenzyme Q10, as well as other valuable nutrients.
Avocados are known to be one of the healthiest forms of good-for-you fats you can find, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the oil of this fruit is also good for you.
This healthy cooking oil is comprised mostly of monounsaturated fats, though there are some saturated and polyunsaturated fats in there, too.
The consistency of this oil is similar to olive oil, which means that you can cook with it the same way you would cook with olive oil; however, the most common way to enjoy avocado oil is cold.
Canola oil is yet another healthy oil to cook with. It is made from grape seeds, though the euric acid is removed from it. The majority of the fatty acids in canola oil are monounsaturated. It also contains Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, which is at a 2-1 ratio, which is actually very good.
There are several types of nut oils available, and many of them have a great taste. However, with that said, do keep in mind that they are high in polyunsaturated fats, which means that they can easily oxidize when they are cooked with at high temperatures. If you are going to use this type of oil to cook with, avoid cooking at high temperatures.
What are Some Oils to Avoid?
There are certain oils that you should avoid cooking with at all costs. These oils are industrial seed and vegetable oils.
They are a poor choice because they are very processed and refined, which makes them very high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Not only should you avoid cooking with them, but it is best to avoid using them completely.
While many nutritional professionals have deemed these oils good for the heart, the opposite is actually true. New studies indicate that these types of oils can actually cause serious health issues, such as heart disease and cancer.
These types of oils include:
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil
- Rice Barn oil
- Sesame oil
It is best for your health to avoid all of these types of oils; not just while cooking, but completely.
Cooking with Healthy Oil
There are many ways that you can cook with oil. Of course, the most common way to prepare food with oil is to use it as a base for frying; however, there are several other ways that you can use it in your food preparation.
Some of the different ways that you can use healthy cooking oil include:
- Grill with it
- Use it to sauté
- Use it to make your own salad dressings, marinades, sauces and dips
- Drizzle it on top of food to add flavor
- Use it to season your cast iron cookware
- Use it as a substitute for butter, margarine or other forms of solid fats in your recipes
Caring for Your Cooking Oils
In order to ensure that your healthy cooking oil stays healthy, it is important that you properly care for them. If they are not properly cared for, they can go rancid, which will turn your healthiest oil into an extremely unhealthy food option.
Some key tips to keep in mind in order to properly care for your healthy cooking oils include:
- Avoid buying large amounts at one time. Instead, buy a smaller amount, that way you can use it before it has a chance to go bad.
- Keep them in an environment where they won’t go rancid, such as a dark, dry, cool space. This is particularly true for oils that contain unsaturated fats, such as avocado oil and palm oil.
- Make sure that the lids are securely screwed on when they are not in use. Doing so will avoid contaminants from getting into the oil, which can compromise the quality of the oil.
Cooking Without Oil is the Best Option
Though there are a lot of cooking oils available, and many of them are considered to be the “healthiest oil” to cook with, if you really want to maximize your health, avoid cooking with oil all together.
Oil – even the healthiest oil – contains compounds that can impact the health of your heart and other parts of your body. That said, it is best to avoid cooking with oil completely.
In lieu of cooking with oil, purchase an air fryer for your frying needs. These appliances allow you to perfectly fry your food with air, which means that you can avoid consuming those unhealthy compounds that are often found in even the healthiest cooking oil. Air fryers are easy to cook with, they create delicious and healthy food, and they are easy to clean up. And, you don’t need to add any other ingredients, such as oil, to cook with them.