Which is the best cooking oil?
I have been so confused about this for a long time… but finally, I managed to find a few of the healthiest cooking oils.
As there are so many varieties of fats and oils are available for cooking, you certainly need to analyze the pros and cons before adopting one or two of them as your choicest oil for cooking.
You should consider two points while choosing the healthy cooking oil
- The oil must be good for health
- The food stays healthy for long after it is cooked.
Relevance Of Oils In Cooking
We will be deprived of many of the tastiest menus if we decide not to use cooking oils in the culinary process. In fact, many of the most relished dishes all over the world are the ones prepared by frying or sautéing in oils.
We use oils not only for frying but also to marinate meats and vegetables, dress salads, and flavor dishes. Just to say, we cannot prepare sumptuous food without the oils.
There are many kinds of oil available to us. Most of the oils come from seeds and nuts of different plants and the most popularly used among them are soybean, palm, and rapeseed/canola oils (these three accounts for 60% of total cooking oils used in the world).
Is Cooking Oil Unhealthy?
Many health-conscious people keep harping on that all cooking oils are unhealthy. There are also divided opinions on which is the best cooking oil.
But the truth is very far from many of these arguments based on unfound prepositions.
Most cooking oils have a positive impact on health in several ways. Good cooking oils provide healthy fats and fatty acids to the body.
Healthy fats improve the levels of good cholesterol in the blood. Most of the vegetable oils contain omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids that reduce the risk of heart diseases and strokes and improves the health of the brain. Some of the vegetable oils contain Vitamin E and Vitamin K.
All types of oils (fat) enables the body to absorb quickly fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and nutrients.
Most of the cooking oils are good for health, but it becomes bad when the daily consumption of oil exceeds the permissible amount. In our daily intake of calories, the oil should not be more than 30% percentage of the total calories consumed (maximum 95g for men and 70g for women).
Healthy Cooking Oil Suitability Standards
It is the fatty acids that constitute a significant portion of all fats (oils & fat). The specific chemical structure possessed by fatty acids in each of the oils decides their quality in cooking and impact on health.[7,8]
The cooking oils and animal fats are classified as saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated according to the chemical structure of fatty acids contained in them.
Saturated fats are considered to be ill-healthy while polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are found to be healthier. However, while choosing a healthy cooking oil, it is very important to take into consideration the oxidization and rancidity factors of the particular oil.
Most of the saturated fats/oils (previously considered as bad) are today scientifically proved to be a healthier choice than some others that are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
If the oil is not resistant to oxidation, it is possible that by the time that particular oil begins to break down, a lot of free radicals and carbon compounds will be formed in the oil. These free radicals and harmful compounds are dangerous to health in the long run.[10,11]
Good cooking oil must have the qualities of stability, low oxidization, and long shelf life. The free radicals and bad compounds formed in the oil due to oxidation while heating is not good for consumption as it can give rise to many diseases over a period.[12,13]
It is found that saturated fats are more resistant to oxidation as they are made up of single bond fatty acids, whereas monounsaturated fats have a double bond molecular structure and polyunsaturated fats have two or more bonds.[16,17]
The highest amount of chemical reactions and free-radical formation takes place when fats with two or more molecular bonds are heated.
It is obvious here, those oils with a lot of polyunsaturated fats are actually bad for consumption.
Choosing cooking oils with high oxidation resistance is important.
Let us see some of the best oils/fats we can safely use for cooking without compromising on the tastiness of the food.
Best Cooking Oils
Our top 3 best oils for cooking oils are coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.
There is no other oil better than coconut oil if you need to do high heat cooking. Some may disregard coconut oil as it contains 90%
saturated fat in it, but this oil is very resistant to heat and oxidation.
Another big advantage of this oil is its long shelf-life; it will not get spoiled for a year or two as it remains in semi-solid form at room temperature.
Some of the diet gurus in the past had been vehemently opposing coconut oil as an enemy of cholesterol and cardiovascular health. They got just got it incorrect!
Recent studies show the several health benefits of coconut oil. It improves the level of good cholesterol in the blood because of the Lauric acid present in it. This oil has medicinal benefits as it can eliminate some of the dangerous bacteria and pathogens.
This oil helps a lot in improving metabolism. The foods prepared in coconut oil are more satiating and filling.
Discard the old school of thoughts on Coconut oil; all recent studies are for using coconut oil as the best oil for high heat cooking.[20, 21]
Contrary to traditional diet plans, saturated fats are good and safe sources of energy for human beings.
One significant pointed to be followed; pick and choose only the 100% pure and organic coconut oil because we want to enjoy all its health benefits and authentic taste.
Most of us love butter. It tastes so great!
But we are warned by old-school dietitians; do not to consume butter as it contains saturated fats (70%)…. Don’t take this warning so seriously.
Butter is bad only if you are using the processed margarine which is bad. The pure dairy butter is deliciously tasty and good for health too.
The quality of butter is excellent especially if it is sourced from cows reared on green pastures and moors.
Butter is very nutritious with a lot of health benefits. It is a good source of Vitamin E, K2, and A. Linoleic Acid and Butyrate present in the butter is good for fighting inflammation and reducing body fats.
For cooking purposes, it is better to use the clarified butter (available in stores) in which sugar and protein are removed. Normal butter tends to get burned if it is used in high heat cooking.
Olive oil is sufficiently resistant to heat, and a very less amount of free radicals are formed while heating.
It contains mostly monounsaturated fat (75%), and the rest is saturated fats (14%) and polyunsaturated fats (11%).
Olive oil has several health benefits associated with it.
Most importantly it improves cardiovascular health better than all the other oils.
For people who have cholesterol issues, this is a good choice. This oil helps in improving the levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood and at the same time reduces LDL cholesterol.
While choosing the olive oil, do not go for the refined one. It is advantageous to use the ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ which is rich in nutrients and authentic taste.
Olive oil is good as it can keep the food fresh for a longer time. Preferably, you must store this oil in cool and dry places to prevent the loss of quality.
Second Best Options For Cooking Oils
It may not be convenient for all to use Olive, Coconut, and Butter for cooking. Here is a list of oils that you can, but some of them have some limitations and drawbacks.
The cooking oil obtained from the fruit of oil palms is very popular in many countries of the world. It is, in fact, the cheapest cooking oil of reasonably good quality.
The molecules’ structures of fat found in this oil are mostly saturated, and monounsaturated which is good for cooking.
This oil is also rich in Vitamin E and other nutrients. It also contains a high percentage of oleic acid which can help in increasing good cholesterol. However, The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association caution people that this oil can give rise to cardiovascular diseases.
The animal fat obtained from bacon dripping is an excellent oil for cooking.
However, the quality of bacon fat may be bad in some cases as some of them contain a lot of polyunsaturated fat if the animals were fed on grains.
It is healthy to use bacon fat that contains unsaturated and monounsaturated fats; especially those got from animals that live and grow in natural green pastures and fed on green grass and plants.
The fish oil that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids is an excellent oil for cooking. Fish oil is good for improving cardiovascular health. It helps in maintaining the skin healthy and young and improves the memory and health of the brain as well.
The oil from avocado fruit is a healthy cooking oil that is mostly monounsaturated in form. It has lots of similarities with olive oil, and this too can be used just like olive oil.
This oil is good for the skin as it improves collagen production. This oil is also used for healing inflammations and wounds.
Not ‘So’ Healthy Cooking Oils
Flax Oil is commonly known as the best source of Omega-3 from plants source. All pure vegans must have this oil to balance the bodily requirements of Omega-3.
However, this oil contains a lot of polyunsaturated fats and for this reason, it is not recommended for cooking. It is better to use this oil for dressing salads and flavoring dishes.
Canola oil is one of the most popularly used oil. This oil is accepted by most people as healthy cooking oil as it is the refined form of rapeseed oil with no toxins in it.
It contains mostly monounsaturated fat and is also rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 in a perfect ratio.
Since it is highly processed oil, it cannot match the organic quality of coconut and olive oils. Most food processing involves the usage of some chemicals which can have hidden impacts on health.
It is healthy and wise to avoid using any heavily processed oils and food items.
Almost all of the oils from nuts are polyunsaturated, and they are vulnerable to oxidations.
They usually taste great and are very nutritious too. You could certainly use them in the culinary process except as cooking oils.
You can find a few verities of nut oil that are low in polyunsaturated fat that fit for cooking.
Vegetable Oils are mostly obtained from vegetable seeds and industrial seeds. Usually, these oils are highly processed and refined to make them fit for cooking.
It is always safer to avoid all processed oils as a thumb rule.
Many of the recent studies also point to the side effects of vegetable oils on cardiovascular health.
It is better to avoid these oils:
- Soybean Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Rapeseed Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Corn Oil
- Safflower Oil
Storing And Preserving Cooking Oil
All cooking oils, as they are rich in fat contents, are prone to becoming rancid fast. Unsaturated oils are more prone to becoming rancid faster.
The oils must always be preserved in cool and shady places. Always keeps them in tightly closed bottles or jars as they can get oxidized quickly when exposed to light, oxygen, and above room temperature conditions.
If you are living in humid and hot tropical climates, it is better to preserve the oils in the refrigerator (except the virgin olive oils). Have a look at the manufacturers’ instruction label on how to preserve the oil and follow the same.
It is always best to store the oils in dark glass bottles or ceramic and porcelain vessels.
Dispose of the oils that have crossed the expiry date; most of the oils become rancid after six months to one year. Try to dispose of the rancid oil by burning it in the fire; or else the drainages and water streams will become polluted.
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