Good and bad cooking oils – Caruso's Natural Health Blog

Caruso's Natural Health

Good and bad cooking oils

Mapula Strachan
Naturopath
Adv. Diploma
Naturopathy

You have many options when it comes to choosing your oil for cooking, which can become more confusing and frustrating.

There are two types of fatty acids – saturated and unsaturated. The different types of fatty acids are structurally different and as we would expect, they have different functions in the body.

Saturated fats have a single bond and are found in animal products and dairy. These types of fats are solid at room temperature.

Unsaturated fats are divided into two groups known as Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are found primarily in fish, plant oils, seeds and nuts. These “healthy” fats have been shown to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels. Even though these fats are better for you than saturated and trans fats, they are still fats, and intake should be moderate to maintain the best of health.

When cooking on a high heat or deep frying, you would want to use fats that are stable and that don’t oxidise or become rancid. When fats go through oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and become harmful to use.

Anytime you cook food, you run the risk of creating heat-induced damage. The oils you choose to cook with must be stable enough to resist chemical changes when heated on high temperatures, or you run the risk of damaging your health. One of the ways vegetable oils can cause damage is by converting your good cholesterol into bad cholesterol when they oxidise.

Cooking oils to include in your diet

Olive oil: Olive oil can do so much more when it comes to your health. Olive oil is one of the best and healthiest fats, which is pressed from the fruit of the olive. It is known for its benefit in balancing bad LDL cholesterol and raising good HDL cholesterol. Olive oil is packed with antioxidants called phenols, which may protect soft tissues.

Extra virgin olive oil is best used in salad dressings and dips. Olive oil has a low smoke point that is the temperature at which it starts to burn and breaks down causing changes in its molecular structure. It is best to add olive oil towards the end of cooking.

Ensure that you keep your olive oil in a dry, cool, dark place to prevent it from going rancid. 

Ghee: Ghee is the most preferred cooking oil in India, due to its high smoke point which makes it suitable for cooking. Ghee is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) the Essential fatty acid found in grass-fed animals.

Casein and lactose have been removed from ghee, these are the substances that are found in dairy, which many people are sensitive to. Often, those with dairy sensitivities can tolerate ghee.

Palm oil: Palm oil is made from palm fruit, which is a great healthy option for high heat cooking and is native to South East Asia. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding palm oil because many palm oil plantations have contributed to the destruction of rainforests. However, it is important to know your source.

Avocado oil: This is one of the best cooking oils because it has such a high smoke point. However, it contains a reasonable amount of polyunsaturated fats which in excess, have been known to cause inflammation. Because of this, it is best not to use avocado oil as your everyday cooking, but it is a good choice for
occasional use.

Butter: It is believed that high-quality grass fed butter can be good for you in small amounts. Our body and brain need dietary cholesterol as they are essential for our bodies to function properly. Make sure you source good quality grass fed butter, Organic raw grass fed butter is the best option.

Cooking oils to use in moderation

There are two types of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) Omega 3 and Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid. Omega 3 Essential fatty acids are primarily found in fish, shell fish and flaxseed. These oils are good for use in moderation.

Coconut oil: Coconut oil has been used for thousands of years for its astonishing and remarkable health benefits. When it comes to high heat cooking, coconut oil is your best option as it contains an exclusive composition of 90% saturated fatty acids.

Coconut oil has powerful health benefits. It is mainly rich in Lauric Acid which makes it a great oil for wound healing. Make sure to choose organic virgin coconut oil to reap the health benefits.

Canola oil: Is widely recognised as the healthiest salad and cooking oil, which is available to consumers, even though canola oil contains Omega 3s. These oils are fragile and exposed to oxidation through heating. Canola oil also contain uric acid, which can be toxic if consumed in large amounts.

Grape seed oil: Has a moderate high smoke point and contains lots of vitamin E, about twice as much as olive oil. It has the highest concentration of Omega 6 and over 70% polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). As we know, these fats can cause inflammation and can have an absolutely devastating effects on the body’s metabolism.

Oils can be used at the end of cooking to enhance the flavour. Remember to also keep your consumption of all fats to a minimum.