Choices, choices. We love to have them, yet, when we have too many it’s frustrating and confusing. These days that conundrum is happening all over the place! We substitute, customize, and stores are bigger than ever stocked with everything. Each brand is claiming they’re better than the next, so how are we to know what’s really the best option? Recently, a friend of mine was completely over it trying to pick up cooking oil. I get a text…”Leah! Which oil do I use for what?!”
When it comes to cooking, we’ve got a lot of options (shock!) which kind of oil to use. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Smoke point
1. Quality/Taste – You didn’t got through all that effort creating a beautiful meal for it not to taste amazing, right?! A good quality oil will likely taste better than one of lesser quality. Food is meant to be enjoyed! Additionally to note – oils such as coconut and sesame with a distinct flavor are not going to compliment all dishes. Dress them accordingly!
2. Health – Monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated. Saturated. Hydrogenated. Non-hydrogenated. Refined. Unrefined. Organic. Linoleic acids. Non-GMO. Omega 3’s. Omega 6’s. OMG. Head spinning yet? These are all considerations when determining the health benefits of a particular oil. There’s some info below to help you choose accordingly.
3. Smoke Point – We fry. We sauté. We roast. Different methods of cooking = different temperatures = different oils. All oils have a smoke point aka at what point they begin to burn. If it exceeds a temperature the oil can withstand (their smoke point), that once healthy oil can become. Oxidized fats = Inflammatory.
A quick lowdown about oils and the fats they contain:
- ALL oils contain all three types of fats: Polyunsaturated (PUFA), monounsaturated (MUFA), and saturated
- Not all oils contain the same AMOUNT of any of these fats mentioned above (see graph!)
- Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated are the GOOD fats – but for different reasons
- Light, heat, and oxygen can effect the nutritional properties of said oils
- Some polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3’s and omega 6’s. Both are good for you! Unfortunately, most of us get too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3’s in our diet
- Many oils are refined in order to make their smoke point higher. This is not a good thing! Refined = loss of nutrients and chemically altered
- Oils high in omega-6’s: Safflower, grapeseed, sunflower, wheat germ, corn, walnut, and cottonseed oils
- Oils high in (plant-based) omega-3’s: Flax, pumpkin seed, soybean, hemp, and walnut oil
- To avoid GMO’s, buy organic oils (especially if you’re using canola, soybean, and corn)
- Oils should be kept in a cool dry place out of light exposure (which contributes to oxidation)
- Some oil, like that in most dressings, help you to absorb the nutrients in your greens which are fat soluble.
The oil I personally use the most is avocado. Next is EVOO and coconut oil. I make sure to look at the label that they are unrefined too!