Choosing healthy oils to cook with

Oils are something we think of when cooking but the oils you use and how you use them can play a significant part in determining how healthy your meals are.

We all know that using oils that come from animal sources such as lard, beef dripping, suet or goose fat can be very unhealthy and regular intake can cause a raise in cholesterol and furring of the arteries leading to cardiovascular problems. Choosing oils that are high in Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats will always be the best choice for your health but also ensuring that use is minimal plays an important factor too.

There are many types of healthy cooking oils available, but those different types of oils all have slightly different benefits for health. We’ve put together a list of oils you can find in the supermarket for you so you can determine which one is best for your cooking styles and health.

Sunflower oil

This is produced from the pressing of Sunflower Seeds It is a good source of vitamin E which helps to keep your skin eyes and immune system healthy. It is also low in saturated fat.

This oil is great for all cooking activities like Baking, frying as it has a high smoke point and doesn’t burn as easily as other oils and if you get a pure quality oil then it can also be good for making dressings too.

Peanut oil

Low in saturated fat and trans-fat, Peanut oils are a natural choice for frying as it has a very high smoke point and can be used for deep frying and pan frying without the fear of creating carcinogens. Peanut oil is high in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats so a great option

Rapeseed oil

Like Peanut oil, Rapeseed oil (or canola oil) is high in monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fats and has a high smoke point. It is a popular choice in cooking flavoursome dishes as it has a neutral flavour so won’t change the flavour of your recipe at all.

Avocado oil

Avocado quickly becoming a popular choice among home cooks for many reasons. It has the highest smoke point of all plant-based oils. Avocado oil also provides a rich, buttery flavour and is good source of monounsaturated fat so makes a great ingredient if you are creating dressings of any type.

Palm oil

Palm oils are high in saturated fat and used mainly in the manufacture of foodstuffs but are available in shops too. Unfortunately, as this particular oil is heavily used in industry, the plantations used to grow it are one of the main causes of deforestation in the rainforest areas such as Indonesia, Malaysia and South America and the decline of endangered species such as Orang-utans, Sumatran Tigers and Pygmy Elephants. So, palm oils should be avoided not just on a health basis but also on a moral one too.

Olive oil

Olive oil is used regularly in Mediterranean cooking and a great oil to use for cardiovascular health as it is a good source of vitamin K and monounsaturated fatty acids and contains high levels of antioxidants, oleic acid, and polyphenols.

Olive oils can vary in quality depending on how they are refined, with extra olive oils having a low smoke point which means it is great for dipping, drizzling, and making dressings but not suitable for frying as it burns easily and can create carcinogens. Refined olive oils can be good for sautéing but still not good for use in prolonged high heat.

Sesame oil

Sesame oil is an ingredient in many Asian recipes although is used more as a flavouring oil after main cooking rather than something to fry with. Sesame is rich and nutty in flavour and high in both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Sesame oil is delicate and can turn rancid quicker than other oils, so you should store it in the refrigerator. 

Coconut oil

Like palm oils, Coconut oil is high in saturated fat. Coconut oil has a distinct coconut flavour and is good for use in cooking many Asian dishes, but low use is recommended just due to the saturates content.

Corn oil

This is a good oil to cook with as it has a high smoke point, is high in polyunsaturated fats and also contains Omega 6 fatty acids. It has a neutral flavour so is a popular choice to cook with without changing the flavour of other foods.

Soyabean oil

Soybean oil is commonly used in the production of packaged goods, from sauces and dressings to fried items such as tortilla chips but can be found in shops too. Although high in polyunsaturated fat and omega-6 fatty acids, it does also have higher amounts of saturated fat than other comparable oils so not necessarily the best choice for healthy cooking.

So, when you are shopping for oils, think about the oils you are buying and the potential health effects they can have on your health. Just remember, all oils, even if they are healthier oils, should be used in moderation as they still count towards your overall fat intake.

If you would like more information about healthy oils to use in your cooking, then please talk to an Everyone health Nutritionist or Health Trainer.

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