Your cooking oil can make you sick! My top 3 choices to use for a cooking oil!
The best and worst oils to cook with!
We use a lot of oil in our house! It's one way we make sure that we're getting enough good fat in our diet! Fat is necessary! Every meal should contain a good source of fat. Our brains are made of about 60% fat. Without ingesting good fats we can have brain fog, anxiety, depression, and possibly Alzheimer's. Good fats are even more important for pregnant women and children to consume to help the brain develop.
Important stuff to know about oils
Before we talk about the actual oils, I feel that there are some important oil related terms to know.
First is smoke point. The smoke point is the highest temperature that a specific oil should reach before it starts to emit VOC's (volatile organic compounds) or oxidizes.
Second term is oxidation/oxidize: "Oil oxidation is an undesirable series of chemical reactions involving oxygen that degrades the quality of an oil...All oil is in a state of oxidation - you cannot stop it completely - but there are ways to reduce it." (1) The chemical reactions that occur in oxidation produce free radicals which damage our bodies cells. Oxidation causes inflammation.
Next is PUFA - Polyunsaturated fatty acids. This type of fat is very bad for us and we should avoid it as much as possible! PUFAs are found in industrially processed oils. Basically, due to the structure of this fat it's very unstable. It can be easily damaged by light, heat, and oxygen. Damaged fats = oxidation. "A high consumption of oxidized polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are found in most types of vegetable oil may increase the likelihood that postmenopausal women will develop breast cancer." (2)
Then there are MUFAs - Monounsaturated fatty acids. This is considered the healthy fatty acid. Consumption of MUFAs can reduce your risk for heart disease. MUFAs are food based.
Now the controversial Saturated fat - Most animal fats are saturated. For over 50 years, media has told us that saturated fats are bad for us. That is true for some saturated fats, but some are good for us also. This is because saturated fats contain a couple different types of fatty acids, and the health benefit, or lack of, depends on the balance of the fatty acids in the saturated fats. The general rule of thumb is go with what is processed the least! The saturated fats of vegetable oils are very harmful to our health because they're ultra processed with high heat and chemicals. Saturated fats that are actually beneficial to our health are those from grass-fed meat, dairy that comes from grass-fed cows, and coconut oil.
Last but not least is MCT (medium chain triglycerides). Coconut oil is a great source of MCTs. MCTs are very easily absorbed and require very little from our metabolism. Because MCT is so readily available to our system, we don't store it as fat and it's immediately ready to be used as fuel by our body (aka a quick form of energy)!
Now we get to the good stuff - oils!
Olive oil has a smoke point of 380 degrees, which makes it good for all forms of cooking except frying. This is one of my top choices for an oil to cook with. Look for extra virgin olive oil. “Extra virgin” means the oil was pressed out of the olive and not extracted by heating or the use of chemicals, both heat and chemicals alter the state of the oil and can be harmful to us. Check the expiration date and try to find a bottle that has a harvest date on it. The fresher the better! Olive oil oxidizes and goes rancid with exposure to heat, light and air - so the sooner it gets to you from the olive the better! Buy EVOO that is in a dark glass bottle and then keep it in a dark cupboard. Labels to look for on the EVOO bottle are ‘organic’ or the Non-GMO project. Go to your local farmers market and buy from a local olive oil maker that makes the oil in small batches and can tell you all about their process. Olive oil contains about 67% monounsaturated fatty acid. "Research has shown monounsaturated fatty acids to be one of the healthiest kinds of fats you can consume. They are known to help reduce your LDL cholesterol levels". (3) Probably the best benefit of monounsaturated fatty acids is they help to decrease inflammation in the body.
Coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees, which makes it good for all forms of cooking except frying. It is 87% saturated fat. Because of the high amount of saturated fat, coconut oil is solid if it's cooler than 76 degrees. Now I know this may be kind of confusing because for so long we've been taught that saturated fat are bad for our health. Remember how I mentioned that the fatty acids in the saturated fats are what determine if it's good or bad for us? 50% of the saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid. According to WebMD, "lauric acid is used to treat viral infections including influenza,..the common cold,..herpes,...HPV,...HIV". (4)
I use refined coconut oil for my cooking (I'm not a big fan of all my food tasting like coconut). One of the things that makes coconut oil so good for us are the high percentage of MCT's (medium-chain triglycerides). "MCTs go straight to the liver. There they can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones...ketones can cross from the blood to the brain. This provides an alternative energy source for the brain..". (5). Because of this, coconut oil has been shown to decrease symptoms of Alzheimer's.
Avocado oil's smoke point is 480 degrees. Because of the high smoke point avocado oil is great for all types of cooking, including frying. Avocado oil comes from the fruit itself and is best when it's expeller pressed or cold pressed and organic. Avocado oil has an even higher amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) than olive oil at about 75%. Look for avocado oil that is in a dark glass bottle with an expiration date (possible even a harvest date), expeller pressed, and organic.
Vegetable oil. Refers to soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, and safflower oil. All vegetable oils are PUFAs. High temperatures and chemicals are used to turn the plant into vegetable oil. This process turns the oil into hydrogenated oil (aka trans fat) which most of us know to avoid because trans fats are known to cause major health issues. "Hydrogenated oil is one molecule away from being plastic." (6)
Vegetable oils contain large amounts of Omega-6 PUFAs. While Omega-6 is necessary in our diet, Americans tend to eat way too much. The ratio of Omega-6 fatty acid to Omega-3 should be 1:1 and we’re getting about 20:1 (which means we’re consuming 20 times more Omega 6 than we are Omega 3). That number varies with each individual, but the point is most of us are consuming waaay to much Omega - 6. Omega - 6 is a pro-inflammatory fat, and we know that inflammation is the cause of almost every disease that is plaguing us. This study found that too much Omega-6 in breast milk was associated with asthma and eczema in young children. Omega-3's are anti-inflammatory. A lot of the packaged food we eat contains these vegetable oils which is part of our too high intake of Omega-6. PLUS soybean, corn, and canola oil are genetically modified (unless marked by the Non-GMO project).
So my top three choices are Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Avocado Oil. Stay away from all forms of vegetable oils!!!!
I hope you found this article informative! Let me know which oil you love in the comments!
Peace, love and wellbeing!!