Don’t misunderstand. I love olive oil like the rest of you! But, many, many other wonderful and healthy cooking oils abound. And they are just waiting for the pour, the drizzle or the saute to bring great flavor and great health!
Follow below to learn which cooking oils you want to include in your kitchen and why, which oils are best to heat with for important health reasons (and which are not!), which oils have the healthiest fat profile and lots more to help you stock your healthy kitchen the best way!
WHY COOKING WITH AN ASSORTMENT OF OILS IS BEST FOR YOUR HEALTH
There are many reasons to have an assortment of oils to cook your favorite dishes. Come find why you should expand your selection and include some oils over others:
1. Mix it up!
Don’t choose the same cooking oil each time. Cooking oils all contain various health benefits; thus cooking with an assortment of them allows exposure to the variety of minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients as well as healthy types of fats they contain.
2. Not all fats are the same.
All oils contain fatty acids, but some contain more of the better ones like omega-3s and monounsaturated fats.
- Research shows strong evidence that the omega-3 EPA and DHA can help lower triglycerides and blood pressure. They may even aid with other conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and more.
- Monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy because they maintain good HDL cholesterol levels while lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels.
3. Some oils have a beautiful profile.
Here are some of the oils with a better fat profile:
- olive oil: Of course, it had to make an appearance on the list. But, the accolades are well-deserved. It is very low in omega-6s and high in flavonoids, a great health-promoter. It is not a good choice for heated cooking and best saved to use at room temperature for salads, pastas, sauces and yes, even as a moisturizer. Go cold-pressed.
- avocado oil: It is high in vitamin E and unsaturated fats and contains loads of potassium. It is a great choice for heated cooking. See the next section on this critical point.
- rice bran oil: Both the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association state rice bran oil has the best possible composition of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats compared to all other vegetable oils. This balance of fatty acids helps reduce cholesterol levels in your body because the beneficial forms of cholesterol actually inhibit the harmful forms of cholesterol from binding in the body. It is another great choice for heated cooking.
- lard and duck fat: I am listing this, but honestly have not cooked with it myself. But it is moderately high in monounsaturated fat and low in omega-6s.
Don’t miss this: The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil frequently. Find great recipes here for cooking the Mediterranean way!
WHY KNOWING THE SMOKE POINT OF COOKING OILS IS CRITICAL TO YOUR HEALTH
The smoke point of an oil or fat is an important consideration when cooking as making the wrong choice can negatively affect your health. The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil gives off smoke and then starts to burn and go rancid. Here is why that is important to pay attention to:
- Rancid oil forms harmful free radicals in the body, which are known to cause cellular damage and have been associated with diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions like cancer, too.
- Digestive issues can result from consuming rancid oils.
- Rancid oils can deplete the body of vitamins B and E.
Here are some important facts about smoke point and the various oils for you to make the wisest choice:
1. Look closely.
The smoke point of oil depends also largely on its age and purity – hard to determine on your grocery store shelf. But, remember these two points when shopping:
- Generally speaking, the lighter the color of the oil, the higher its smoke point.
- It is important to check out the expiration date on the bottle of oil before using.
2. You may need to begin again!
Oils that contain high smoke points are healthier to cook with and do not ruin your dish by burning it. If you leave the pan on the stove to heat the oil and then look away and glance back to find it smoking (guilty!), start over. Always discard oil that’s reached its smoke point along with any food with which it had contact as it now has gone rancid. So not good for you.
3. Go for the double advantage.
Some of the oils with the highest smoke point and ones that contain some great health advantages (listed in the previous section) are as follows:
- avocado oil: 520 degrees
- ghee: 375 – 485 degrees (depending on purity) See below for more on its potential health advantages.
- rice bran oil: 490 degrees
HOW TO STORE YOUR COOKING OILS FOR BEST HEALTH
Take care of your cooking oils as they are expensive and can make or ruin your dish. Here are two easy but important considerations when storing and buying your oils:
1. Keep them covered, cool and dark.
The decorative bottles are pretty next to your range, but it is best to store your oils in a cool, dark place away from the heat. This protects them from breaking down or even going rancid. Remember to only buy oils that have been stored in dark glass bottles or tins and preferably in a store that has a quick turnover in their merchandise.
2. Some oils like it really cool.
Some oils should be refrigerated like flax, sesame and hemp oils.
FOUR OTHER HEALTHY COOKING OILS TO CONSIDER
The choice of healthy cooking oils is endless and expanding every day (a good thing!), but here are a few that I am using lately and why. If you are interested, I have linked to products I use and have found to be delicious and of excellent value.
Ghee has traditionally been used in Ayurveda medicine in place of butter fat for potential health benefits like the ones below:
- It is thought to naturally lubricate connective tissues in your body aiding in flexibility.
- Ghee’s anti-inflammatory properties are also to believed to speed the recovery of wounds and heal blisters.
- It may also serve as a powerful agent in digestive health, When used in place of butter, oils and other fats, ghee may help to reduce the acid in your stomach while protecting and repairing your stomach lining.
2. Macadamia Nut Oil has a wonderfully buttery finish and contains some unique healthful properties like these:
- Macadamia Nut Oil contains palmitoleic acid, a specific monounsaturated fatty acid that may speed up fat metabolism, thus reducing the body’s ability to store fat.
- It is also high in magnesium, manganese, copper, and iron.
3. Coconut Oil – I bake with coconut oil, saute with it sometimes, use it in dessert sauces, and lately even adding it to my coffee. Buy the extra virgin and unrefined. Here are some facts about it:
- It is high in saturated fat but it can actually increase HDL levels in your cholesterol profile (a good kind) and reduce heart disease.
- It contains lauric acid which also has antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
- This oil is high in omega 3s.
- It contains a high amount of vitamin C and E as well as zinc, selenium, magnesium and copper.
It can be heavily refined though, so check out the label.
FOR EVEN MORE ON THE TOPIC . . .
- Do check out this book that goes into great detail of cooking with various oils with loads of healthy recipes, too!
- Some fish contain lots of healthy fats too. Here is what fish to buy, not to buy and how to prepare it the healthiest and tastiest way!
- Besides stocking your kitchen with the healthiest oils to help you and your family, here are some other easy tips to get your kitchen in tip-top healthy shape!