Have you ever wondered what oils are the best to consume? And what oils are the best to cook with? Hopefully we can cut through some of the confusion and answer these two important questions.
When it comes to oils, there are certain ones that have stood the test of time. Oils like lard, tallow, butter, olive oil, ghee and coconut oil have been used for centuries. These oils are the least processed and are made by using very simple methods and tools.
Oils like soybean oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and other oils high in polyunsaturated fats are relatively new to our diets and are made by using the modern oil press and chemical extraction agents. It wasn’t until modern technology came along that it was even possible to make some of these other oils we see on the supermarket shelves today. Many of these oils do not taste good until they’ve been highly processed and their flavor and aroma have been removed. In addition, soybean oil is usually treated with a metal catalyst as well. If that isn’t enough to deter you, many of these oils oxidize so quickly they need added preservatives to keep them from oxidizing on the store shelves.
Let’s look at shortening and margarine next. These oils are turned into a solid fat through the process of hydrogenation. Hydrogen gas is chemically bonded to the fat molecules at high temperatures and pressures, followed by the addition of starches and emulsifiers. It then needs to be cleaned and bleached to make it palatable. The end product is a fatty acid that does not exist in nature, which is known as trans-fatty acid, or trans-fat for short. If you eat fast food, you most likely are consuming trans-fats, as they are used in many restaurants and are in many processed foods. These trans-fats are shown to have a negative impact on cardiovascular health and have been linked to diabetes.
So which oils are the best to cook with? Oils all have different smoking points, the point at which the fat starts to break down and free radicals are released into your food making it harmful to your health. Refined oils (sunflower, safflower, soybean, and canola) have had most, if not all their minerals and enzymes removed, which makes them less nourishing, but does leave them with a higher smoke point when cooking on high heat. However, due to all the processing and chemicals used as mentioned above, there are other health concerns with using these refined oils. The more unrefined oils (extra virgin olive oil) have a lower smoking point and are not as suitable to high heat cooking. The best oil options for higher heat cooking are: butter, avocado, coconut, ghee, lard, tallow, and sesame oil. Read more at http://www.mercola.com/infographics/healthiest-cooking-oil.htm.
You may notice that our list of best oil options includes oils that contain saturated fats. For those of us who have spent most of our lives being told that saturated fats were bad, we may need to retrain our brain. Our ancestors used large amounts of saturated fats for centuries. Our bodies need saturated fat. Our cell membranes are made up of saturated fat. We’ve noticed the increasing number of physicians and health professionals writing articles and books addressing the importance of consuming healthy fat to nourish our brain and nervous system (http://www.doctoroz.com/video/3-oils-are-good-your-brain).
We hope this sheds some light on what oil is best for your health, whether you’re consuming it cold on a salad or cooking with it at high temperatures. Enjoy consuming healthy oils knowing you’re feeding your body and brain well. Like a well-oiled machine, think of it as lubricating your body and brain to keep them functioning top notch!
To see a list of the oil brands and other products we use click here.