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Fat and oils are an important part of the diet and should constitute around 5-10% of our diet. It’s very important to use fat and oils which are not only healthy, but that also remain healthy even after cooking with them.

When one is cooking with high temperatures you would want to use oils that are stable, that don’t go rancid and which don’t oxidize easily. When oxidation occurs, the oils react with oxygen and then form free radicals which are harmful to the body. It’s also very important to make sure that cooking oil is stored in a cool, dark and dry place to avoid exposure to light and air which can also oxidize the oil.

Oils with saturated and monounsaturated fats are best to use when cooking because they don’t undergo oxidation. Polyunsaturated fatty oils oxidize under high temperatures and should therefore not be used in cooking but rather consumed raw.

Seed and vegetable oils are highly processed and refined products which contain high levels of omega-6, which initiate inflammatory processes in the body, and should rather be avoided. These include sunflower, canola, safflower, soya-bean, grape-seed, sesame and corn oils.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is the healthiest oil one can use to cook with at high temperatures. More than 90% of the fatty acids in this oil are saturated which makes it highly resistant to oxidation. The fats in this oil can also boost metabolism and increase satiety, which means that it can make one feel fuller for longer. The better option to use here is raw virgin coconut oil rather than the refined version.

Butter  

Butter has gotten a bad reputation in the past but it’s an ideal product to cook with because it contains high levels of saturated and monounsaturated fats. It also contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which helps the body to metabolize fat faster. Butter does contain small amounts of glucose and protein, so one may want to consider using clarified butter or 'ghee' so that it doesn’t burn when used for cooking.

Olive oil

Olive oil has been clinically proven to increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels in the body and this cholesterol helps to maintain cardiovascular health. It mainly contains monounsaturated fats which makes it fairly resistant to cooking temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil is an ideal choice as it contains more antioxidants and nutrients that the refined product.

Avocado oil

This oil is very similar to olive oil and can also be used cold in salads, for example.

Animal fats

Animal fats such as lard and bacon drippings can be beneficial in cooking due to their fatty acid levels. Grain fed animals will yield high levels of polyunsaturated fats, whereas free-range animals result in saturated and monounsaturated fats. Ideally, then, one would want to use the fat from free-range animals for cooking.

Palm oil

Palm oil comes from the fruit of oil palms and contain mainly saturated and monounsaturated fats. The best variety of palm oil is red palm oil which isn’t refined. It also contains coenzyme Q10 which is a very important protein which helps to maintain heart health. Palm oil tree levels have reduced drastically over the years, therefore this oil has to be sustainably sourced.

Macadamia oil

Of all the available nut oils, macadamia oil is the only one that contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids. This makes it ideal for cooking and it’s suggested to use it for low or medium temperatures. This is a rather pricey oil, but it does have a very pleasant taste.

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