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It sounds fairly simple, pick a healthy oil, cook with it. But cooking with healthy oils is a bit more complicated. A google search or two and you define “healthy oil“. What is so hard about that? It’s the types of fats that make up the oil. Oh, and did I mention that some of those fats don’t like to be heated? Now it’s getting tricky, but not to worry, read on.
What makes an oil healthy?
There are three types of fats.
- Saturated Fats
- Monounsaturated Fats
- Polyunsaturated Fats
Let’s start with saturated fats. Saturated fats are considered a stable fat and that makes it very suitable for cooking. These are the fats that are solid at room temperature like coconut oil and butter.
Best Cooking Oil for High Heat
Smoke point is something that is talked about a lot when discussing cooking with oils. Smoke point is the point at which the oil smokes. Oil that has reached it’s smoke point should be discarded. When an oil smokes it indicates damage to the oil and it’s no longer safe to eat. Certain oils aren’t suitable to heat at all, like flax seed oil.
Unsaturated fats are either mono or poly unsaturated. These fats are liquid at room temperature. The monounsaturated fats are good for cooking, like olive and avocado oils. The polyunsaturated fats are not, like sesame and flax seed oils. Polyunsaturated fats like are great to drizzle on foods that have already been cooked. Polyunsaturated oils are also great in dressings.
The oils I choose to cook with the most are coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil. These aren’t the only healthy oils, but they are the ones that fit into recipes I like the best.
Coconut oil is great for baking. You can add it to breads or cakes and the taste is very mild so you don’t change the flavor of the final product. It can be used for medium to high heat.
Best Cooking Oil for Frying
Avocado oil is my go to oil. I use it in everything. Avocado oil has a high smoke point and can be used for medium to high heat. I use it to bake, fry or saute. If I am in a pinch I will even use it for dipping or drizzling because it has a buttery flavor to it that makes it taste yummy.
Olive Oil is the most popular oil I know of. It is great for using cold or for cooking over low heat. The smoke point on olive oil is considered low. This is the oil most people associate with bread dipping or drizzling over salads. Extra Virgin Olive Oil to be exact. Extra Virgin is higher quality and it tastes better.
Are all oils healthy? Nope. It’s important to look at how the oil is being processed or modified. I will give you some examples that I would not personally use and why.
Canola Oil. Canola oil is highly processed. If you have been to my website ConsultColleen.com then you know that processed food is my nemesis. Canola oil is processed at very high temperatures and with chemicals. No thank you.
“A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology.”retrieved from” https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/what-is-gmo/
There is a lot more to know about GMO foods that we won’t go into here. I prefer produce that has not been in a lab. I choose non-GMO because it is works with my non-processed lifestyle the best.
Healthy Cooking Oil Chart
This is a lot of information to digest (pardon the pun). I don’t know about you, but I love cheat sheets. Having a reference to glance at helps me to remember all the great stuff I just learned! Grab this one I created for how to use healthy oils. It is also a great time saver when you start to implement new habits. Like cooking with healthy oils!
There you have it. Cooking with healthy oils explained. It isn’t that hard once you know what to look for, and of course, what to avoid. Now you will be able to fry, saute and drizzle while getting the most nutrition out of the oil. Want to give cutting down on processed foods a try? Grab my free e-book of 7 Super Simple Meals to get you started.