Cooking Oils

19 January 2022

There are a number of different oils designed for cooking food. Some have different tastes and uses. One reason many people avoid cooking with oils is the fat content. While you need to follow your physicians directions, some oils contain healthy fats, which actually help your diet, if used in moderation. When an oil smokes or burns, it is using up any healthy fats and antioxidants. Each different type of oil has its own smoke point temperature. The higher the smoke point, the more chance you have of retaining those good fats.

Canola – This is a neutral-tasting oil that comes from the rapeseed plant. It has a high smoke point so it is often used for frying and baking. It is one of the oils used in making margarine. While it doesn’t contain as much Omega-2 as extra-virgin olive oil, it does have one of the lowest levels of saturated fats. It also contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body can convert to essential fatty acids. This makes it a good choice for vegetarians.

Olive – If you have ever tried to eat an olive fresh off the tree, you will find it rather distasteful. Olives need to be processed before eating. Both the fruit and pits are used to make olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is green or yellow and has the lowest smoke point of any oil around. Bottles that say “olive oil” are a mixture of refined and extra-virgin oils.

Vegetable – This is a versatile oil and can come from soybean, palm, sunflower, safflower, canola or a combination. Read the ingredients label to truly know what you are getting. Nutritionally it depends on the combination of the blend. It has a medium-high smoke point and has a neutral taste.

Sunflower – Using only the seeds, this is a refined oil but is high in Omega-6 fatty acids. It is recommended to lower inflammation. The best choice is one with high oleic acid. It is a high smoke point oil.

Peanut – Use this only if you are positive that no one has a peanut allergy or sensitivity. Other than that, it is very heart healthy with a neutral taste. Refined peanut oil has a medium-high smoke point and is used for frying, including deep frying.

Coconut – This oil is the highest in saturated fat and not good for anyone battling high blood pressure. It is, however, quite tasty. It has a medium smoke point.

Avocado – Comprised mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids, this is a very healthy oil and you will enjoy its sweet scent. It has a high smoke point so is used for frying and searing.

Almond – Low in saturated fat, this nutty flavored oil is used for searing and browning because of its high smoke point. It is also frequently used on salads.

Because they are sensitive to heat and light, store cooking oils in a cool, dark place. It is best to buy in quantities that you expect to use within a month or so after opening. Before using, always smell the bottle to see if the scent has changed at all. If so, dispose of immediately.

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