What are the Healthiest and Least Toxic Cooking Oils?
ALL ABOUT COOKING OILS
What are the Healthiest and Least Toxic Cooking Oils?
Using oil in cooking is a wonderful way to supply your body with beneficial monounsaturated fats, antioxidants such as vitamin E, and protect your heart against disease. There are an overwhelming abundance of oils used for cooking, but which oil is right for you? The answer totally depends on what type of cooking your doing! Heating oil changes its characteristics, and some oils that are healthy at room temperature can quickly transform into unhealthy when overheated. It’s crucial to match your oil of choice with its heat tolerance level before you start cooking. When you heat oil past its tolerance level, it not only harms the flavor, but many of the nutrients in the oil degrade, releasing harmful toxins that cause damage to your body.
The general rule of thumb when choosing what oils to cook with is looking for unrefined, expeller or cold pressed organic oils from brands you know and trust. Here is a list of oils that are the best to cook with, organized by their heat tolerance temperatures.
High Heat Smoke Points:
Avocado Oil - Avocado oil can be a little more expensive than your typical vegetable oil but it’s added benefits and heat tolerance level at 520F make it worth it! Avocado oil contains about 20 different vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It even contains the antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene which are great for eye and skin health.
Sunflower Oil - Sunflower Oil’s heat tolerance is at 450F, making it a great option to use in a stir-fry. It’s high in vitamin E, and just one tablespoon contains 28% of a person’s daily recommended intake of the nutrient. However, sunflower oil contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. The body needs them, but omega-6s are thought to be pro-inflammatory, while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory Consuming too many omega-6s without balancing with omega 3s, could lead to an excess inflammation in the body, so moderation is key.
Sesame Oil - This oil is often used for its potent flavor, so a little goes a long way. Sesame oil contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and naturally contains vitamin E, vitamin B-6, zinc, magnesium, calcium, copper and iron. Sesame oil has a higher smoke point at 450F, making it a great addition for a strong flavored, high-heat recipe.
Medium Heat Smoke Points:
Almond Oil - Almond oil is another cooking oil high in healthy fats and vitamin E, that bring many benefits to your heart, skin, and hair. It’s smoke point is at 420F, making this oil a good option for frying, grilling, roasting, and baking. It’s flavor is subtle, so use at your leisure without the fear of overpowering your dish.
Olive Oil - Olive oil is an extremely versatile and nutritious oil to use in cooking. Like most oils, the least refined and processed the better. Extra-virgin means that it’s higher in quality, and contains loads of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty-acids. With its heat tolerance between 375F - 405F, this oil is best for medium heat cooking, to drizzle on salads, or to add to homemade dressings or sauces.
Coconut Oil - Coconut oil is almost completely saturated fat, but don’t let that scare you! The tropical saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides, which have been shown to actually reduce cholesterol and obesity. It tolerates temperatures up to about 350F, so it’s great for most baking and medium-high heat sauteing.
Low Heat Smoke Points:
Walnut Oil - Walnut oil’s heat tolerance is at 320F, and could bring a great nutty flavor drizzled over a salad or foods after cooking. Walnut oil is rich in antioxidants, promotes good gut bacteria growth, and decreases inflammation due to it’s omega 3/6 ratio.
Flaxseed Oil - Flaxseed oil has a smoke point at a low 225F, so it’s best used for no-heat or extremely low heated recipes. It’s an amazing source of omega 3 fatty acids, and has a strange nutty, funky flavor.
Hemp Oil - Hemp oil is only good for cold applications like salad dressings, dips and smoothies. Hemp oil contains more essential fatty acids than any other nut or seed oil, with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the optimal ratio. This oil is delicate and should be kept in the fridge and used within 3 months.
Cooking Oils to Avoid
The key in eliminating toxins derived from cooking oils is to follow their heat tolerance levels. However, there are a lot of cooking oils that go through an absurd amount of processing that are damaging to your health no matter what heat you cook them at. Refining oils with chemical solvents, neutralizers, stabilizers, bleach and deodorizers is very common for many oils you see at the grocery store. Here is a list of processed cooking oils that are best to avoid.
Canola Oil - Canola oil is an oil extracted from rapeseed plants, that are one of the most genetically engineered plant items in the agricultural industry. Like a lot of modern vegetable-derived oils, canola oil goes through many different processes that involve high temperatures and chemicals. The amounts of processing damage the beneficial nutrients that canola oil originally contained, and is turned into trans fatty-acids.
Cottonseed Oil - Cottonseed oil is a byproduct of the cotton crop that's riddled with pesticides and chemicals because it’s regulated as a textile crop, not a food crop! Cotton farming uses harsh chemicals that are so extreme, that it risks the lives of farmers that apply the chemicals to the crops.
Soybean Oil - Most products that are labeled as “vegetable oil” are made from soybeans. Soybean oil is high in omega 6 fatty-acids, but low in omega 3 fatty-acids. The overabundance of omega 6 fatty-acids increases the risk of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Soybean oil is also a genetically modified plant.
Palm Oil - Palm oil is a saturated fat made from the fruit of oil palm trees, and is in nearly 50% of the packaged products you see in supermarkets. Palm oil is used as an additive because of its many different properties in food products. Palm oil’s saturated fats turn into trans fat, due to the chemical processing that commercial palm oil goes through.