The oils and fats you should and shouldn’t be cooking with…
Fat. It’s sustaining to the body, satisfying to the mouth. In cooking with fat we prevent sticking, and our food becomes moist and tender.
FAT IS IMPORTANT TO FLAVOR AND FUNCTION
Fat is a controversial topic of health and I am here to bring clarity. In order for fat to be our friend we need to make sure we are using fat in the applications they are chemically meant for. To keep it simple, fats become damaged and turned into free radicals four different ways: oxidation, pressure, light, and heat. Free radicals are unpaired “free” electrons that damage our cells. You can read more about the science behind this here. Bigger picture, free radicals are responsible for degrading of organ systems which lead to chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. In the case of the heart damaging fats severely harm the blood vessels causing them to become torn. Our bodies use cholesterol and fibrin, and red blood cells to repair the damages but this makes the vessels less flexible as the new tissue is essentially a scab. Damages over time can result in high blood pressure, strokes, and other heart issues.
To avoid damaging our fats we first need to choose the right kinds. You always want to choose oils that read “expeller pressed”, “extra virgin” or in the case of coconut “virgin”. This means that they have been cold pressed. If the product does not read this then more than likely the oil has been extracted by method of chemicals and high heat. Again the heat damages the oil’s chemical structure and who wants chemicals in their oil. EW! You should also be familiar with the word “smoke point.” Visually when an oil is smoking, you know that it has become oxidized and you should NEVER consume smoking oil! You also want to select an oil that is in a dark container to reduce exposure to light. I opt for glass to avoid toxins from plastic. Exception: I’ve never seen coconut oil sold in a dark container. Keep your oils in a dark, dry, and cool place in your kitchen NOT NEXT TO THE STOVE. You should also keep oils sealed to avoid exposure to oxygen. Think along the lines of what an apple looks like after it is cut an exposed to air.
Which oils are the healthiest?
My three favorite are organic extra virgin olive oil, expeller pressed avocado oil, and organic virgin coconut oil.
OLIVE OIL- Should only be used in cold preparations. Heating olive oil damages the chemical bonds and causes free radicals. Olive oil has a delicious delicate flavor that is enjoyable in salad dressings, finishing foods, pestos, hummus, and other dips. Olive oil is also high in omega 6 anti-inflammatory fatty acids! 🙂
AVOCADO OIL- THE HEALTHIEST COOKING OIL. It can withstand very high heat before becoming oxidized and turning into free radicals. It has a very neutral flavor that will not come through in the food. Use in all cooking preparations, to marinade, in dressings, etc. To get you started try this sweet potato yam fries recipe!
- 2 organic sweet potato yams (pictured are garnet yams)
- avocado oil ( just enough to coat)
- Himalayan sea salt
- Black pepper
- Rosemary (fresh or dried, optional but delicious!)
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Line glass pans or baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper. Clean and cut the yams into fries. Combine the yams with the remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat evenly. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast 30-40 minutes flipping at about the 20 minute mark.
COCONUT OIL- Is delicious, buttery, and antimicrobial. The lauric acid in coconut oil nourishes our tissues to create an antimicrobial effect. In this way it is great used in food, body care, and personal products! Coconut oil may be heated although not as high as avocado oil. Its best use is probably in baking applications and especially as a butter substitute. It is also delicious when melted gently and added to some cacao powder, maple syrup and sea salt for a chocolate syrup drizzle. 🙂 You can also use coconut oil in place of lotion and when making homemade beauty products! Lastly, swish coconut oil around in your mouth in place of mouthwash to cleanse your mouth of bacteria! Could it get any easier?
ORGANIC GRASS FED GHEE and BUTTER- Personally I avoid dairy. But if you prefer dairy, these are two options to cook with safely. Ghee especially is suitable for higher heats such as for sauteing. Butter is great for baking and for basting when roasting. Buying grass fed ensures a healthier omega 3 to omega 6 ratio as well as far more vitamins and minerals.
OILS YOU SHOULD NEVER COOK WITH
Besides olive oil, other vegetable oils including sunflower, flax oil, sesame, and safflower should never be heated. And in my opinion canola oil should never be used. In my nutrition course we learned that canola oil has actually shown to cause heart lesions, yikes! Additionally any sort of hydrogenated vegetable oil should never be consumed. Hydrogenation turns a liquid vegetable oil into a solid fat by means of adding metals, blasting with hydrogen under extreme pressure, deodorizing, and bleaching. MMM yummy right? The end product is now a trans fat or in other words free radicals. To nerd out one last time on you, the body has no use for trans fat because what happens is it gets confused about whether it is a saturated fat or unsaturated fat and puts it in all the wrong places, damaging your cell walls and body.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and took something away. If you have any questions or comments drop those below!