And what is not?
When it comes to oil there are some that you want to use for cooking and some you do not want to heat up.
My clients are often confused to hear that I don’t suggest cooking with olive oil. Now that is not because I don’t like olive oil, it is because I like it a lot actually. I like it so much that I think it is a shame to heat it up in the pan.
So what is the story about oil?
Oil is fat, which is often confused with “being bad” but there is a difference between fats and some are great healthy fats that you do want.
You might have heard about trans fats. They are the bad ones. They are unsaturated fats that are created artificially. They are also known as hydrogenated oil, which is an industrial process of adding hydrogen to the oil, making it more solid and longer lasting – which also means the food can keep for longer on the shelf. Oil helps preserve food and helps it taste better too, but a good oil would make products more expensive, and unfortunately for many products in the mass market, profit comes before health (sorry for bashing). However, lasting longer is also what makes it harder for your body and digestive system to break down. You can learn a lot more about the digestive system and how it affects your overall health in the online program.
Trans fats cause not only digestive issues, but they are also the kind of fats that clog the arteries, causing high cholesterol and heart disease.
The good news is that trans fats were banned from use in restaurants back in 2006 in NY State and many other states, but it is still found in packaged foods, such as cookies, frosting, packaged pies, pizza, frozen foods, and coffee creamers. The FDA is working towards a complete ban but we are not there yet. What YOU can do to avoid these fats is: read the label and make sure there are no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils listed, and choose whole and real foods, over processed and packaged fried food.
What oil to have in your kitchen?
Canola oil has long been promoted as the healthy cooking oil. Canola is from a plant, but it is genetically engineered based on the rapeseed plant. Rapeseed is from the mustard family and widely used in Europe for cooking oil. Rapeseed oil has been found to be toxic in very large amounts, so it is not used in the US, granted the Europeans are still alive so chances are it would not hurt us in everyday cooking, but it still means it is not available in the US. I bring rapeseed oil with me back from Europe, but I don’t use canola oil.
Soybean oil is widely used in commercial cooking, but here we are also looking at highly engineered GMO crops.
For your overall health; for cooking purposes I suggest going with oil that takes a higher temperature like coconut oil, un-toasted sesame oil, avocado or nut oils. Olive oil can of course be used but then choose an inexpensive one that is for cooking purposes. The smoke point is however lower than other oils; around 350 degrees.
Other options are safflower oil and grape seed oil, which can go to a higher smoke point as well. If your oil starts smoking you are heating it too high and it actually becomes carcinogenic. The smoke point is around 450 degrees on these other oils.
Some prefer cooking with butter. If you do, please use butter from free-ranging and grazing cows. It is better for both you and the cows.
The oils to not heat up that are great for adding taste:
As a topping for your veggies or for mixing legumes or grain salads use a really good and yummy olive oil to add taste to your food. This is where you want to buy that virgin and cold pressed olive oil. Other great tasting oils, that you use after the cooking (heating) is done, are: hemp, flax and pumpkin seed oil as well as the nut oils. These are all oils that you just want to add before serving, as they are pure goodness on your food. The best kind of condiment.