Know which cooking oil to reach for
Do you whip up delicious meals without measuring a single thing? The oil you use in your kitchen can make or break your otherwise wonderful dish. Did you know that some oils are harmful?
Did you know that fried chicken or french fries often use "hydrogenated" oils, which increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, obesity and cancer? Some "partially hydrogenated" oils are even derived from soybean oil, discussed below. What's in your kitchen?
Here are the good
Look for oils high in monounsaturated fats. These include:
Olive oil. Excellent source of antioxidants, polyphenols and essential fatty acids. It supports cardiovascular health and blood pressure.
Coconut oil. I'm referring to the unheated, unrefined, virgin coconut oil, which is healthy raw, or baked -- don't use super high heat. Please avoid "hydrogenated coconut oil," which is man-made and contains trans fats.
Almond. A source of natural vitamin E, it has even less saturated fat than olive oil. Almond contains monounsaturated fat (like olive oil). Almond oil goes rancid easily, so store it in a dark cabinet.
High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These are healthier choices, too:
Hemp. Unrefined, this oil has a good amount of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is considered a healthy omega 6 that may relieve PMS and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Flax. A fragile oil that shouldn't be heated. It's good to make salad dressings with. Refrigerate the oil. Too much may be goitrogenic (suppress iodine absorption) so avoid consuming high-dose supplements for extended periods of time. A little oil on your salad should be fine, though.
Tea seed. This is one of my favorite oils because you can use it at high temperatures, the flavor is mild and it contains antioxidants like vitamin E. It has both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Do not confuse tea seed oil with the essential oil of "tea tree," which cannot be ingested.
Use with caution
These oils are high in saturated fats or trans fats:
Canola (Rapeseed). Some of you think this is a "healthy" oil because it is very low in saturated fat and like olive oil, it's high in monounsaturated fat. However, hexane is used as a chemical solvent to extract canola oil from the seeds, and pesticides are sometimes used. Bleaching too. It's used for baking or stir-fry.
Margarine. This is a man-made chemical, do I need to say anything else?
These oils are high in Omega 6, which can increase inflammation:
Corn. It's hard to find a non-GMO version of this, unless it specifically says "organic." Also, it may be bleached. Corn oil increases "oxidized" or bad cholesterol. Cooks (not me) recommend it for high heat.
Soybean. This is another oil that's heavily refined and often genetically modified (GMO). Soy plants are somewhat toxic to humans – you didn't know? Soybean oil, soybean milk and tofu contain a lectin called PHG, short for phytohemagglutinin. PHG may interfere with digestion, affect memory and make your blood cells stick together (like clot). People use soybean oil for stir-frying because of the high smoke point. Read your supplement bottles because soybean oil is used in many dietary supplements.