There are so many types of oils out there. Some are better for health than others. In this article I want to help you understand which oils are best and how to use them.
First of all, where do oils come from?
Oils come from nuts and seeds. Those nuts and seeds are crushed and sometimes heated to extract all of the oils out.
Are some oils bad for you?
Some oils do contain high amounts of trans fats. This is a specific type of fat that does not occur naturally in food. Trans fats are formed when oils are chemically altered using a process called hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life (never spoils) and it increases the oil's resistance to high heat cooking. These are vegetable oils and are often sold in bulk. They are fairly thin and clear fluid. Trans fats are connected to heart disease and other chronic disease. Some common names you see of these are canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and palm oil.
Vegetable oils are commonly used in high heat cooking and deep fat frying. They are convenient to use in fast food services because they are cheap, stuff fries well in them, and they don't spoil. You may want to rethink getting those french fries next time!
Margarine is also one more that you want to generally avoid. This is more solid at room temperature, but it contains high amounts of trans fats.
What oils are good for you?
There are several oils that contain high amounts of mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fats. These types of fats can actually help PREVENT heart disease and preserve your health. Some oils that are especially high in these are extra virgin olive oil. The high mono and poly-unsaturated fat content means that it is not ideal for being used for frying because they will burn at very high temperatures.
Some oils contain some special types of fats as well. For example, coconut oil contains higher saturated fats, but they are a form called medium chain triglycerides. I will save you the headache and just tell you that your body likes these better treats them better than saturated fat that comes from animal products.
Flax seed oil also contains higher levels of Omega-3 fats, which are super good for heart health.
When should I use each oil?
As you have already seen a little bit, some these oils are little sensitive to heat, so that can help you determine which oils are good to use. Here are some tips for each oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is great to use for low to medium heat cooking on the stove top or in grilling marinades. It can also be used for salad dressings and any type of dip. It provides a lot of delicious flavors and health benefits. This is one of the top oils I recommend for regular use in your kitchen. Make sure to only buy extra virgin olive oil. If you by just "olive oil" or "virgin olive oil" it contains less actual olive oil in it and contains a mix of other vegetable oils to help it withstand higher heat temperatures and last longer without spoiling. Extra virgin olive oil actually is more versatile than most people think and resists fairly high temperatures. If you are willing to let your food cook a little slower at a slightly lower temperature, this oil can be your top oil of choice.
Coconut oil is good for low heat cooking as it can burn easily. Use it in a marinade or cooking eggs in the morning or for other low-heat cooking on the stove top. If you are into smoothies for meals, a tablespoon of coconut oil can help add to the flavor of your shake and make it a little more filling.
Flax seed oil is very sensitive to heat, so it should not be used for cooking. This oil is ideal for salad dressings and cold recipes.
Which oils do we recommend?
The tops 2 oils we recommend to keep in your kitchen are extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil. These oils are usually the best quality and provide good health benefits, while giving you a little diversity for cooking options. Other oils can be less quality or just really expensive because they are less common.
Another type of fat you can use is organic butter. Now, I say this with caution because I don't want you to get the idea that you can cover everything in butter. But a small dose of butter can help you with baking and high-heat cooking needs. It's not wrong to have butter, but it does contain saturated fats that you do not want to make up a high percentage of your cooking.