There are bad fats and there are good fats, just as there are bad oils and good oils. How do we know which oils are best for baking, frying, sautéing or dressing?
Toss the bad fats/oils:
- Blended vegetable oils
- Old oils
- Vegetable shortenings
- Chemically extracted oils
- Oils high in polyunsaturated
The good fats/oils:
The good fats are those high in heart-healthy monounsaturated and other important nutrients such as oleic acids and omega3 fatty acids. But you can’t use these healthy oils for every purpose. Choosing the right healthy oil depends on its smoke point. The higher the oils smoke point, the better it is for high heated cooking.
- For dressing: Extra-virgin olive oil
- For sautéing: Virgin olive oil or safflower oil.
- For high-heat cooking: Light olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil or sunflower oil.
- For splurging: Oils high in monounsaturated fats are macadamia, hazelnut, hemp and almond oil. Walnut oil and flaxseed oil are both high in polyunsaturated fats but they contain omega3.
Banish undercover fats:
Unhealthy fats can also be found in crackers, gravy mixes, cake and pancake mixes and other packaged foods. These also contain other unhealthy ingredients like artificial colors, MSG, refined sugars and excess sodium.
Toss anything that contains partially hydrogenated oils or conventionally processed oils.
- Monounsaturated fats: Go for it. These are healthy and rich in antioxidants like vitamin E; they can increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and also reduces inflammation.
- Polyunsaturated fats: Proceed with caution. These fats come from plants. They can also improve your HDL-to-LDL levels; they are high in omega6 which needs to be balanced with omega3.
- Saturated fats: Avoid. Saturated fats are found in butter and lard and work well with cooking, but these clog your arteries and boost the risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats come from animals; these tend to boost both good HDL and bad LDL levels, but overall it has a negative effect on your health.
- Trans fats: Avoid. These are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil changing it from a liquid to a solid like margarine. These lower HDL levels and raise LDL levels.
- Expeller pressed: A chemical-free mechanical process that extracts oil from nuts and seeds.
- Cold-pressed: These are oils that are expeller pressed in a heat-controlled environment to preserve their flavor, aroma and nutrients.
- Refined oils: These oils have been filtered until they are transparent, making them good for high-heat cooking.
- Unrefined oils: These contain solids making them cloudier but give them more flavors. They are not suitable for high-heat cooking.
How to store oils:
They should be stored in a cool dark place. Most oils have a limited shelf life, check your oils production date and do not keep them for longer than 12 months.
Toss your unhealthy oils and use more healthy oils when preparing your food. Your overall health will benefit from it.