What are the Best and Worst Cooking Oils for You?
Once you've made a commitment to healthier eating, cooking
more of your meals at home and paying attention to healthy
cooking methods becomes important. After all, even the
most nutritious meal can be sabotaged if you fry it or douse
it in trans-fat-laden
Try experimenting with different types and flavors
of oil. One of the best ways to really savor the flavor
is to try the oil on a piece of crusty bread.
The type of oil you choose to cook with can also add or detract
from the nutritional value of your meal. Here we've broken
down some of the most popular cooking oils to clear up the
confusion over which are great, and not-so-great, for cooking.
Vegetable Oils: Included in this category are soybean
oil, canola oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower
oil, corn oil, and others. Although these polyunsaturated
fat are typically described as heart healthy -- they may help
to reduce cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart
disease -- they are often highly processed and are quite perishable.
This means that when you use them to cook with, the fats
easily become rancid, and rancid oil may contribute to oxidative
stress and damaging free radicals in your body. In general,
any highly processed vegetable oil is not the best choice
for a healthy diet.
Sesame Oil: Sesame oil is composed of primarily heart-healthy
monounsaturated fats. Sesame oil is also rich in antioxidants
and very stable, meaning you can heat it to a relatively high
temperature without damaging the oil.
Olive Oil: Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats,
which have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis
and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. However, olive oil is
very perishable, making it an ideal oil for salads, cold dishes
and dipping bread, but not for cooking.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but don't
let that scare you. This incredibly stable oil contains a
type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
MCTs are actually great for your immune system, intestinal
health and even may help to support weight management. And,
because coconut oil is highly stable, it won't become damaged
Avocado Oil: If you're looking for something a little
unusual, avocado oil is a healthy choice. It's rich in monounsaturated
fats (similar to olive oil) but is relatively heat-stable.
Further, when used on salads, avocado oil has been found to
increase your absorption of nutrients such as beta-carotene
making it an ideal base for salad dressings.
A Final Note About Choosing Healthy Cooking Oils
Cooking oils are not created equal, and you will find a wide
variety of qualities, and price ranges, in your grocery store.
Because of the fragile nature of oils, you should look for
varieties with the following properties:
Minimal, gentle processing: Highly processed oils
can become damaged before you even open the bottle. Look
for expeller-pressed or cold-pressed oils to be sure you're
getting high-quality, undamaged oil.
The absolute worst oil you can use is highly processed,
low-quality vegetable oil. It will be devoid of nutrients
and very susceptible to going rancid (and rancid oil
should not be consumed).
Minimal refining: Refined oils have been stripped
of their flavor, color and nutrients. Although they have
a place if you'll be using them for high-temperature cooking
(as they're processed to be made more stable), for other
uses (particularly when flavor and nutrition are important)
seek out unrefined oils.
Stored in a dark, glass bottle: Oil can become
damaged by heat and light, which is why you'll find high-quality
oils stored in dark-tinted bottles. It is also possible
that the oil could leach potentially
dangerous chemicals from a plastic storage bottle,
which is why you should, ideally, seek out those stored
in glass bottles.
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