A lot of people think that all oils are plain unhealthy, and try to eliminate cooking with them as much as possible. However, this is definitely not the way to go, as your body needs a good dose of the beneficial fats you get in those oils! Ideally, you should cook with oils and fats that have high levels of saturated and monounsaturated fats, as they are stable at high temperatures – and avoid oils with high levels of polyunsaturated fats like the plague! Here are a few fats and oils you should be cooking with.
This is the #1 best choice for high heat cooking. It’s over 90% saturated fat, made up of medium chain triglycerides. This means it does not require bile for digestion, and is easily absorbed by the small intestine. Coconut oil is a great fuel source for the body, and rich in lauric acid which is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.
Ghee is clarified butter, very low in lactose and almost entirely fat (saturated). It’s an excellent choice for browning, sauteeing and with scrambled eggs and omelettes! It’s extremely popular in Indian cooking.
Do not fear proper butter. Just avoid all the processed, fake stuff, like margarine, in your cooking! Real butter is good for you, and contains Vitamins A, E and K2. It’s also rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which may lower body fat percentages in humans, and Butyrate, which fights inflammation and improves gut health. It has a lower smoke point than other oils we recommend, so it’s best for slow cooking, roasting and in stews and so on – no high-heat frying.
You already knew all about how heart-healthy this one is. In fact, people believe it’s the main reason the Mediterranean diet is considered so healthy! It can boost your health biomarkers by raising HDL (good) cholesterol and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol in your bloodstream. It is fairly resistant to heat, but works and tastes best raw, in dressings, as topping, in mayonnaise and so on. Choose Extra Virgin when possible!
Fats you should avoid cooking with:
Now here’s some important information! Nut oils, which delicious, are very high in polyunsaturated fats – which make them a bad choice for cooking. If they’re part of your recipe, leave them out of all frying and high-heat steps. This includes peanut oil! Macadamia nut oil is the sole exception, and can be used for low and medium heat cooking. However, it’s extremely expensive.
Avoid industrial seed and vegetable oils for home cooking. They’re refined and processed within an inch of their lives, and packed with extremely high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids. They aren’t heart-healthy, as has been propagated in the past, and new data links them with many serious diseases. Also, always check nutritional data in the store before buying – they can have up to 5% trans fats, which are toxic. Avoid consuming soybean, corn, cottonseed, canola, rapeseed, sunflower, sesame, grapeseed, safflower and rice bran oil as far as possible! They’re likely to be present in outside or packaged food, but shun them in home cooking.
So there you have it – you’re all up to speed on the best (and worst!) fats and oils for cooking!