We are often mislead about what oils are healthy for us, we assume because something is ‘made from’ or ‘made with’ something, that equates to it being good for us. Unfortunately this is a common misconception, for example we are encouraged to eat sunflower seeds as they are rich in nutrients, however sunflower oil is far from healthy. The process to achieve a food product is what we really need to consider especially cooking oils.
In the 1950’s vegetable oils were became largely popular, however the name itself is misleading as most of these oils are derived from seeds. The way the oils are extracted from the seeds can either be using chemical solvents such as hexane, (hexane is a significant constituent of gasoline, so we have to consider the effects of any residue entering our bodies) or through an oil mill process. Some of the oils then go through a refining process where they can be chemically altered at a cell level, changing its structural composition.
How you are going to be using these oils is another thing to consider, as they all have different smoke points. When an oil reaches its smoke point, this means it has reached a temperature where it has now began to oxidise and the cells begin to break down. When this happens we lose the beneficial nutrients, the cells becomes highly reactive & sensitive to its environment. This can then result in damaging the cells causing them to release toxins into our body.
Polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids are different molecular compound structures. While the main consensus is to steer away from saturated foods, a saturated fatty acid cell is actually the most stable, it is straight in shape and forms tighter links. When additional compounds are added to the structure, this makes the molecular cell more susceptible to become reactive and change its composition.
Our bodies contain polyunsaturated fatty acids so to increase those levels through the foods and substances we use to cook our foods in, can cause other cells in our body to become reactive, and in result cause health issues such as inflammation. So we always encourage using the most natural foods to fuel our bodies that have undergone the least amount of processing and refining treatments.
Unrefined Avocado oil with a smoke point of around 250°C, can be used in most heat settings, including high heats such as grilling, frying, also great for salad dressings! (should be a green colour, if it is more yellowish try to avoid as it may have been processed)
Pure Ghee has a smoke point of 250°C great for most cooking, frying, sautéing, grilling and baking.
Coconut Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, both with a smoke point of 180°C are recommended to be used in medium heat settings, in particular when oven baking for recipes of 180°C.
Beef Tallow (meat dripping) has a smoke point of 210°C. It’s molecular composition is made up of 50% saturated fat, 42% monounsaturated fat and only 4% polyunsaturated fat. Can be used in high heat settings, and can also provide a crust texture when used on roasting vegetables!
If possible its best to avoid using Canola, Soybean and Flaxseed oils, especially for cooking, they still possess some nutritional value but they are highly sensitive to heat and produce harmful compounds.
*Disclaimer – Recommendations only, not to be used as professional medical advice. Please consult a health professional to seek professional help.