As the market is saturated with cooking oil options, choosing an oil for your needs can be daunting. Here’s the scoop!
When choosing a cooking oil, there are a few things to consider:
1. Smoke point: Oils burn and breakdown at certain temperatures, releasing unhealthy free fatty acids. Use more stable fats at higher temperatures.
2. Fatty acid content: If an oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids, it is best to use this particular oil in dressings or as a finishing oil as heart healthy omega 3’s breakdown at high heat.
3. Processing method: Cold pressed oils are high in antioxidants and as the healthy fats are still intact, they should be used at lower temperatures than refined oils. Refined oils have a lighter flavour, colour and odour than unrefined oils.
4. Length of cooking: If you are simply pan-frying an egg quickly, butter is fine, but if you are sauteeing for longer periods of time, combine butter with a refined oil or use a fat with a higher smoke point than butter.
In saying that, the best oils for very high heat cooking such as deep-frying and searing are generally oils that are refined and have a high smoke point above 425F. These oils include peanut oil, refined olive and canola oil, grape seed oil and other refined vegetable oils. As these oils are generally hydrogenated, choose deep-fried foods less often as they may be a source of trans fats.
Oils best used at medium-high heat sauteeing include canola oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and all refined vegetable oils including light olive oil. You can use butter and coconut oil at this heat for short cook times as both of these fats have a smoke point of 350F. You can roast/bake up to 400F with extra virgin olive oil, canola oil and refined coconut oil as well as refined vegetable oils.
Oils best used cold (generally high in Omega 3’s) include flax seed, walnut, hemp seed and wheat germ oil as well unrefined/cold pressed sunflower and pumpkin seed oil. Camelina oil is an amazing locally sourced oil and although high in Omega 3, it is more heat stable as it is a good source of Vitamin E, a potent antioxidant.
If you have any further questions related to the best options for cooking oils or how cooking oils can affect our health, contact me at Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat Well, Halifax!
Nicole Marchand, RD