Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Which is a Good Cooking Oil?

Do you sometimes wonder which cooking oil is best? Olive oil? Coconut oil? Canola oil? Sunflower oil? I did some research and this is what I found.
Cooking oil is fat and can be from plant or animal.

Types of cooking oil include:

- Ghee

- Olive oil

- Palm oil

- Soybean oil

- Canola oil

- Pumpkin seed oil

- Corn oil

- Sunflower oil

- Safflower oil

- Grape seed oil

- Peanut oil

- Sesame oil

First understanding the different kinds of fats

Oils differ from one another and are categorized by their degree of "saturation."

Generally saturated fats has heart health risks, which generally come from animal sources. Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils are the 3 plant-based exceptions to this rule, and should generally be avoided.

1. Monounsaturated oils are liquid at room temperature but cloud and thicken when chilled - Olive, canola, peanut and hazelnut oils, safflower and sunflower oils.

Consuming monounsaturated oils seems to reduce total blood cholesterol and the "bad" (low density lipoproteins [LDL]) cholesterol levels without affecting the "good" (high density lipoproteins [HDL]) cholesterol levels.

Olive oil and canola oil have been recommended as the safest sources of fat in a heart-healthy diet.

2. Polyunsaturated oils – regular safflower and sunflower, walnut, corn and soybean oils, remain liquid whether in or out of the refrigerator. Sesame oil contains approximately half monounsaturated and half polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated oils are healthy because they too reduce total cholesterol and LDL, but they also decrease HDL's positive effects.

Polyunsaturated oils are chemically unstable, especially when exposed to heat and can change in content that contribute to cancer and other chronic diseases. Notice, there is more smoke with these kinds of oils especially sesame oil.

Have you noticed that some advertisements boasts an oil containing no cholesterol. It is true because vegetable oils contain no cholesterol as only animals have cholesterol.

Cooking with oil

Heating an oil changes its characteristics.

The cooking oil we choose depends on the cooking method.

Polyunsaturated oils - degrade easily to toxic compounds when heated. Prolonged consumption of burnt oils can lead to inflammatory joint disease, and development of birth defects.

Saturated fats – such as palm oil and coconut oil can withstand the high heat of deep frying and is resistant to oxidation compared to highly unsaturated vegetable oils. It remains stable in deep frying or in baking at very high temperatures.

Never fry at high heats with corn oil, it's notorious for foaming and smoking.

So, which oil is healthy?

There is no real answer because the fat content between the oils differ and they have their different characteristics. All cooking oils are 100 percent fat and thus the best way is to use oils is with thought and sparingly.

Canola oil is lowest in the saturated fat that clogs our arteries, while olive oil is highest in monounsaturates.

The dietary difference in cooking oils lies in the proportions each contains of the three basic types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Regardless of the type of oil, we should used no more than 10 percent of total calories intake.  Try reading this book for more information on cooking oils.

Happy Cooking and Teaching!


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