Fat seems to be all the rage these days. From keto to Adkins, everyone is loading up on fat. While most experts are beginning to agree that saturated fats do not live up the harmful reputation they once had, many people are still confused about which fats are best to cook with. When you cook with oils, you want to make sure that they maintain their health properties when they are heated. This is not always the case, so it is important to be informed about which oils do not break down and become damaging when you cook with them.
Saturated fats tend to be the most stable at high heat. These fats are less easily damaged by light and heat, so the more readily maintain their health benefits at high temperatures. Organic virgin coconut oil has become the gold standard for cooking. If you like coconut flavor, choose unrefined. If you want a more neutral flavor, choose refined. Either way, coconut oil has amazing health properties that we have written about in previous articles and is a really stable oil when used for cooking. Make sure to choose a hexane free brand. You can search your favorite brand online to make sure. Hexane is a petroleum product used to extract the oil from coconuts and can be present in even organic brands. Make sure you check your brand specifically.
Ghee (clarified butter) is another great cooking oil. Ghee is also relatively allergy friendly even for those with dairy sensitivity as it does not contain milk solids, only butterfat. Make sure if you are choosing ghee, you are choosing it from a grass fed source the CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) content is significantly higher which improves the health benefit as well.
Cacao butter (yes, from chocolate) and lard are also good fats to cook with. I don’t typically recommend using lard as it can be challenging to find a pure source, and rendering it yourself is a bit of a process. If you choose to occasionally use lard, make sure that you ONLY buy it from a local farm that is a pasture raising, non gmo farm. Toxins can concentrate in the fat, so the health of the animal really matters.
SECOND Best Category
Monounsaturated fats are best for low heat cooking or for using raw in dishes like salad dressings. Olive oil is the best known and most widely used oil in this category. Olive oil has come under a great deal of scrutiny over the past few years as many of the major brands (including organic) were found to have a mixture of other oils in them. If you are going to use olive oil, purchase from an olive oil store that can discuss the sourcing, purity, and extraction methods with you. It is important to choose cold pressed olive oil that is packaged in a dark colored bottle to prevent damage. Nut (except peanut as peanuts are not a nut) and avocado oils are also great for low heat cooking or for drizzling on salads or veggies after they have been cooked. These oils begin to oxidize when they reach smoke point, so just cook carefully if you use them in your dishes. When I use olive oil in cooking, I am more attentive to keep the heat down.
NEVER EVER Category
Refined oils such as corn, canola, cottonseed, and soy are no longer recommended as safe oils for consumption. Along with the findings on the health benefits of saturated fats came the realization that these processed oils are inflammatory inside of the body and can contribute to instead of prevent health conditions. These oils are extracted using chemicals like hexane and are treated with deodorants and bleaches as well, so it is just best to stay away from them.
I am so thankful that our society is truly understanding the role of fats and oils in our overall health! Understanding the specifics is important to fully carrying out the mission of creating a healthier body. Take charge of your health one day at a time! Feel free to forward Heart In Motion articles to friends and family. Together, we can create a healthier world!
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Take some time this week to look through the oils you may have in your cabinet. Throw away all of the inflammatory oils immediately. There is no value in using them until they are finished. If you are unsure about your coconut and olive oils, do some research on your favorite brands, but go ahead and finish them before you buy anything different.