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Everything About Cooking Oils, Explained!

Stick and Ladle

You know, it’s never enough that you know how to cook delicious meals. You gotta take into consideration what cooking oil to use too. Yes, you read it right! You can reap more health benefits by being mindful of the cooking oil you’re using for each of your recipes...trust me... otherwise you’re putting your health at risk! Read on to find out what factors to consider when choosing cooking oils, and how the oils should be used.

Smoke Point And Your Cooking Method 

This is also known as the “burning point of an oil” -- the point when the oil becomes unstable. You will know when you’ve reached this point when your pan starts to uh..well, smoke! When oil starts to smoke, it releases cancer-causing radicals which can cause Alzheimer’s disease too. All oils will eventually smoke, but they have different temperature threshold based on their composition;. By knowing the smoke point or temperature threshold of the oil, you can determine the ideal cooking method you can do so as not to go beyond that threshold and preserve the health value of your meals...on the other hand, you can also choose what ideal oil to use given you have a cooking method you wanna try out. 

Cooking Oil Storage

Second factor is how you store cooking oil...and... for how long. You need to know that cooking oils have different shelf lives. For example the ever popular olive oil oxidizes faster than coconut oil. To be sure your oil doesn’t turn rancid, keep it away from heat. Don’t put it near the stove or above the oven..and be sure to keep it in a container with a cap on. You will know when the oil has gone bad if it has a metallic, bitter, or soapy smell. 

Some Of The Most Popular Cooking Oils

Nutrition Facts: All the oils listed here have 14 grams of fat and about 120 calories per tablespoon, but their health benefits vary quite a bit.

Olive Oil

You probably know this oil already since this is one of the most widely used oils worldwide. Known for its fruity versatile flavor, and is a staple of mediterranean diet, this cooking oil is perfect for adding an extra pop of flavor to almost every kind of dish including desserts. What’s more! Not only dishes, you can also use olive oil to add a bit of that sultry flavor to a cocktail to smooth out the strong taste of alcohol. One common misconception is you can’t saute with olive oil, but… you can! You just need to do it over a low to medium heat. 

Smoke point: 320°F

Ideal for: Roasting and sauteing over low to medium heat, desserts, salad dressings, and cocktails.

Health benefits: High in polyphenols which significantly reduce your risk of cancer like colon cancer for example. Olive oil is also high in oleic acid, a fatty acid that is proven to lower your risk of heart attacks.

Avocado Oil

This cooking oil has a higher smoke point compared to other oils making it ideal for any cooking method that involves high temperature or heat..such as stir frying. Avocado oil also has a neutral taste which makes it perfect for making homemade mayonnaise, marinades, and salad dressings. If you don’t have vegetable oil, this is a perfect alternative.

Smoke Point: 520°F

Ideal for:  Frying, sauteing, roasting, and searing...those  methods that involve cooking dishes over high heat. You can also use it for salad dressings and cold dishes.

Health benefits: Avocado oil improves your body’s ability to absorb healthy antioxidants such as carotenoids when you use it to cook your meals. Just like olive oil, it’s also rich in oleic acid.

Coconut Oil

Unlike most vegetable oils, coconut oil has solid consistency at room temperatures making it a poor choice for cold dishes and salad dressings. On the other hand, it has a low smoke point compared to other oils high in saturated fats making it bad for high heat frying as well. 

The advantages of coconut oil is it’s relatively cheap compared to other oils and it can be reused without holding on to flavors. Overall, this oil is a good medium-heat option for you.

Smoke Point: 350°F

Ideal for: Baking as a dairy substitute, sauteing, or roasting at medium temperatures.

Health benefits: Rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which speeds up your metabolism, and can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Keen in mind though that coconut oil is a form of saturated fat.

Refined Vegetable Oils

These are canola, safflower, sunflower and soybean oils that are widely used in restaurants because of their high smoke point, cheap price, long shelf-life and neutral taste. Compared to pressed oil, these oils are extracted through synthetic chemical extraction methods. Even though these oils are ideal for high-heat sauteing and deep-frying, many health-conscious cooks prefer to stay away from these oils because they are highly processed oils and they aren’t healthy.

Smoke Point: 400°F to 450°F depending on the exact blend of oils used.

Ideal for: Frying and other high-heat cooking methods.

Health Benefits: Overall, refined oils are not a healthy option for you. It’s also rich in Omega-6 fatty acids which increases your risk of heart disease.

Sesame Seed Oil

This is a much healthier vegetable oil compared to the ones mentioned above. Typical sesame oil has a neutral flavor but there are toasted ones as well which has a nutty flavor, and a stronger aroma. The toasted sesame oil is suited for Asian dishes and are usually eaten as a condiment in order to preserve the flavor profile. 

Smoke Point: 410°F

Ideal for: roasting, frying, grilling, and sauteing. Perfect for Asian-dishes.

Health Benefits: High in Vitamins K and E which helps reduce blood pressure. Also rich in healthy fatty acid that’s good for the heart.

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