Cooking Oils – What do I purchase?

There are so many to choose from now day’s, and it gets so confusing with what to purchase.
Rice oil, Sunflower oil, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Canola oil, Linseed oil… the list goes on.  Heat this one, don’t heat that one, only have this with that, don’t use that, have more of this one… Arrggh!

Don’ t worry,  I am going to attempt to decipher through the marketing bullshit and give you some simplistic sound advice to follow, so here we go.

Olive Oil

So you see terms like extra virgin, cold pressed, virgin oil, and pure olive oil on the label, but have no idea what they mean. Organic, Cold Pressed, Extra Virgin, is what you want to look for on a label.  And you want it to be in a dark coloured glass bottle.

Here’s the why

Extra Virgin means the oil has been gathered from the first crushing of the olives.  It is the initial unrefined oil, very rich in taste, and has up to four times more free oleic acids as other grades which is really good and really healthy.

If you see ‘Virgin Oil’ on the label this means it has been through the pressing process once, this can also be referred to as first-pressed oil.

‘Pure Olive Oil’ means the olives have been continuously put through the pressing process until every ounce of oil has be extracted from the olive.

Cold Pressed means the crushing of the olives was done with no heat, it ensures the quality of the oil is high, as heat pressed olives damages the quality of the oil, and promotes the oil to go rancid pretty quick.

Olive oil is very subject to environment factors such as heat, air and light.  Purchasing in glass containers is best as metal and plastic can leach and affect the quality of the oil.  The best place to store your olive oil is in a cool dark place.

When cooking with olive oil, don’t allow the oil to smoke, as soon as it’s heated to this point the oil becomes unstable and changes and is no longer a healthy oil to cook with.  Because it has a high mono and poly unsaturated fat content under heat it forms lipid peroxides which is a rancid by-product of the oil, this changes the chemical structure of the oil, turning it into an unhealthy oil to use.  Due to this, the heat point is low at 320F compared to other oils.  So sautéed your veggies don’t fry them.  And remember olive oil is beautiful as a vinaigrette and or to pour over steamed veggies – it’s my favourite oil and what I use all the time.  The beautiful high contents of  monounsaturated fats, within olive oil, certainly help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, I think a good bottle of olive oil is like liquid gold in a bottle!

Coconut oil  

Not all are created equal

When purchasing coconut oil only purchase Virgin coconut oil, as it is extracted from the fruit of fresh mature coconuts, without using high temperatures or chemicals, is considered unrefined and generally benefits your health.

If you see the words ‘partially hydrogenated coconut oil’, then avoid it, as it is just as harmful as other highly processed oils containing trans fat which wreak havoc on your health.

The second type of coconut oil to avoid is, ‘refined coconut oil’, this is extracted from chemically bleached and deodorised coconut meat.

Avoid any packaged or manufactured foods that contain partially hydrogenated coconut oil. When cooking, choose only virgin coconut oil and use it in moderation, as with all cooking oils.

More on coconut oil

Coconut oil is a saturated fat, this makes it stable cooking oil, however, the saturated fat is different to that of an animal saturated fat in that the fatty chains are shorter in length.  This means the shorter chain fatty acid is processed differently by our bodies, in that it is harder for our bodies to convert short-chain fatty acids into stored fat, so they generally get sent to the liver and burnt off as energy.   Some research suggests this promote weight loss by burning calories and lowering cholesterol.

Other oils

Avoid cooking with Sunflower, Soy and Corn oil as they are generally a Trans-fatty acid and are high in Omega 6 which is a fatty acid that feeds into inflammatory pathways within the body.

Flaxseed oils are rich in Omega 3 however this is easily damaged by heat so best keep adding it to those smoothies or  have as a salad dressing.

Like everything, consume in moderation and remember key words to look for when purchasing good oil:

Organic, Extra-Virgin, Cold Pressed

I hope this was helpful and sheds some light on the oil front.

Me xx

Mobile Naturopath – Maree