WHAT OILS TO USE AND WHY
There are many options of oils to choose from however, choosing the healthiest can be difficult. Oils can easily become rancid (destroyed) due to heating them above their smoke point. The smoke point refers to the temperature at which the oil breaks down and turns to smoke. At this point the flavour and nutritional quality of the food is harmed. Oils vary in different smoke point temperatures, the higher the smoke point, the higher the temperature at which you can cook the oil.
Rancid oils form harmful free radicals in the body. These damage the DNA which can lead to cancer development, tissue degeneration and can accelerate ageing. Rancid oils can also cause digestive distress and deplete the body of vitamin E and B vitamins.
Vegetable oils such as corn oil, cotton seed oil, soybean oil, canola oil and safflower oil are already rancid before they even leave the shelf. These oils have been hydrogenated/refined and deodorised so that the rancidity is masked. Avoid these ones!
Coconut oil is a great oil to cook with as it has a higher amount of saturated fat and thus a higher smoke point. Butter also has a higher smoke point which makes it great for baking. Both of these oils can withstand temperatures of around 180 degrees Celsius. Avocado oil is another one that can withstand high heat with a smoke point of 200 degrees Celsius.
Sesame seed oil and peanut oil have high smoke points making them fine to cook with. However, they do have a distinct flavour restricting they types of dishes that they can be used in. Peanut oil can withstand 230 and sesame seed oil 210 degrees Celsius. Extra virgin olive oil is also okay but has a lower smoke point at 160-180 degrees Celsius.
Flaxseed is a very nutritious oil. It’s high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and provides a good ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. However, it turns rancid very easily making it better consumed cold and not to be cooked with at all. It’s also best to be kept in the fridge. I like to get my omega fats from cod liver oil, oily fish and pastured animal products, this way I know the omega ratio is balanced and the fats are not rancid.
When choosing oils it’s very important to buy ones that are unrefined and cold pressed. These will allow the oil to be in its natural form and its nutritional properties will stay in tact. Oils that have been refined are heated at high temperatures and become rancid before they even reach the bottle.
Old fashioned ghee and lard are also a great choices for frying and baking (do make sure they come from pastured animals though). They have a smoke point of around 200-250 degrees Celsius. Again, this is due to the high amount of saturated fat, which is important to include in our diet.
It’s best to store your oils in an airtight container and in a dark, cool place in your pantry. This goes for nuts and seeds also.
To get an idea of the temperature of your stove top, here is a general guide;
Low= 93 degrees Celsius
Medium= 150 degrees Celsius
High= 200 degrees Celsius
Highest= 260 degrees Celsius