August 3, 2015
330 Healthy Cooking Oils [3 August 2015]
I know, grammatically it should be “healthful cooking oils”, that is oils that promote health when consumed, not oils that are feeling pretty good themselves. But “healthful” is such a mouthful that this is one grammatical error that I hope will become accepted in the English language. By the way, if you are interested in the history of the English language take a look at my other blog “The English Cowpath”.
Healthy cooking oil is a very controversial topic – every website has a different opinion – to which I can’t do justice in one article. There are four factors to consider in evaluating the health value of cooking oils: smoke point, oxidative stability, nutrient content, and omega 6 content.
1) Smoke point is the temperature at which the oil starts to smoke, producing toxic byproducts and an unpleasant taste (note: if the oil in your pan starts to smoke, discard it, clean the pan, and start over). Oils with high smoke points are needed for pan frying and deep frying, for example: avocado, camelina, and virgin olive. Coconut, extra virgin olive, and macadamia oils have moderately high smoke points and could be used for low temperature sautéing. Oils with a low smoke point like flaxseed should only be consumed raw as a salad oil or in a smoothie.
2) Oxidative stability is actually more important than smoke point for determining the healthfulness of cooking oils. Oils begin to combine with oxygen to form toxic compounds at temperatures well below the smoke point. Camelina, an otherwise very healthy oil with a high smoke point, scores low on this scale, as do all polyunsaturated oils. Highly saturated fats like coconut oil are more stable. One that shows great promise is red palm olein whose promoters claim has both a high smoke point and the highest oxidative stability of any cooking oil. Red palm olein also has a very high content of vitamin E (tocotrienols) and vitamin A (carotenes).
3) Nutrient content is not as big an issue for cooking oils, as you should be consuming the more nutritious oils raw.
4) The Omega 6 content is important if you are consuming a significant amount of fried foods. To achieve the ideal 4:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 oils, you must avoid oils with a very high 6:3 ratio like corn, safflower and grapeseed; use oils with moderately high ratios like avocado sparingly; and use raw oils high in Omega 3s like flax and camelina (or supplement with omega 3 fish oils).
What you need to know about eating oils, Samantha Sutherland, Feb. 2013, MBG
Making Sense of Healthy Cooking Oils & Fats, Irene Macri, Jan. 2014, Eat Drink Paleo - well researched, lists smoking points
What oil should you be cooking with? Joseph Mercola, Oct. 2003
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.