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Healthy Fats Part III – Which Oils Are The Best to Cook With?

8178014_sThis post continues with our discussion of good versus bad fats.  Last time we debunked the myth that all fats are bad and explored how the body needs healthy fats like Omega-3s for its survival.

For instance some of the best sources of healthy fats are whole foods like cold water fish, nuts, seeds and avocado.  We have also examined why some fats like Trans fats and refined vegetable oils are the least healthy.  So what oils are safe to heat and fry with?  Which oils should you eat raw on salads?

Healthiest Oils for Cooking

Why do we need to be concerned about which oils to cook with?

That is because every oil has a unique smoking point, and to keep its healthy properties, you ideally want to cook with it below this temperature.  Let’s look at olive oil as an example.  Olive oil is available in many grades: cold-pressed extra virgin, virgin and plain olive oil.  Extra virgin olive oil is the first press of the olives and is best suited for eating raw on salads, antipasto and a delicious pairing with balsamic vinegar with fresh Italian bread.  It can be heated to low heats only, a maximum of 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  As mentioned in our olive oil blog, Virgin olive oil is more stable when heated and is suitable for high heat or frying (up to a maximum of 350 degrees Fahrenheit).

For higher heating, it is better to use a more stable oil, such as coconut oil.  Coconut oil is very stable at high heat.   It is a mono-unsaturated oil and is solid at room temperature.  It has been consumed in Asian and South Asian countries for thousands of years.  Some of these countries have shown to have very low heart disease rates, perhaps due to the heart protective effects of this oil.  Coconut oil has regained its popularity in recent years as a healthy oil to include in the diet.  It is a great oil to use in baking as a substitute for butter or unhealthy shortening.

Other oils that are safe to heat are: grapeseed oil, safflower oil, walnut oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil.

Make Your Own Salad Dressing

One of the biggest culprits of unhealthy fats is salad dressing.  Commercial salad dressing is often made with the cheapest of vegetable and soya oils for long shelf life.  That is why some of the higher quality salad dressings need to be refrigerated and you can find them in the produce section.  For healthier fat dressings, look for olive oil as a base, which you know by now is high in the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Here is a previous post on my favorite salad dressing recipe that I use every week on all types of salad:  Homemade Maple Balsamic Dressing.  By making your own salad dressings, you will be cutting out unhealthy oils and ensure that you get a healthy dose of good fats.  Hopefully you are an expert now on which fats to avoid and which ones should go in your grocery cart.

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Until next time,




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