The basis of much of the cooking we do is rooted in oils. There are many differing types of oils and fats with a huge variety of both positive and negative properties. We have gathered information on what the healthiest oils for cooking are and why this is the case. Here is the breakdown.
1) Olive Oil - Olive oil lives near the top of the healthy tree when it comes to oils we use for cooking. A well balanced mono-unsaturated oil, olive oil can aid in the reduced risk of heart disease by not creating high levels of something called ‘Aldehydes’. These are toxic compounds in a fat or oil that are produced as a result of heating it to a high temperature, resulting in oxidation. The result of this oxidation are the aldehydes themselves which have been linked with increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
2) Sunflower & Corn Oil - Sunflower and corn oil are primarily made up of polyunsaturated oils, which until very recently were often described as some of the healthier types of oil. Now new studies suggest that when using these oils to fry at high temperature, we see a much higher level of volatile Aldehydes being created than in olive oil and even fats high in saturates such as lard.
3) Coconut Oil – This kind of oil is the product of raw coconuts and can be widely purchased in health stores and supermarkets for use in cooking and as a beauty product. High in saturated fat, until recently, coconut oil could have been classed as unhealthy due to the association of certain saturated fats with heart disease. Now, scientists are saying that not all saturated fats have the same negative properties when ingested. As all saturated fats do, coconut oil does increase cholesterol, but mainly a beneficial kind called HDL. Coconut oil can also withstand higher temperatures in cooking and therefore does not contain as many toxic Aldehydes. The biggest con to cooking with coconut oil is in fact the high calorie content.
4) Animal Fats - Surprisingly, animal product fats such as Goose Fat, Lard and Butter still contain less Aldehydes when heated to a high temperature. For this reason, they may well be less harmful than sunflower and corn oil when being used for frying. They are however all high in saturates which have an association with heart disease and weight gain.