The scoop on cooking oils – which one to use when?

Written by Kajsa IngelssonSeptember 7, 2018

Not long ago fats and thereby oils where shamed and hushed aside, instead favoring light-products and margarine. Lucky, times have changed yet again and more and more people understand the importance of incorporating healthy fats into their diet.

But how do we know what oils are really healthy? Knowing that we rarely can trust the food-industries labeling, I put on my research hat and figured it all out for you 🙂  Let’s break it down once for all; what oils should you stay clear off vs. actually be using in your kitchen?

Let’s start with the bad guys to avoid;

Vegetable oils

Ok, so you have probably seen the words vegetable oil on oh so many labels. Vegetable oils are oils that have been extracted from various seeds. The most common include rapeseed (canola oil), soybean, corn, sunflower, cottonseed, safflower, peanut, etc. Unlike coconut oil or olive oil that can be extracted by pressing, these new-fangled oils have to be extracted in very unnatural ways.

They are used in many packaged products, which is why it’s so important to know their dangers. Many of these seeds are genetically modified (a debatably healthy process). Not only that, but they are also heavily refined, which means that it’s partially hydrogenated—using heat and chemicals to increase its level of stability to use in food manufacturing.

This is problematic for heart health as partially hydrogenated oils like canola are known for causing high levels of inflammation and calcification of arteries, which studies have shown are risk factors for coronary heart disease. Not only that, but you will find a wide variety of different toxic chemicals in these oils, so stay clear of these bad boys!

Two other ones worth mentioning in the bad boy category are butter and palm oil. While they do not possess the same immediate danger to your health as the ones listed above, they are not sustainable for our planet. And if you think about it, what’s bad for the planet is bad for us, since this is our only home and we want to keep her clean and green, right? 🙂

Ok ok, so what should we be using then?

When it comes to high heat cooking, coconut oil is your best choice.

Over 90% of the fatty acids in it are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. This oil is semi-solid at room temperature and it can last for months and years without going rancid. Coconut oil also has powerful health benefits. It is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens.

The fats in coconut oil can also boost metabolism slightly and increase feelings of fullness compared to other fats.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is well known for its heart healthy effects and is believed to be a key reason for the health benefits of the mediterranean diet. It can raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and lower the amount of oxidized LDL cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream.

You can use olive oil for cooking but I’d recommend going for coconut oil if you are going to be working with high temperatures.

Make sure to choose quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It has much more nutrients and antioxidants than the refined type. Plus it tastes much better. Keep your olive oil in a cool, dry, dark place, to prevent it from going rancid.

Avocado Oil

The composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It’s high in lutein, which is a key antioxidant for eye health. It also neutralizes free radicals in the body.

It can be used for many of the same purposes as olive oil. You can cook with it on medium-low temperatures, or use it cold.

I hope this post helped you to gain a more clear picture on what oils to use for your optimal health and for the wellbeing of our one planet 🙂