Cooking Oil: A Household Ingredient That You Should Not Take for Granted
Cooking oil is one of the most common culinary ingredients you’ll find in American homes. It’s used in countless dishes, but what exactly does it do?
The main purpose of using cooking oil is to quickly transfer heat to the food that’s being cooked. This is why frying is usually quicker than other cooking methods, such as boiling or roasting. Cooking oil has good tolerance against high temperatures, which means it doesn’t boil or break down right away.
In addition, cooking oil can provide additional flavor, depending on what it’s made of, and bring out the fat-soluble nutrients in the other ingredients. When used in baking, it can help with moisture retention, as well as tenderizing and leavening the ingredients. Despite these advantages, the main issue with cooking oil (especially vegetable oil) is that when it is heated, it releases trans fat, free radicals and toxins that can leach into your food and wreak havoc on your health.
Why You Should Avoid Vegetable Oils Like the Plague
Vegetable oils are one of the unhealthiest oils you can consume. They are rich in trans fat, which is a synthetic fatty acid that inhibits your body’s production of prostacyclin, a factor that keeps your blood flowing smoothly. If your body cannot produce enough prostacyclin, blood clots can form in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Aside from endangering your cardiovascular health, trans fat may even impair your memory. According to a study published in Time, participants who consumed high levels of trans fat remembered 11 fewer words compared to those who consumed lower levels.
Much of the reason why vegetable oils contain trans fat is because they are hydrogenated, a process wherein hydrogen gas is forced into the oil at a high pressure during manufacturing. Companies use this method to extend the shelf life of their products, but at the cost of people’s health.
Furthermore, vegetable oils produce oxidized cholesterol when heated, increasing thromboxane formation, a factor that clots your blood, as well as two toxins: cyclic aldehydes and acrylamide. In light of all this information, which vegetable oils should you avoid? I’ve put together a list of vegetable oils that can endanger your health:
- Soybean oil: This contains plenty of highly processed omega-6 fats. When you use it to cook food, the increased levels of omega-6 can lead to chronic inflammation.
- Corn oil: Similar to soybean oil, corn oil has extremely high amounts of omega-6 compared to omega-3. In fact, the ratio is estimated to be around 49:1. Ideally, the ratio should be 1:1 only.
- Cottonseed oil: It’s estimated that 93 percent of cotton in the U.S. is genetically engineered. Consuming oil made from these cotton plants can have an adverse effect on your health in the long run.
- Canola oil: You may have seen plenty of advertisements that present canola oil as a safe and healthy cooking ingredient. Unfortunately, this is not true, as canola oil can introduce oxidized cholesterol into your body when consumed.
Instead of Vegetable Oils, These Are the Healthiest Cooking Oils You Can Use
With the prevalence of hydrogenated cooking oils in the market, what options are you left with? Fortunately, there are many healthy alternatives available, and they are easy to acquire:
- Olive oil: This oil contains healthy fatty acids that can help lower your risk of heart disease. In addition, it may help lower the risk of breast cancer in women.
- Grass-fed butter: Raw, organic butter made from healthy grass-fed cows’ milk contains many nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E and K2. Furthermore, it contains various minerals and antioxidants that can help support your health.
- Peanut oil: This oil contains high levels of omega-6 similar to other vegetable oils, but it can be beneficial to your health (it is high in antioxidants) as long as you consume it unheated and in moderation.
- Sesame oil: Similar to peanut oil, sesame oil is high in omega-6. However, if consumed unheated and in small amounts, it may benefit your health, especially if you are diabetic.
- Coconut oil: This is what I believe is the best cooking oil you can use for your dietary needs. It has various health benefits, which I will discuss below.
Cooking With Coconut Oil: One of the Best Oils You Can Use
Coconut oil has been getting plenty of attention lately, and rightfully so. I believe it’s one of the best things you can add to your diet because it can help optimize your health in ways you may have never experienced before. In fact, I use it exclusively whenever I cook, and I wholeheartedly believe that you should, as well. Take a look at the amazing benefits it can provide:
- Cardiovascular Health
Coconut oil may have a positive effect on your heart health. Researchers discovered that consuming it can help improve your good cholesterol levels, while simultaneously lowering bad cholesterol levels. As a result, your risk of heart disease decreases.
- Energy Boost
Coconut oil can be a great source of healthy energy, thanks to its medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). When consumed, the MCFAs are immediately digested and converted by your liver into energy that you can immediately use.
- Weight Management
Aside from giving you an energy boost, coconut oil simultaneously stimulates your metabolism to encourage shedding body fat, thus helping you maintain a healthy weight profile.
- Antimicrobial Properties
The compounds of coconut oil can help keep your internal organs free from microbes. According to a mice study, subjects who were fed coconut oil had a significant reduction in candida albicans, a yeast strain that causes candidiasis, or more commonly known as yeast infection.
- Oral Health
Coconut oil can be used for oil pulling, a hygienic practice that uses oil to rinse your mouth. Its antimicrobial properties help “pull” out and eliminate bacteria and viruses that live in your mouth, along with food debris stuck between your teeth.
Try These Healthy and Delicious Recipes That Use Coconut Oil
The great thing about coconut oil is that it can be used in a variety of cooking methods. It has a mild flavor that helps bring out the natural flavors of other ingredients. I encourage you to try the following recipes so you can taste the difference.
Mom’s Best Fried Chicken Recipe
Salmon Supreme Recipe
Healthy Quinoa Pie Recipe
Note: Do not burn or char your meats and avoid eating the black portions.
*Note: If Old Bay Seasoning is not available, another seafood seasoning would be fine, or a combination of celery salt, dried mustard, black pepper and a small amount of the following: ground bay leaves, ground cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon and paprika.