Is Your Cooking Fat or Oil Toxic?
Did you know that healthy cooking fats and oils can actually become toxic depending on how you purchase, store and use them? However, with mindful storage and cooking knowledge, you can avoid the potentially dangerous side effects from these healthy and beloved fat sources.
Purchase and Storage
When purchasing oils, “less is more.” You see, over time, oxygen, light, and heat can cause degradation to taste and quality. Therefore, those extra large bottles of oil might be better in the “price per ounce” category, but, unless all of the oil is used within the year time frame, it is likely to end up oxidized and rancid. To reduce oxidative damage, only purchase enough oil that you know you will use within a year. Some olive oils have a shelf life of only 6 months. To avoid further oxidation, store oils in a cool, dark and dry place. Bottles with green or amber hues can also help protect the oils from light damage.
How Oils Can Lead to Cancer
Each oil has its own unique composition and nutritional qualities– one of which is its smoke point. In other words, oils have specific temperatures at which they begin to degrade under heat. You might be asking, well, why should I care about an oils smoke point? Well, when an oil goes outside of its safe temperature zone, there are compounds called lipid oxidation products (LOPs) that form. These compounds can lead to physical aging of the skin, heart attack and stroke, and even cancer. Not to get into the nitty gritty science details, but basically, LPOs attack cells and DNA in our body, that in turn, can oxidize healthy cholesterol, impair collagen production, and even lead to cancer. So, in order to reduce free radical damage and toxic dangers, it is crucial to use oils based on their individual compositions for their intended use and to not heat them beyond their smoke point.
So now you might be wondering, what oils or fats should I buy, when and how should I use them, and at what temperature do they become toxic. Luckily, we’ve outlined certain fats and oils to avoid, and which ones are our favorites and why.
Oils to Avoid
Before we get into the cooking fats and oils we love, we wanted to list the ones that are probably best left on the grocery store shelves. It is best to avoid Soybean, Vegetable, Corn, Canola, Rice Bran, Sunflower, Safflower, Soybean, and Peanut oils, as well as Fake Butter Substitutes, Shortening, and Margarine. Unfortunately, these fats are often times genetically modified, highly processed, higher in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, and contain poor unsaturated fats that make them more susceptible to oxidation, and thus, rancidity. Therefore, you will want to limit your consumption of these fats and oils, or better yet, avoid them altogether.
A Few of our Favorite Fats and Oils
Now, on to a few of our favorites. Obviously, there are other healthy fats and oils than just the ones listed below, but these are the ones that you will find us using most often in our kitchens and recipes due to their versatility and nutritional qualities.
- Why we love it: avocado oil is high in vitamin E, contains monounsaturated heart healthy fats and highly stable for high-heat cooking
- How to use it: searing, sautéing, grilling, roasting, deep-frying,cooking, baking, salad dressings, as a finishing oil
- Smoke point= 520°F
- Why we love it: coconut oil is largely composed of saturated fatty acids, making it highly high-heat stable, and resistant to oxidation; coconut oil contains fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) that are easily converted into energy, making it an efficient fuel source
- How to use it: lightly sautéing, cooking, baking
- Smoke point= 350°F (Unrefined)/450°F (Refined)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Why we love it: extra virgin olive oil tastes down right delicious and has a plethora of health benefits
- How to use it: salad dressings, as a finishing oil; due to its low smoke point, should only be heated at very low temperatures
- Smoke Point: 320°F (Unrefined)
- Why we love it: I mean, who doesn’t love butter… butter from grass-fed cows contains Linoleic Acid and Butyrate that help fight inflammation and potentially reduce body fat
- How to use it: light sautéing, sauces, cooking, baking, blended into coffee
- Smoke Point: 350°F
- Why we love it: ghee, also known as clarified butter, is stable under high heat; since ghee is made when the milk solids are removed from butter, it is easier for people with dairy or lactose sensitivities to digest
- How to use it: sauteing, frying, roasting, cooking, baking, blended into coffee
- Smoke point: 480°F
Toasted Nut and Seed Oils (Walnut, Sesame)
- Why we love it: toasted nut and seed oils offer flavor and variety to meals; however, most nut oils should not be heated because their polyunsaturated fats make them vulnerable to oxidation under heat, except for refined sesame oil, which we love for stir-frying
- How to use it: salad dressing, as a finishing oil
- Smoke Point: Walnut Oil= 320°F (Unrefined); Sesame Oil= 350°F (Unrefined); 410°F (Refined)
When in doubt…
When in doubt, use the oils smoke point as a guide… if you notice that the oil is producing a thick smoke during the cooking process, there is a good chance that it is not meant to be cooked at that high of a temperature.
We found this Healthy Cooking Oils Guide at Root and Revel and wanted to share it with ya’ll!