Cooking Oils 101

Let’s chat about cooking with fats, shall we? But first…let me give you the SKINNY on FAT.

Several years ago, the USDA dietary guidelines recommended that we avoid dietary fat. We now know that that experiment failed miserably, however many of us have clung to those recommendations, which has made us fearful of consuming dietary fat. The problem with “low fat” products is that they are generally made from harmful & highly processed trans fats like vegetable oil, and most of them contain lots of refined sugar. Because of this, during the “fat free” era, health took a rapid decline & we saw an increase in diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer.

Now we know better! Fat will NOT make you fat! In fact, fat has a multitude of health benefits including the following:

  • Fat helps you feel full and satisfied
  • Fats provides building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, & more
  • Pairing fat with your vegetables helps your body to absorb the essential fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) from those veggies
  • Fat helps with the absorption of minerals such as calcium
  • Fat acts as a buffer for carb absorption and our insulin response. Meaning, it creates a mellow response of blood sugar and insulin. When you pair fat with carbs there is no rapid spike in your blood sugar.
  • Fat help to boost your good cholesterol & lower the bad.

 It is not the amount of fat that matters as much as the TYPES of fat you are consuming.

What types of fat should you EAT?

Basically, if you’re eating REAL food, you’re consuming healthy fats. We want to consume naturally occurring fats that can be found in whole foods such as vegetables, olive oils, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, & eggs. Avocados are a fantastic source of healthy fat & high in fiber. There are two broad categories of beneficial fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

What types of fats should you AVOID?

Highly refined or processed fats and oils that are lab created. The fats that are ADDED to our food by the food industry, AKA Trans fat. It is important to read the ingredients, not just the label. If you see “hydrogenated fat” listed in the ingredients, walk away!

Trans fat: Eating foods rich in trans fats increases the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduces the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Now let’s get into cooking with oils & other sources of fat…

Here is a list of cooking oils or products you need to avoid:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Canola
  • Sunflower
  • Grapeseed
  • Sesame
  • Margarine
  • Shortening

Instead, you should use:

  • Organic, grass-fed butter or ghee
  • Coconut Milk
  • Avocado Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • MCT Oil

Let’s chat through some of the most commonly used cooking oils/fats from worst to best in my opinion.

*If you want to scroll on down to the bottom of this post, you can watch my video which covers all of these oils in detail & spares you from having to read through the rest of my blog! 😉 

Vegetable Oils

These types of oils are highly refined, meaning they are produced at high temperatures & using a chemical solvent called hexane, which alters the chemical structure of the product & turns it into trans fat. These oils are the cheapest, they are tasteless, & hold up well at high heat, which is why they are commonly used for cooking. 

Cooking with the healthier options can get expensive, especially when you are using a large amount of oil. So, if you need to save money by using a refined oil, use expeller pressed.

My best advice….throw them out!

Corn Oil

Corn oil for example, is a highly refined vegetable oil. In the production of this oil, most of the vitamins and minerals are lost. It is made from GMOS. It is also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are good if they are coming from whole foods such as nuts or seeds, but should be avoided in refined oils and unprocessed foods. Too much omega-6 can cause inflammation.

Now we are getting to the good stuff..

Coconut Oil

Pros: Coconut oil is high in lauric acid which is converted into a monoglyceride, therefore it can help lower your bad cholesterol.

Coconut oil has a smoke point around 350 degrees F, which means it can be used for high heat cooking.

When choosing a coconut oil,  chose a virgin, unrefined, organic coconut oil. The term virgin or unrefined means that it is generally unprocessed, unbleached or deodorized. 

Con: unrefined coconut oil does have a mild coconut flavor.

Ghee or Grassfed Butter

Organic, Grass Fed butter is another good option. Irish butters have more butter fat and less water, so I use “Kerrygold”.

Ghee takes it a step further. It is considered dairy free. The process of making ghee removes the lactose & proteins, leaving you with pure butterfat. It has an extremely long shelf life & a smoke point of 450 degrees F. It can easily be made at home to save money.

Olive Oil

Pros: Olive oil is made up mostly of monounsaturated fat, which helps to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol).

Olive oil has a smoke point around 320 degrees F.

It is tasteless.

When choosing an olive oil, choose Organic, Coldpressed, Extra Virgin, which means there are more nutrients & it is less refined.

Cons: Olive oil is a little less stable at high heat, but I still use it for cooking. It is best when used raw (example: salad dressing). It is expensive.

Avocado Oil

This is my favorite cooking oil!

Pros: Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat. They known for their anti-inflammatory properties & aid in the prevention of heart disease. They also help lower your blood pressure.

It is similar to olive oil in that it is tasteless.

It has a smoke point of 520 degrees F, therefore it is a great oil to use at high temps.

Cons: it is expensive.

Now you know what to look for the next time you go grocery shopping! Go ahead & look through your kitchen & ditch the unhealthy oils! 

Check out my recent video on cooking oils here:

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