Basically, some oils are very healthful, while others not so much — and for different reasons. How do you know what’s really important when choosing a cooking oil?
There are 2 main factors that need to be focused on when choosing the oils or fats: healthfulness and temperature-sensitivity (since some oils lose their health benefits when heated). You need to know which oils to use for your salad, and which to use for your frying or baking— and which oils to avoid altogether.
Here are some facts that need to be considered before choosing any cooking oils or fats
– Trans fat can lead to cardiovascular disease, so their presence (i.e: in shortening) is clearly unhealthy.
– Oils high in PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) omega-6 are also not very healthy because it has pro-inflammatory effects.
– Oils high in PUFA omega-3 are very heat-sensitive, so refined varieties are best avoided, as the processing exposes them to very high temperatures.
– All saturated fats are not created equal. Unrefined coconut oil’s SFA (saturated fatty acids) provide cardiovascular benefits.
– MUFA (Monounsaturated fatty acids) are heart-healthy (they increase HDL cholesterol), so their presence in an oil is a health benefit. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat. Hence, a “high-oleic” version of an oil is significantly higher in monounsaturated fats (and thereby also lower in PUFA omega-6).
– As healthful as some oils can be, it’s highly desirable to get a substantial percentage of your dietary fats from whole foods. Avocados, for example, offer much more than monounsaturated fats. They are also a wonderful source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, and fiber — all of which are absent in the extracted oil.
– Whenever possible, purchase organic oils, because many pesticides are fat-soluble, which means they are stored in a plant’s fatty acids.
– When oils are refined, they undergo a variety of chemical processes, including deodorizing, bleaching, and anti-foaming.
– All oils contain a variety of fatty acids. Focus on the prominent ones.
For clearer insight, you can find the comparison of some most commonly used oils & fats in the below table:
|Type of Oils||Origin||Composition||Usage Recommendation||Additional Note|
|Butter||An emulsion of mammal’s milk, salt, flavorings and preservatives.||Contains saturated fats and dietary cholesterol||Baking, cream-sauce making and frying||Butter is not usually recommended as healthy cooking grease, though many people still prefer it due to its flavor.|
|Canola Oil||Derived from a specially cultivated version of rapeseed. Its name is a shortened version of the phrase “Canadian oil, low acid”; the first canola plants were bred in Canada.||Containing 61% of omega-9 oleic acid, 21% of omega-6 LA, 11% of omega-3 ALA, 7% of SFA, 4% Palmitic Acid, 2% Stearic acid & 0.4% trans fat.||Stir-frying and baking||Recognized by the American Dietetics Association and American Heart Association, can lead to lower levels of erucic acid (which was believed to have an adverse affect on the heart). Might contains GMO|
|Coconut Oil||Coconut oil is often called tropical oil and is extracted from the brown meat of a coconut.||Very high in saturated fat content (close to 90%)||Frying, due its high heat tolerance.||This oil remains controversial in the US since consumption of SFA have been linked to high levels of LDL cholesterol but still widely used in regions of South Asia where coconuts are prevalent.|
|Margarine||An umbrella term that can account for an ample range of butter substitutes, and is simply identified as a vegetable or animal-fat extraction.||Typical soft tub margarine contains 10-20% saturated fat. Firmer margarines contain more saturated fat.||Some baking and spreading, such as on toast||Today’s non-hydrogenated margarine is considered healthier than butter because it doesn’t contain trans-fats.|
|Palm Oil||There are 2 types of Palm Oil: Palm Kernel Oil (subtracted from the pit of the fruit) and Palm Oil (extracted from the fruit)||Palm oil has lesser saturated fat content and higher antioxidant levels than Palm kernel oil||Frying||Palm kernel oil is often preferred by manufacturers due its low cost, availability and melting characteristics, though palm oil is considered the healthier—even though research suggests that neither of those is terribly healthy.|
|Peanut Oil||Derived from the same peanuts many people like to snack on||Its major fat content is mostly MUFA aka the “good” fat.||Deep Frying||Peanut oil, popular in Asian cooking, is noted to have the slight aroma of peanuts. Though there are mixed claims about how healthy this oil is.|
|Olive Oil||Extracted from the fruit of the olive tree , olive oil is much-loved for its proven cardio-protective benefits||High content in monounsaturated fatty acid. Extra virgin olive oil is a particularly valuable of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.||Salads and other cold ingredients (extra-virgin); light sautéing or cooking that remains under 320°F or 160°C||Available in many different grades, Preliminary clinical studies provide evidence that consumption of olive oil may lower risk of heart disease risk factors such as lower blood cholesterol levels and reduced LDL cholesterol oxidation,and it may also possibly influence inflammatory, thrombotic, hypertensive and vasodilatory mechanisms.|
|Sesame Oil||Derived from sesame seeds. Light sesame oil has higher smoke point than the darker one (from roasted sesame seeds).||Contains antioxidants & high proportion of PUFA (Omega 6 fatty acid)||Deep frying (for light sesame oil) & stir-frying (for dark sesame oil)||Ongoing research also indicates that the rich presence of antioxidants and PUFA in sesame oil could help control blood pressure|
|Sunflower Oil||Derived from oilseed sunflower seeds—which differ from the non-oilseed or confectionary sunflower seeds used in snacks and baked goods.||Linoleic and high oleic sunflower oils boast impressive levels of vitamin E. It is low in SFA and has high oleic acid content.||High-heat frying, searing and browning||According to USDA.com, this oil meets the criteria for cholesterol-reducing diets|
Other interesting facts about cooking oils can also be seen in this site: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/infographics/ultimate-guide-healthy-cooking-oils-infographic/