Every culture uses oil to cook, but is the type of oil and method of cooking boosting your health or eroding your health?

The type of oil matters to your health

Oils are composed of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 essential fatty acids, as well as other non-essential fatty acids.  Fats are wonderful essential building blocks for every cell in your body, and particularly for your brain and central nervous system.  Your body ALSO needs these fatty acids to be in the proper ratio for good health.

Almost all light-colored neutral oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids.  Omega-6 fatty acids are needed to maintain cell wall integrity and provide energy for the heart, but TOO MUCH Omega-6 fatty acids in the diet can increase inflammation in the body, hence the need for balance.  

Many cultures use too much of these oils, which contributes to the problem of inflammation in the body. 

 

Oils with higher Omega-3 fatty acids, like olive oil, promote healthy cells and decrease stroke and heart attack risk, and are known for their anti-inflammatory action.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also very sensitive to heat (low smoke point) making them tricky to use in cooking.

It takes 7 years to replace every cell in your body, and every cell requires fatty acids.  If you start using healthy oils today, as well as consume healthy fat foods, you will literally improve the quality and function of every cell in your body!

 Every oil has a smoke point

The smoke point of a fat is the temperature where the heated fat begins to breakdown and degrade – technically called oxidation.  That smoking action is followed by an acrid smell and an unpleasant bitter flavor, which creates toxic fumes and harmful free radicals.  If you catch your hot pan before it smokes more than a few seconds, you will probably be just fine.  However, once your oil or fat sits at its smoke point for more than a few seconds, your healthy oil is destroyed, and it is time to start over with fresh oil.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire—or cancer-causing agents.  Besides having a bad taste and reduced nutritional value, smoking oil will dump toxic free radicals into your system and trigger inflammation, which is the starting point for many chronic diseases.

Choosing oils for Health Cushion

For me cooking is first about nourishment and health, then taste.  My mindsets of maximizing nutrition and minimizing toxins are the foundation of cooking for nourishment.

REMEMBER: TOXINS LOVE ATTACHING TO FAT!

Choose the cleanest high-fat content foods you can afford

Follow these guidelines when shopping for cooking oils:

  1. Choose the healthiest oils you can afford
  2. Choose the least processed oils, which are organic, unrefined, cold-pressed and virgin
  3. Organic oils that are NOT cold-pressed or virgin may also contain toxins from the processing
  4. Stay away from oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, and genetically modified (canola, safflower, corn, sunflower, mustard, etc.)

Top oils for cooking to nourish

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • low smoke point
  • use in salad dressings, drizzle on cooked foods like pasta or vegetables, ok for some very low heat, short cook time foods

Virgin Coconut Oil

  • medium smoke point
  • use in baking, stir-frying, cooking eggs

Avocado Oil

  • Unrefined – medium smoke point
  • Refined - high smoke point
  • Drizzle on foods, use on roasted meat and vegetables, baking, stir-frying

Guide for cooking to nourish

  1. Use as little oil as you can possibly get away with.  If you don’t use it much, it’s worth paying a little more for a higher quality oil
  2. Use your oils that have smoke points that fit the cooking method you are using
  3. Always cook with the least amount of heat as possible to prevent destruction of nutrients and fragile fats
  4. When the climate is hot, store oil in the refrigerator to make it last and prevent it from going rancid (Where I have lived, my oils were stored in my refrigerator for more than half the year!)
  5. You can keep a small amount of your oils out for daily use in their liquid form