Cooking with Oils
There is a lot of confusion about oils; which ones to use and when to use them. Some oils are better for using in cooking than others, some are better eaten raw than others, and some are just generally healthier than others. In general the use of oil should be limited, especially in cooking, however they are a part of our daily diet so I will address my opinions on which ones to use when and which ones not to use at all. The best way to get the health benefits of the oil is to eat the food in its original form, i.e. eat the olive or the nut instead of its oil.
One way to avoid cooking with oil is to steam, or sauté in broth.
All oils have a “smoke point” that is the temperature at which the oil will smoke when heated to. At this point damage has definitely occurred to the oil and it is no longer “healthy”. That is why choosing an oil with a higher smoke point is important in cooking. But here is the bad news. Damage to the oil occurs long before it begins to smoke. Simply heating the oil changes its structure and creates damage.
The damage that occurs to the oil when heated includes a loss of nutrients and phytonutrients, like the fat-soluble vitamin E. Free radicals are formed that wreak havoc causing oxidative reactions and the formation of harmful substances that increase the risk of chronic diseases.
The smoke point of an oil may be increased with processing of the oil. The more highly processed the oil is the higher the smoke point may be. However, the more the oil is processed, the more of its natural health benefits are reduced.
Since I never recommend frying foods in oil I will not even bother recommending an oil to use for high deep fat frying! Cooking that way is already so unhealthy that what oil you use may not even make that much difference!! For sauteing, stir-frying, baking, etc. I recommend good old fashioned butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil. Let's start with olive oil....
Olive Oil – Olive oil is best used raw because it is very fragile and extremely damaged by heat. If you do choose to use olive oil for cooking, don’t use Extra Virgin Olive Oil, choose a more refined version since the refinement process will have raised the smoke point.