Which oil is best for cooking?
This is one of the most common questions I am asked. It is confusing as there are so many to choose between in the supermarkets, and the information in not always clear. It doesn’t help that fat in general has been vilified for so many years, and that a ‘low-fat’ diet has been the official recommendation.
Why does it matter which fat I choose for cooking?
The reason why this matter is that you are going to heat it up, and some fats are more stable than others. When a fat becomes unstable, it changes its molecular structure and turns into potentially dangerous compounds that may become dangerous for your body.
It is the smoke point together with the composition of a fat that determines if it is suitable for cooking
One of the important things you want to consider is the fat's smoke point. When a fat is heated up and start to burn and produce smoke, it is past its smoke point and will start to break down.
Another important point to consider is how the fat is structured, as this decides how it behaves when heated up. Fats are made up of different types of fatty acids; saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The various fats we use contain these fatty acids in different ratios, for example coconut oil contains mostly saturated fat and olive oil mostly monounsaturated fat.
So, when it comes to choosing the right oil, it is the combination of these two points that matter.
Cutting a long explanation short, this is what is recommended for cooking …
In addition, avoid margarine altogether as it contains a compound called trans fat, which may increase you risk for cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes type 2.
Remember that fats are important to our health, and they should make up around 20-35% of our daily calorie intake. BUT we need to consume them with a bit of information.
I hope this helps. Keep well!
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