A couple of days ago, I was sitting at my dining table drinking my morning coffee (with almond/coconut milk and stevia, of course!) and I started making a grocery list for the week when that got me thinking about cooking oils.
There have been a few times recently when I have gone to a friend’s house for dinner, and I notice that their pantry is filled with the worst cooking oils and sprays. I immediately know that I am in for a night of bloat and you won't want to catch me in a swimsuit later!
Most people don't realize that many cooking oils on the shelves seem healthy because of labeling but can cause some serious inflammation in our bodies that can contribute to food allergies/intolerances, bloating, inability to lose weight, eczema, leaky gut, or an autoimmune disorder.
I personally get an extremely bloated belly right away from canola and soybean oil which are both labeled as vegetable oil. The name alone "vegetable oil" makes it sound healthy, right?
Next time you are shopping at the grocery store, check out the labels on the back of major hummus brands. You can often find one or both of these oils in store-bought hummus. When I think about delicious hummus, I think of healthy Mediterranean foods like olive oil, chickpeas, tahini, and fresh lemon juice...not unhealthy inflammation-causing canola oil.
Why do food companies use unhealthy cooking oils in their food products?
Because ultra-processed cooking oils are cheap and it can help bring their production costs down. They are not necessarily looking out for our health.
This just goes to show you that these inflammatory oils are in so many of our foods on the shelves today and they are also in most of the meals we eat at restaurants. So when it comes to cooking our own food, it's important to have the right kind of oils in our pantry to give us some balance and reduce inflammation.
The worst cooking oils that you should be avoiding:
You are probably wondering what makes these oils inflammatory, right?
One of the top questions I get from clients…. “is canola oil healthy?” The short answer is no and there are many other oils that fall into the unhealthy category. We could go down a crazy rabbit hole of information here as this is such a complex subject but I'm going to try and simplify this as much as possible.
Well, low-quality refined oils such as canola, soybean, corn, and many others are highly processed and extracted by very high heat and pressure which destroys their antioxidants and alters the chemical nature of the fat. This creates dangerous free radicals which can cause cellular damage (hello, cancer) and disease in the body - no thank you!
They are then cleaned with chemicals such as hexane which is a byproduct of gasoline production. Then it is bleached to remove color and neutralized to remove the strong odor from the rancid oil - yuck!
Lastly, dangerous preservatives, BHA and BHT are often added to extend the shelf life of the oils. These two preservatives are actually found in many foods on our shelves today and have been known to cause tumors and cancer during animal testing.
On a separate note over 90% of canola and soybean oil are genetically modified. Let's not even go there.
It's basically all the ingredients needed for a perfect inflammatory cocktail - I will not be cheersing to that one!
Save this healthy cooking oil chart for later!
So what are the healthiest cooking oils?
There are several great options out there now that more and more people are opening their eyes to a healthier lifestyle. You can find most of these oils at the local grocery store as well as Target, Costco and even Walmart!
What you want to look for in a quality oil is that the processing is very minimal and the oil was not heated so it still has all its healthy properties intact - look for the words "cold-pressed" and "unrefined". Also, buy organic when possible to avoid GMOs.
You also want to make sure the oil has a higher smoke point for your preferred cooking method. A smoke point is the temperature that causes an oil to begin to burn or smoke. When the oil burns or smokes it breaks down the healthy properties of the oil and oxidizes the fat which causes free radicals which in turn causes what was once a very healthy oil to now become just as bad as the lower quality oils like canola and soybean oil.
So let's get to it! I like to keep things simple in my kitchen. I have listed my 4 favorite healthy cooking oils below as well as their smoke point so you can use that as a guide on how they should be used when sauteeing, baking, frying, or making a salad dressing.
4 Healthy Cooking Oils You Should Be Using In The Kitchen
Avocado Oil (cold-pressed, extra virgin, naturally refined, organic) - We love this brand by Chosen Foods but there are so many great brands out there. Avocado oil is the best oil for frying because of its ability to maintain its healthy properties when cooking at high heat temperatures. It can be cooked or sauteed at high heat of 500 degrees F. Great for all cooking baking, sauteing, frying, and salad dressings.
Benefits: Avocado consists mostly of oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Oleic acid may help to reduce joint inflammation, it is heart-healthy and can increase HDL (good cholesterol), and it can protect from harmful free radicals that cause cellular damage. It also contains lutein which is a carotenoid that can improve eye health and reduces the risk of cataracts and other age-related eye diseases.
Coconut Oil (cold-pressed, unrefined, virgin, organic) - My favorite brands are Kelapo and Nutiva. Can be cooked or sauteed at medium-high heat up to about 350 degrees F. Great for baking, sauteing, and as a topping in place of butter.
Benefits: Coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) which are digested much quicker than any other fats, they are absorbed directly in the liver. The MCTs provide sustainable energy throughout the day and promote weight loss by helping to increase metabolism. Studies have also shown that supplementing with coconut oil daily can increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce belly fat!
Ghee (grass-fed, organic) - I also love Kelapo brand of Ghee as well as their 50/50 Ghee/Coconut oil blend. Pure Ghee can be cooked or sauteed at a high heat of 485 degrees F. Perfect for baking, sauteing, and as a topping in place of butter.
Benefits: Ghee is clarified butter which means the milk solids have been removed which means the lactose and casein have also been removed - making it great for most of us with lactose intolerance who miss butter. It provides fat-soluble Vitamins A, K, & E which support immune health, as well as strong teeth and bones. It contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which may reduce body fat as well as reduce inflammation.
Olive Oil (extra virgin, cold-pressed, organic) - We use the Costco Kirkland brand of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Should be used at low heat ranging from 310-340 degrees F. Great low heat sauteing, in dips, or in homemade salad dressing.
Benefits: Extra Virgin Olive oil contains an antioxidant called polyphenols that can help reduce inflammation, fight free radicals that cause cellular damage, reduces aging, improves brain health, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Like avocado oil it also contains oleic acid may help to reduce joint inflammation, it is heart-healthy and can increase HDL (good cholesterol), and it can protect from harmful free radicals.
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