No, but seriously…what oil am I meant to be using and for what?
I hear you, there is a lot of conflicting information out there with as many untrustworthy sources as there are trustworthy, so who do you believe?
Well I can hardly claim to be all-knowing but I hope that by the end of this post you’ll be armed with enough relevant information to make your own choices and enough science to help you to understand why you might make those choices.
Disclaimer: These are my opinions…but I’ll explain why I think them.
The key to the right cooking oil is choosing one that doesn’t change its structure during the cooking process. The problem is that it’s far too easy for us to change that structure without even knowing that we have. When we cook with these oils and use them at high temperatures, the healthy fats that they consist of, turn into nasty, toxic by-products that we should not be eating. We purchase one we believe to be ‘good’, Extra Virgin Olive Oil for example, but we inadvertently turn it into a ‘bad’ one by over heating it.
I thought Extra Virgin Olive Oil was good, now I’m confused?!
Let me explain; this does not mean Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not good for us, it means that high heat changes it and once changed, it does more harm to us than good.
So which are the best oils and fats to cook with?
Coconut Oil – It remains stable, not losing its structure, even at high temperatures so I’d certainly recommend having coconut oil as your go-to cooking choice.
It’s solid at ‘British winter’ room temperature so don’t be alarmed; you will need to dig that delicious white stuff out with a spoon!
Some people don’t like using it because they say they can taste it when they’ve cooked with it but I don’t think I can and if I can, well it seems I like the taste.
Coconut oil is so versatile, you can use it for baking, delicious raw snacks, as moisturiser, hair masks, it directly fuels our brains, helps fight Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, it’s antimicrobial… the uses and advantages are endless. Oh, and it’s suitable for vegans!
Buying Tip: Initially, it seems expensive so I suggest buying in bulk. The bigger the jar, the cheaper it is usually (do some research – or ask me). It also lasts for a really long time, unopened, in a cool dry cupboard so you can never buy too much when it’s good value.
Buying Tip: If you have a big supermarket, one that has that aisle…‘world foods’…you know the one. Well, you’ll most likely find that the same jar of coconut oil or at least a jar of equal volume (maybe a different brand) is at least a pound or two cheaper down the ‘world foods’ aisle!!
Grass Fed Ghee – Also known as clarified butter; it’s butter that has been heated to remove all milk solids and impurities, which also makes it suitable for anyone with dairy intolerance.
Ghee is what they’ve always cooked with in those fancy restaurants (probably still do) and it’s the only thing they cook with in India. Although butter is not necessarily bad for you, ghee has many health benefits and is definitely the better option for cooking.
Ghee is packed full of fat-soluble vitamins, helps with weight management, is free from lactose and casein, has been found to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure, not to mention it promotes a good healthy gut.
Buying Tip: Buy it online to ensure that it is specifically grass fed ghee. I’m yet to find it in my supermarket but do let me know if you have. It’s better to buy grass fed because the benefits I listed above are all greatly improved when derived from grass fed cattle compared to grain fed cattle…and shouldn’t our cows be out grazing anyway, since when did they evolve to harvest their own grain?!
Gone are the days when butter was the proverbial anti-Christ of food stuffs!
If you’re not sold on cooking with coconut oil and grass fed ghee, here are a few other options for you:
Macadamia Nut Oil
Olive Oil – NOT Extra Virgin or Virgin
Eating oils are rather overlooked in certain parts of the world, the UK being one of them, yet they are a great way to get the healthy fats that our bodies so vitally need to function efficiently. It might surprise you to know that our brains are 60% fat…what better way to ensure their smooth running than to replenish and fuel them with good ol’ healthy fats?!
It might surprise you to know that our brains are 60% fat
So, which are the best oils and fats to eat straight up?
Coconut Oil – see above for eating recommendations
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – check out @wellwellcarrie for the incredible benefits of EVOO
Walnut/Hazelnut/Almond/Macadamia nut Oil
Flaxseed/Hemp Seed Oil
MCT Oil – comes from coconut oil and is a particularly useful fatty acid
For a long while now we’ve known that the Mediterranean diet serves those actually living by and adhering to it very well. You’ll therefore be unsurprised to learn that one of its biggest components is EVOO and that over in those Mediterranean climes they don’t just drizzle the stuff, they pour it!
NOT ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL
I have recently started to do as they do in the Med and it’s revolutionised my meals. Not only has it been keeping me fuller for longer (because of all that healthy fat) but it also goes with almost everything as a kind of sauce. Go ahead and try it, you’ll be shocked. Honestly, EVOO drizzled over scrambled eggs with some sea salt and pepper…delicious!
Jaw dropping nugget for you: EVOO contains a plant compound called Oleocanthal. Oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory effects so powerful, that it’s comparable to taking a small dose of Ibuprofen. So put that Ibuprofen to the back of the medicine cabinet and start getting involved with EVOO everyday!
The other oils all add subtle flavours to every kind of dish imaginable so there really is no excuse. Start using them.
What to look for when you’re standing there about to make your choices:
Now that you’ve decided which of the above oils you would like to test out, you need to choose your brand when you’re standing in the supermarket aisle (ordering Ghee online). You’ll most likely find that it comes down to price and/or accessibility. For some it may be taste but no matter which oil you’ve chosen, there is one factor that must never be overlooked. It is imperative that it is COLD PRESSED. At the very least, that is what you need to look for. Other ways this information can be described – mechanically extracted, expeller pressed or extracted below 40°C. If the label does not display this information, it is likely that the oil is none of these things and I would strongly suggest you don’t buy it!
You may be wondering why this is so important but the other extraction processes use chemicals and heat; we’ve not evolved to eat chemicals and we all know what HEAT does to oils now don’t we?!
If you have the inclination, google the brand on the spot to check (I do), alternatively just buy one telling you that it’s cold pressed.
Buying Tip: It sounds silly but check the ingredients list too. The only ingredient in the bottle should be the type of oil that we believe we are buying. You will be surprised at how many bottles say 100% X Oil yet the ingredients list includes other things like emulsifier; good quality cold pressed oils do not require emulsifier, or ‘Vegetable Oil’…what is this miscellaneous Vegetable Oil they speak of and why is it in a bottle proclaiming to be 100% X OIL??
Hold up, you say… but how can you be telling us to eat so many calories, surely it’s too much??
At this point I’m sure some of you are pointing out, questioning, the high calorific content of these fats and oils that I am suggesting you consume by the ladle-full. Well, you are correct, the energy value of these foods is high but I implore you to believe me when I shout:
NOT ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL
I’m not inviting you to have ice cream with Extra Virgin Olive Oil on a regular basis (though that’s because of the ice cream not the oil and you should try it. Premium Vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of EVOO and some sea salt…delicious!) but the point, as I’ve said before, is that the consumption of high quality healthy fat is vital to the efficient functioning of our bodies and should be a staple of every diet.
Happy oiling 😉
Do you have any questions or great tips, maybe you have other ways to enjoy these tasty oils?