As most of you know I cook. I have been employed at some of the finest restaurants on the west coast. Our site even promotes healthy food via our Good Food Good Life page. In addition we also have a Guest Writer feature where people share old family recipes and tell their story of why the recipe is their favorite. As you’ll see at the end of this article this is a collaborated piece with numerous sources. Not something I usually do not do.However, in this case Rob inspired this article. And I figured, well since we all like to eat and many of us enjoy, contrary to what our doctors say, FRIED foods, I would put something together on this hot August afternoon. So without further ado, here is the skinny on available types of cooking oils and the hazards to watch for when selecting a particular type of oil for cooking. For a look at another perspective here is an article from another of my favorite foodie people the drop dead gorgeous Food Babe, and the bad oils not to use when considering your family’s health.
Cooking oil doesn’t just add culinary flair to the average kitchen— it’s a staple for preparing food, and we need it for some of the best dishes and meals out there!
Besides the usual suspect ingredients on your plate though, do you ever think about your cooking oil? Where it comes from? How it’s made? How it affects the planet?
Turns out some of the most commonplace cooking oils you reach for on grocery store shelves are culprits for bad health, pollution, and even environmental and species degradation.
We need to think twice before we buy these oils, as much as we love them for cooking.
Luckily, not all cooking oils are bad. In the spirit of keeping things positive (and we could sure use it these days), here are three cooking oils you should be wary of—followed by three infinitely better cooking oils that you should absolutely try.
· BAD: Canola oil.
Canola is a crop with plants from three to five feet tall that produce pods from which seeds are harvested and crushed to create canola oil and meal. These plants also produce small, yellow flowers, which beautify the environment.
Canola belongs to the Brassica plant family as does mustard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Besides the United States, canola is grown in Canada and Australia as well as in Europe and China (but the crop is called “double low rapeseed,” referring to its low levels of erucic acid and glucosinolates, in the latter two countries). In America, the ratio of supply versus demand of canola oil is about 1:4, which presents a huge opportunity for U.S. producers to grow more canola. The healthy oil from this crop is consumed all over the world and number three by volume among edible oils.
ABOUT THE OIL
THE GMO FACTOR
GMO canola is used mostly to make cooking oil and margarine. Canola seed meal can also be used in food for animals. Canola oil is used in many packaged foods to improve food consistency. Most GMO canola is resistant to herbicides and helps farmers to more easily control weeds in their fields.
Many GMO crops are used to make ingredients that Americans eat such as cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, or granulated sugar.
According to the Non-GMO Project about 95% of canola produced is genetically modified. This does not bode well for me period…
This one is practically everywhere! It’s hidden away in processed foods, fried foods, and the average kitchen for cooking and frying, too. But we might not realize just how bad it is — and when you do, you may want to stop using it or chuck out the bottle altogether.
Because of the way it is heated and created, canola oil can cause chronic inflammation and even be bad for your heart…as well as your memory! The way it’s grown and produced is no good for the environment either, as it’s almost all genetically modified and blasted with pesticides.
· GOOD: Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I cook with nothing else….pure olive oil.
WHAT IS OLIVE OIL???
Olive oil, oil extracted from the fleshy part of the ripened fruit of the olive tree, Olea europaea. Olive oil varies in colour from clear yellow to golden; some varieties obtained from unripe fruit have a greenish tinge. Oils of varying characteristics and qualities are produced by almost every country that grows olives, the variations depending on the district and the ripeness of the fruit.
There are at least eleven health benefits to using olive oil. In addition any doctor will tell you if you’re looking to cut you bad cholesterol numbers switch to cooking with olive oil.
According to Olive Oil Times, The GMO controversy is not related to olive oil. Currently, there are no GMO olive cultivars in any commercial orchard or nursery anywhere in the world.Let’s hope this is something that stays that way.
If you have this grade of olive oil in your kitchen, you’re on the right track.
Olive oil is chock full of healthy fats and produced in a way that’s gentle on the environment. But, if you get extra virgin (the crème-de-la-crème of olive oils), your olive oil will have a unique grade of antioxidants that could boost heart health, metabolism, and much more.
BAD: Palm oil.
WHAT IS PALM OIL
According to Healthline, Palm oil comes from the fleshy fruit of oil palms. Unrefined palm oil is sometimes referred to as red palm oil because of its reddish-orange color.
The main source of palm oil is the Elaeis guineensis tree, which is native to West and Southwest Africa. Its use in this region dates back more than 5,000 years.
A similar oil palm known as Elaeis oleifera is found in South America, but it’s rarely grown commercially. However, a hybrid of the two plants is sometimes used in palm oil production.
In recent years, oil palm growth has expanded to Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia. These two countries currently produce more than 80% of the world’s palm oil supply (1Trusted Source).
Like coconut oil, palm oil is semi-solid at room temperature. However, its melting point is 95°F (35°C), which is considerably higher than 76°F (24°C) for coconut oil. This is due to the different fatty acid compositions of the two oils.
Palm oil is one of the least expensive and most popular oils worldwide, accounting for one-third of global plant oil production (1Trusted Source).
Palm oil comes from palm trees native to Africa, where it has been consumed for thousands of years. It is semi-solid at room temperature and differs from palm kernel oil in nutritional composition.
It is important to note that palm oil should not be confused with palm kernel oil.
While both originate from the same plant, palm kernel oil is extracted from the seed of the fruit. It provides different health benefits.
According to National Library of Medicine, Oil palm is an important economic crop for Malaysia. Genetic engineering could be applied to produce transgenic oil palms with high value-added fatty acids and novel products to ensure the sustainability of the palm oil industry. Establishment of a reliable transformation and regeneration system is essential for genetic engineering.
Like canola oil, palm oil is just about everywhere. Yes, you can buy it as a cooking oil, but it’s more likely you’ll find it hidden in all sorts of processed foods.
Palm oil is absolutely terrible in more ways than one. Because it’s processed and heated so much to be created it’s really bad for heart health. But what’s truly bad about it is that pristine forests are being rapidly destroyed just to make way for palm oil production.
This is terrible to both wildlife and the local human populations that live near these oil farms.
GOOD: Coconut oil.
ABOUT COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil has grown in popularity in recent years, amid claims that it can do everything from supporting weight loss to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many manufacturers have begun to use coconut oil in packaged products, and many people use it for cooking. Many products, such as fried foods, sweets, shampoos, coffee, smoothies, contain coconut oil.
HOW IS IT MADE???
If Google Trends is any indication, coconut oil continues to proliferate in pantries and medicine cabinets as the go-to slick of choice among the health conscious. Whether it ends up in your brownies or in your hair, all coconut oil starts out in a coconut (of course). But, how does it get from drupe to store?
Myself I have not jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon. While there are benefits to using coconut oil, well, dang-it all I’m just stuck on olive oil. Have been ever since Maria took me into her kitchen to teach me Italian food.
This oil is the focus of many a health craze, and I’m happy to report that its impacts on the environment are pretty low. So, keep using it for cooking, detox, skincare, natural toothpaste, and all those other rad alternative health uses!
Coconut oil is here to stay as a less environmentally harmful and healthier oil. Like extra virgin olive oil, it’s full of healthy plant-based fats that are great for heart health, the immune system, and curbing inflammation.
- BAD: Safflower oil.
- YUCK IS ALL I CAN SAY
Most people would consider this type of cooking oil relatively harmless.
However, compared to more omega-3 fatty acid-rich oils, safflower could actually be considered not all that great for your health! It’s higher in omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s. The problem is, our general diets are often already loaded with omega-6’s and we’re trying to optimize a ratio with omega-3s. So omega-6 rich foods will further push us out of optimal balance, and can have problematic effects on things like heart health, inflammation, and cancer risk in your body.
GOOD: Avocado oil.
Avocados have been important throughout history as a food source and…well other beliefs…
The avocado was extremely important among the indigenous people of ancient Mesoamerica, as the fruit provided sustenance and possessed mythological powers. For instance, the Aztecs believed the fruit provided strength to whomever consumed it, and in ancient Maya, the fourteenth month of their calendar (K’ank’in) is represented by the glyph for the avocado.
The avocado is an amazing and unusual fruit. Unlike many other fruits, it is full of healthy fats and it can also be used to produce oil. Avocado oil may not be as well known or used as much as olive oil, it provides the same delicious flavors, and just as many if not more health benefits.
(Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com) Avocados not only are one of the world’s healthiest fruits, but they’re also among the most economically important, representing a $13 billion market in 2017.1 Avocados have been enjoyed since ancient times, but their DNA has been largely foreign — until now. A group of U.S. and Mexican scientists has sequenced the genomes of Mexican and well-known Hass avocados.
According to HealthLine, there are nine evidence based health benefits of using Avocado Oil.The avocado is an unusual fruit.Unlike most fruits, it’s rich in healthy fats and is often used to produce oil (1).While avocado oil is not as well known as olive oil, it’s just as delicious.Avocado oil also has numerous benefits, largely related to its content of antioxidants and healthy fats.
Myself I have never tried ior used Avocado Oil, however, Avocado Honey, now that is something worth finding and using.
It might not have the reputation of olive oil, but apparently avocado has similar health benefits and qualities. It also contains oleic acid: an antioxidant most famous for being in olive oil, which helps keep down chronic inflammation and reduces heart disease risk. It’s also got a high smoke point (meaning fewer carcinogens in your food) and can be used to roast and bake just about anything!
Hope this helps clear a few things up for you. Special Thanks to Rob at The Earth Conscious Life for the idea and the use of his content.And I’m sure the other site will not mind the links and references and liberal use of their photos.
Until Next Time
Written By: Aaron Aveiro, with sources noted
Photos: Aaron Aveiro unless otherwise noted on photos