The 411 on cooking oils

Ever since coconut oil became the newest trend in cooking oils, I had to question how healthy it really is. I was brought up on olive oil and wasn't sure if I should be making a switch.  So, I decided to do some research on some of the most popular oils available and here are my findings:

  • Oils for baking include: coconut, palm, canola and high oleic safflower and sunflower
  • Oils for frying: avocado, peanut, palm and sesame
  • Oils for sautéing: avocado, canola, coconut, grape seed, olive, sesame and high oleic safflower and sunflower
  • Oils for dipping or dressings: flax, olive, peanut, toasted sesame or walnut

Coconut oil: I have read negative and positive reviews on coconut oil. I am going to mention both sides of the argument. It has nutrients like vitamin E, K and iron that are retained at high temperatures, so you are able to consume these vitamins even after cooking. It also has medium chain fatty acids, which are the most easily absorbed in the body. The oil has 12 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily saturated fat to less than seven percent. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. I have been reading a lot of information about the oil helping with weight loss, curing cancer, and even lowering your cholesterol but there is not enough research done to prove any of this. 

Flax seed oil: This oil is full of essential omega-3 fatty acids. I also read that it is loaded with B vitamins, potassium, lecithin, magnesium, fiber, protein, and zinc. I had a hard time finding any cons of the oil. I did read however that it can upset your stomach and may lead to allergic reactions.

Grape seed oil: It is high in vitamins C and E, and also beta-carotene. Some say it can raise healthy cholesterol levels. The oil also can be cooked on high heats without losing its benefits. The oil provides 2.1 g of monounsaturated fats, and 9.5 g of polyunsaturated fat per tablespoon (good fats that cut cholesterol).

Sesame oil: This oil is high in mono- and polyunsaturated acids as well and rich in antioxidants. There are studies showing it may help lower high blood pressure. I have read that it does burn easily and has a strong flavor.

Olive oil: It is rich in monounsaturated fat and contains polyphenols (antioxidants). It is said to lower blood pressure. The oil has also been shown to improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s. 

So, I came to find out that the smells that come from oils being cooked are called aldehydes, something that is toxic to our cells. Those fumes can damage our airways and are related to neurodegenerative diseases and some types of cancer. Olive oils generate the fewest toxic aldehydes.

* As for now I am sticking with olive oil. Until there is hard evidence that coconut oil is healthier, it is not worth it for me to make a switch.

* If anyone has additional information on the topic I'd love to hear it!

Findings came from: wholefoodsmarket, nytimes, huffingtonpost, fitsugar, mayoclinic, and livestrong

picture from: rightathome