Are you on a quest to start cooking healthier dishes and be more mindful of what you are putting into your body ingredient-wise? If so, there is no doubt you’ve been busy scouring recipe books and websites in search of tasty yet healthy dishes that you can try out. Besides just the dish itself, you will also want to consider the cooking oils that you use, as this is another area you can put your health first and choose varieties that offer benefits to you.
Here we’ll take a look at the top four healthiest types of cooking oils and how you can use them properly in all your tasty creations.
Think Twice Before You Reach for Vegetable Oil
If you’ve been in the habit of using vegetable oil for all your recipes, it’s time to think twice. The name “vegetable” oil gives the impression that this is a naturally occurring oil and, therefore, it’s healthy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not all vegetable oils are the same but they do share a few things in common – they are bad for your health and the environment at large.
Vegetable oil is simply an oil that has been extracted from different types of seeds. These seeds include such varieties as peanut, safflower, soybean, rapeseed (canola oil), sunflower, and corn. The problem is that in order to extract the oil, an unnatural process has to occur. Typically the seeds the oil is being extracted from have been genetically modified and then the process itself includes the addition of chemicals and solvents. This doesn’t exactly make it a naturally occurring oil by the time you get the finished product.
So what about the good fats that you can use for cooking? Well, good old-fashioned butter is actually one of the best options out there. Butter uses a very simple process, there are no chemicals or solvents added, and the end result is pure. Of course, with that said, you want to go easy on how much butter you use, but at least you know it’s a healthy cooking oil/fat. Butter is excellent for baked dishes, but also for browning and adding flavor. Keep in mind that its low smoke point can make it a bit tricky to fry with. You will want to use low heat and watch it carefully, or it will soon burn in the ban – burnt butter smells bad and will taint the rest of your dish with an unpleasant flavor.
Coconut oil seems to be getting a lot more attention over the past few years as people start to realize just how healthy and tasty it is. Just like butter, it is in a solid form that you want to keep at room temperature. Where this one really shines is if you’re baking since it is creamy in texture. Keep in mind it tends to have a low smoking point, rather like butter, which means it’s not ideal for frying.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Even though this one isn’t meant to cook with, it’s still a great oil for recipes. Any time your non-heat recipe calls for an oil opt for this one. For example, extra virgin olive oil works great in salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise, and humus. What makes extra-virgin olive oil such a great choice is that it is the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that offers a number of great benefits.
Avocadoes are the hottest thing on food blogs right now. Instagrammer lifestyle influences love nothing more than to post photos of avocadoes artfully arranged. If it’s frying that you want to be able to do, then avocado oil could be ideal. It has a high smoke point so it can handle the heat, but this one is pretty pricey, so it’s not always great for your wallet. However, it is known to be low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated fats, making it heart-healthy. This makes it a great choice if you are trying to reduce your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Other healthy oils worth considering include safflower oil and peanut oil (unless you have a peanut allergy, of course).
Now that you’ve familiarised yourself with some of the more healthy options, you can start searching for the ideal recipes to make use of these oils and fats.