Updated: Apr 20, 2021
Recently a lot of clients have asked which oil is best to cook with. Is this something you have thought about before? I can feel heads nodding - let’s explore it below!
What's the perceived issue?
The main concern people have is heating oils beyond their smoking points, thus changing the molecular structure of the oil and the belief that this may cause harm to our body. The smoking point is the temperature at which smoke is produced when an oil is heated.
If we are more specific, the process of cooking oils does produce ‘polar compounds’. These polar compounds can cause inflammation in our body, however… this is not the full picture!
Oils also contain substances such as antioxidants and phenolics that protect the oil during the cooking process and prevent the production of polar compounds. Therefore, the smoking point of oils during cooking are not a reliable indicator of the oils impact on our health.
A study found that most oils have a smoking point of >191 degrees Celsius. Virgin Olive Oil (note: this product is very different to Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and Macadamia oil had a smoking point of 175 and 154 degrees Celsius respectively – quite low when you think about the temperature of baking around 180, pan frying around 120 and deep frying around 160-180 degrees Celsius.
It has also been found that Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) had the highest amount of phenolics, and therefore the least amounts of polar compounds produced during the cooking process. As well as canola oil, grapeseed oil and rice bran oil produced the highest amounts of polar compounds.
All in all, Extra Virgin Olive Oil would be my recommendation for an oil to use when cooking above 180 degrees Celsius.
Remember to choose the healthier oil instead of, not as well as, as a part of a healthy, varied diet.
Start thinking of ways you can swap to healthier oils in your daily intake. Perhaps purchasing EVOO and placing it near the fry pan or using it as a salad dressing base, or even swapping coconut oil in your curry for reduced fat coconut milk and EVOO.
Three tablespoons of EVOO a day has benefits on heart health in the context of a healthy diet.
If you would like to know more, please contact us at Habits for Health - https://www.habitsforhealthnutrition.com/contactus
Have a delicious day!
Allouche Y et al. 2007 How Heating Affects Extra Virgin Olive Oil Quality Indexes and Chemical Composition J. Agric. Food Chem. 55: 9646-54
McMillian, Joanna. (n.d.). The Science of Cooking Oils. Dietitian Connection. Retrieved from: https://dietitianconnection.com/app/uploads/2017/04/The-Science-of-Cooking-Oils-DC-Dr-Joanna-April-2017.pdf