8 Cooking Oils You've Never Heard of
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Different oils are needed for different cooking methods and each has a unique use
We’ve compiled a list of the top cooking oils that you’re probably not using, but should be.
The first sentence of a novel sets the tone of the book, and the same goes for the first ingredient of a recipe in relation to the dish as a whole. Starting off with the right kind of cooking oil will guide your meal in the right direction, with hints of flavor and boosts of personality along the way. Different oils are needed for different cooking methods and each has a unique use. We’ve compiled a list of the top cooking oils that you’re probably not using, but should be.
Cooking oil serves our food as a healthy fat component, a flavor enhancer and a lubricant. Traditionally when cooking, recipes call for extra virgin olive oil; however, there are many oils out there that serve a similar purpose as olive oil but with a different flair. Let us make your transition smooth as oil as you experiment with new varieties in the kitchen. Check out the slideshow and chances are you can replace the EVOO with new oil.
Unlike wine, oils do not get better with age so make sure to use soon after opening. Although all oils have a special unique quality, many of the lesser-known types share one distinct trait: they are rich with health benefits and can often double as skin or hair care. The more you know about your oil, the better relationship you will have with your food. Naturally, the best thing you can do with your oil of choice is let it guide your meal with those first few drops.
Whether you are sautéing over high heat or looking to add new flavors to a fresh spring salad, there is an ideal oil made to enhance each dish. Step out of the extra virgin bubble and explore the wide variety of cooking oils.
The Hateful Eight: Enemy Fats That Destroy Your Health
Every day you probably hear health and diet information delivered as gospel by doctors and scientists from the most respected institutions in the country. The rules of the media game typically require that the experts brought into the spotlight will be parroting the same information you’ve already heard thousand of times before.
But Bill Maher isn’t afraid of rocking the boat. On Friday May 22, 2020, when one of the few in big media willing to talk about the relationship between diet and health like a grown-up, Bill Maher, invited me onto Real-Time to share some truth. (Short segment here, full audio here on stitcher, intro to my segment starts at 17:15)
Dr Cate Shanahan Talks Toxic Fats (Hateful 8 Seed Oils) on Real Time With Bill Maher (View Clip HERE)
Here are some of the things we discussed.
The Grease In the Pan: 8 Cooking Oils
Recognized by the American Dietetics Association and American Heart Association for its good-to-bad fat ratio and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, canola oil is derived from a specially cultivated version of rapeseed. Its name is a shortened version of the phrase "Canadian oil, low acid" the first canola plants were bred in Canada and lead to lower levels of erucic acid (which, at the time, was believed to have an adverse affect on the heart).
Recommended Use: Stir-frying and baking
Linoleic and high oleic sunflower oils boast impressive levels of vitamin E. Both oils are derived from oilseed sunflower seeds&mdashwhich differ from the non-oilseed or confectionary sunflower seeds used in snacks and baked goods. According to USDA.com, this oil meets the criteria for cholesterol-reducing diets since it is low in saturated fat and has high oleic acid content.
Recommended Use: High-heat frying, searing and browning
Margarine&mdashsometimes referred to as oleo&mdashis an umbrella term that can account for an ample range of butter substitutes, and is simply identified as a vegetable or animal-fat extraction. Today's non-hydrogenated margarine is considered healthier than butter because it doesn't contain trans-fats.
Recommended Use: Some baking and spreading, such as on toast
Coconut oil is often called a tropical oil and is extracted from the brown meat of a coconut. Due to its high saturated fat content (close to 90%), this oil remains controversial in the United States since consumption of saturated fatty acids have been linked to high levels of LDL cholesterol. The oil is still widely used in regions of South Asia where coconuts are prevalent.
Recommended Use: Frying, due its high heat tolerance.
Extracted from the fruit of the olive tree , olive oil is much-loved for its proven cardio-protective benefits. Available in many different grades, regular consumption may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat content in the oil.
Recommended Use: Salads and other cold ingredients (extra-virgin) light sautéing or cooking that remains under 320 degrees
Butter is classified as an emulsion of mammal's milk, salt, flavorings and preservatives. Consisting of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, butter is not usually recommended as a healthy cooking grease, though many people still prefer it due to its flavor.
Recommended Use: Baking, cream-sauce making and frying
Peanut oil, popular in Asian cooking, is noted to have the slight aroma of peanuts (which makes sense since it is derived from the same peanuts many people like to snack on). Though there are mixed claims about how healthy this oil is, its major fat content is mostly monounsaturated aka the "good" fat.
Recommended Use: Deep frying
Palm kernel oil (subtracted from the pit of the fruit) is unfavorably compared to palm oil (extracted from the fruit)&mdashthough research suggests that neither of the two versions is terribly healthy. Palm kernel oil is often preferred by manufacturers due its low cost, availability and melting characteristics, though palm oil is considered the healthier of the due to its lesser saturated fat content and higher antioxidant levels.
Recommended Use: Frying
The Healthiest Cooking Oils, According to a Registered Dietitian
Everything you need to know, including smoke points and best uses.
The landscape of oils at the grocery store has really expanded over the past several years, bringing to light new types of unique oils that may seem intimidating at first. But different oils have different characteristics and specific purposes when it comes to cooking. Some oils are best for frying, whereas some are ideal for simply drizzling or using as garnish. Before we get into the different types of cooking oils, there are a few basic tips you'll want to know regarding oil properties and storage practices.
When it comes to storage, you never want to store oil near or over the stove. Certain oils can become rancid if exposed to light, heat, and oxygen. Instead, store oil in a cool, dark place. For best quality and flavor from your oil, aim to use it within one year of purchase (some oils may need to be used even sooner). While wine gets better with age, oil does not and the quality and flavor will weaken as the oil ages.
Another important thing to note is the oil's smoke point, which is listed out for each oil mentioned below. An oil smoke point, also known as the burning point of oil, is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke up and lose its integrity. If an oil starts to smoke, it can release chemicals that give your food a bitter flavor and also produce free radicals that can be harmful to your health. When dealing with high heat oils, Good Housekeeping&rsquos Senior Testing Editor Nicole Papantoniou recommends to heat your pan first, then add your oil, and then the ingredients to help prevent the oil from getting hot too quickly and potentially burning. Ensuring that you are using the right oil for whatever cooking method you choose is crucial to staying within the smoke point limit and enhancing the quality of your dish.
Below, you'll find our list for the healthiest cooking oils:
The Mediterranean Diet has been linked to weight loss and a reduction in disease risk, plus a boost in longevity overall. Olive oil, known for its role in the Mediterranean Diet, is abundant in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. A large meta analysis done in 2014 found that the monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil were able to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
For olive oil to be certified extra virgin, it must be first cold pressed. Cold pressed indicates that the olives never exceed a certain temperature during the pressing process, which ensures maximum quality. Harvesting is also important when it comes to olive oil. Experts from Kosterina Greek Olive Oil harvest unripe olives which they say, &ldquomakes the oil richer in healthy polyphenols and very high in antioxidants.&rdquo Extra virgin olive oil has a relatively low smoke point, so it's best for sautéing over medium heat or roasting below those temperatures. It's also a great addition to dressings because of its deep peppery flavor.
Best for: Salad dressings and sautéing
Smoke point: Extra Virgin 325-375°F, Refined 465°F
This oil, derived from the flesh of pressed avocados, has a mild flavor and high smoke point so it's perfect for almost any cooking uses in the kitchen. Avocado oil has one of the highest levels of healthy monounsaturated fats of all oils, and it's also low in polyunsaturated fats. The mild flavor is very versatile, which is why avocado oil is the perfect healthy swap in any baked goods. It does tend to be a bit more expensive, but many brands offer it in a spray container without propellants so you can control how much you use at a time.
Best for: Frying, roasting, baked goods
Smoke point: Virgin 375°F, Refined 520°F
Flaxseed oil is a great vegan source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Diets rich in omega-3 ALA, found in flaxseed oil, have been linked to lower lipid levels and reduced blood pressure in individuals with high cholesterol. Abundant in monounsaturated fats, flaxseed oil requires refrigeration and is very sensitive to heat as it can go rancid and oxidize quickly. Flaxseed oil has a very slightly nutty flavor and is best for for salad dressings and drizzling. Due to its low smoke point, flaxseed oil should not be cooked with. It's important to note that flaxseed oil can spoil quickly, which is why it should be kept in a dark container in the back of the refrigerator.
Best for: Salad dressings and drizzling
Smoke point: 225°F
"The very thing that make walnuts such a nutrient powerhouse as the only nut with an excellent source of plant omega-3s (ALA) make its oil an excellent finishing ingredient to drizzle and pour on completed dishes," says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RDN, Author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean and owner of Bazilian&rsquos Health in San Diego. Since most walnut oil is sold unrefined or semi-refined, it has more of the naturally occurring nutrients and phytochemicals but this makes it more challenging when it comes to putting it over heat.
Bazilian suggests using walnut oil to toss into pasta dishes and drizzle over salad or a squash-based soup as a finisher. Since walnut oil is fairly pricey and delicate, Bazilian says it's best to store in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve the flavor and phytochemicals.
Best for: Salad dressings and drizzling
Smoke point: 320°F
Jada Linton, RDN, LD, of the National Peanut Board says that there are a few different types of peanut oil, each made using a different technique and offering a range of flavors from mild and sweet to strong and nutty. Almost half of peanut oil is comprised of monounsaturated fats. Traditionally used in Asian dishes, peanut oil has a relatively high smoke point and is ideal for searing meats, grilling, roasting vegetables, and frying. Linton adds that, "on top of the delicious flavor, peanut oil is a great source of vitamin E containing 11% of the recommended daily intake and has one of the highest monounsaturated fat contents among cooking oils."
Best for: Stir fry and sautéing
Smoke point: 450°F
Sesame oil is rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, but also low in saturated fat. This oil contains sesamol and sesamin which are powerful antioxidants. There is evidence that sesame oil can potentially reduce blood pressure as well. Expeller-pressed is the best kind of sesame oil, since the oil from the seeds is extracted at a cooler temperature and this is considered cold pressed. Toasted sesame oil involves seeds that are roasted beforehand, but the extraction process is the same. Since toasted sesame oil adds a lot of flavor, it pairs well in stir frys and makes a great alternative to peanut oil if you have a peanut allergy.
Best for: Sautéing, stir fry, frying
Smoke point: 450°F
Coconut oil has grown much in popularity with followers of the keto diet and the Paleo diet, but is it healthy? Coconut oil is made by pressing fresh coconut meat or dried coconut meat depending on the type. Coconut oil is firm at room temperature because it is composed of 90% saturated fat and also is a rich natural source of medium-chain triglycerides. Research on coconut oil has been inconsistent, some studies showing it can raise the good HDL cholesterol, while other studies showing it can also raise the bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
It's best for quick sautéing or in baked goods, but it does not do well at very high heat temperatures. If you do substitute coconut oil for butter in baked goods, you'll want to use about 25% less coconut oil than the called for amount of butter since coconut oil has higher percentage of fat solids. Regardless, coconut oil is not a miracle food and it is best to use it in moderation, if you like the taste of course.
Best for: Baking and sautéing
Smoke point: Extra Virgin or Unrefined 350°F, Refined 450°F
Canola oil is made from rapeseed and has a high smoke point, so it can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen which is why it's often a staple in most homes. This budget-friendly choice is low in saturated fat and relatively high in monounsaturated fat. The only issue is that canola oil tends to be highly processed, so looking for cold-pressed and a good quality brand is key.
Replace Acidic Foods
Heartburn results from too much acid in the stomach, Moussan says, so you don’t want to make it worse by eating foods that are highly acidic, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, pineapple). Some people with heartburn can tolerate small amounts of ketchup, but it may be safer to use reduced-fat mayonnaise or mustard instead. Vinegar is also highly acidic cider vinegar and rice vinegar, however, are less acidic and may be less likely to provoke heartburn symptoms than regular vinegar.
Once you’ve boiled the corn on the cob, let the water cool and toss some spices into the mineral- and vitamin-rich brew to make stock. Or add veggies and meat to make soup. Pour anything extra on your garden or indoor plants as fertilizer. Get more ideas at Mamapedia.
Liquid from canned corn (both creamed and whole kernel) can also be used in soups and other recipes. Likewise for the liquid in hominy (corn kernels that have been soaked in lye or lime to soften them and loosen the hulls). Whenever possible, opt for organically grown canned brands or whole ears to cut down on your intake of harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
Below are all the recipes, the effect they give, and the required ingredients for each one.
Effect: Health slightly increases permanently
Ingredients: Fish (3), Poultry (2)
Bird and Beast Pilaf
Effect: Damage taken when guarding decreases permanently.
Ingredients: Poultry (4), Meat (1)
Effect: Health increases permanently
Ingredients: Fish (4), Poultry (2), Meat (3)
Tochitura de Pui
Effect: Health greatly increases permanently
Ingredients: Poultry (4), Meat(3), Juicy Game (1)
Ciorba de Porc
Effect: Damage taken when guarding greatly decreases permanently
Ingredients: Fish (1), Meat (5), Quality Meat (1)
Sarmale de Peste
Effect: Movement speed increases permanently
Ingredients: Fish (6), Finest Fish (1)
Let’s start with the basics:
What’s the deal with “smoke point”?
When picking an oil to use in a recipe, one of the most important things to consider is how much heat the oil can absorb before it starts to smoke and taste bitter, the oils smoke point. Smoke point is the reason why extra virgin olive oil is a great choice for salad dressing but a less-than-ideal choice for sauteéing your veggies.
What’s the difference between raw and refined oil?
In its purest form, oil is extracted by crushing or pressing from a seed, nut, or fruit. If bottled immediately thereafter, the product is a raw and unrefined oil that will retain is natural flavor and aromatic qualities. These oils are great for adding flavor to a dish and often boast healthful compounds like antioxidants, but those same compounds are more likely to be reactive with high heats and light, making it go rancid faster. Refined oils are less flavorful and complex, but yield a more shelf-stable, neutral-flavored product with a higher smoke point.
What does “all-purpose cooking oil” mean?
This is code for a flavor-neutral oil that can stand up to relatively high temperatures (smoke point, again!).
The Best Cooking Oils
The best cooking oils are minimally processed, with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and no GMOs and a high smoke point.
Avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points, making it resistant to oxidation. (11)
This healthy oil is also abundant in monounsaturated fatty acids, so you avoid the possible inflammatory effects of too many omega-6 fatty acids. As a bonus, it contains beneficial antioxidant compounds like polyphenols and carotenoids, which in animal studies shows to prevent aging and disease. (12)
Look for cold-pressed, unrefined avocado oil. The smoke point is slightly lower, but it ensures minimal processing with no heat, so there’s no risk that it’s already oxidized.
Use avocado oil in high-heat sautéing and frying, as well as broiling and roasting at high temperatures.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Even though olive oil’s smoke point is lower than some of the other oils on this list, studies show it is still one of the most stable cooking oils.
Researchers theorize that the high levels of monounsaturated fat and abundant antioxidants help stabilize the oil, even when it’s heated above its smoke point. In this way, olive oil is one of the unique oils that work outside of the smoke point box when it comes to oxidizing. (13)
Be sure to purchase extra virgin olive oil, ideally cold-pressed. This ensures that none of the antioxidants are damaged by heat processing, and also that you avoid chemical solvents used to extract the oil from the seed.
Coconut oil is another fantastic oil for high-heat cooking. Almost 90 percent of coconut oil is saturated fat, which is much more stable than polyunsaturated fats for cooking. (14)
Plus, coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a different type of fatty acid that may help with weight loss and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, while raising good cholesterol. (15, 16)
Coconut oil is best used for medium to high heat cooking. Be sure to look for unrefined, cold-pressed oil to avoid oxidization.
Macadamia Nut Oil
While not as common as the other cooking oils, macadamia nut oil contains high amounts of monounsaturated fats, making it excellent for high-heat cooking. (17, 18) Animal studies show macadamia nut oil may even help reduce inflammation. (19)
Give vegetables and meats a buttery flavor by roasting them in macadamia nut oil. As always, be sure to purchase cold-pressed and unrefined oil.
If you’re cooking with medium heat, say with light sautés or gentle roasts under 400ºF, almond oil is an excellent choice. Almonds also contain monounsaturated fat, making them less inflammatory than many seed oils.
Studies also show consuming almond oil may lower your cholesterol. (20)
Never Make These 8 Cooking Mistakes Again
So, you can slice, salt and deep-fry dodo with your eyes closed. You can bake an amazing chocolate cake in your sleep. You can cook irresistible jollof spaghetti with your hands tied behind your back.
But you know what? The fact you can do something with ease does not mean that you are doing it the right way.
Experience does not absolve you of making mistakes either. Yes, practice makes perfect, but what if you’ve been practicing the wrong thing all along?
In this article, we will be highlighting 8 cooking mistakes you probably did not know you were making so you can avoid them for delicious results going forward:
You Must Always Taste The Food As You Go
When you do something enough times, it becomes routine and you can basically do it on autopilot. You know how it starts, how it goes and how it ends- nothing surprises you anymore.
When you stop expecting surprises, you stop looking for them and that’s when you do things like cook spaghetti Bolognese without bothering to taste it at all.
You might get the recipe and procedure of your meal entirely right, but get the balance of flavour and texture entirely wrong. All the measuring cups and spoons in the world will not substitute for the measuring power of your tongue.
You Need To Read The Full Recipe Before You Start Cooking
Have you ever started reading an instruction booklet then after just a few lines, you felt like you knew where it was all going? So, you stopped reading, put the booklet down and started doing what you were sure was the right thing, only to mess things up, then have to go read the full instructions and start all over again?
It’s frustrating when that happens.
Failure to read and fully understand a recipe before cooking could lead to you leaving out key ingredients or crucial steps.
It is better to read the recipe several times and cook only once than it is to read it halfway and have to cook several times.
Avoid Overcrowding Your Pan When Frying
You like your fried chicken nice and brown, don’t you? Well, it might not turn out that way if you fry too many pieces of chicken at the same time.
While on fire, the meat releases moisture. This is the process that allows it to turn brown and crunchy, but a crowded pan creates a choked environment where instead of moisture being released into the air, it is transferred from a piece of meat to another.
As a result, your meat will turn out soggy and will not turn brown.
Always Allow Meat To Thaw Before Microwaving
Taking meat straight out of the freezer and sticking it into the microwave? Bad idea.
Frozen meat heats up unevenly in the microwave, leaving you with a piece of meat that’s thawed on the outside, not suitably heated in the middle.
What you should do is let your meat thaw at room temperature for a few minutes before microwaving it.
Do Not Boil When You Should Be Simmering
What’s the difference between a boil and a simmer, you may ask? It’s all about the size of the water bubbles.
When the bubbles are big and bubbling furiously to the surface of the water, then you’re boiling. When the bubbles are tiny and bubbling gently, then you are simmering.
Boiling and simmering are not very different, but they are suited for different ingredients. Basically, foods that require a short cooking time should be boiled, while foods that need to get done over a longer period should simmer.
When you boil food that you should really simmer, what you’ll end up with is food that is dry or tough.
Examples of foods that should be boiled include corn, pasta, vegetables and noodles. Foods that require simmering include chicken, pork and eggs.
Don’t Overcook Vegetables
Two things happen when you cook vegetables- they lose some of their original flavour and they get softer.
Considering that you will heat your soup a few times after cooking it, the vegetables will go through the softening/flavour-shedding process a few times.
To avoid your soups becoming too soft and flavourless too soon, avoid overcooking it the first time around.
Give Your Meat Time To Fully Absorb The Flavour After Cooking
During cooking, the juices usually gather in the center of your meat. However, if you allow the meat to rest in one place for a while, the flavour will eventually distribute itself evenly throughout.
If you start slicing or carving it up too early, you’re going to end up squeezing out the delicious juices all over your cutting board, leaving your meat dry and tasteless.
Always Sprinkle Semovita Evenly Into The Hot Water
Semovita flour starts the process of turning into paste the moment it hits hot water.
When you pour too much flour in one area of the water, you’ll have too much paste coming together at once. As a result, you will have dry spots in your final product.
What you should do is sprinkle the Semovita flour evenly in the water, then bring it together in a consistent texture with your turning stick.
The best cooks don’t always make the best meals, but the best practices will always yield the best results.