Oil is essential for cooking. It is present in almost any recipe and it certainly adds richness to the flavors. You have many ways to use it. You can fry, cook, bake, or put it in a salad. But which oils are the best ones for your health?
Oils come from pressing fruits and vegetable seeds and are mostly rich in healthy fatty acids, polyphenols, antioxidants, and vitamin E.
But for it to be healthy, oils must always be cold-pressed, extra virgin. Whether they are olive, sunflower, sesame, flax, coconut, or any other variety. As long as possible, refining should be avoided.
The problem with oils is that many of them are usually marketed refined. This is the case of sunflower, corn, and soybean oils. But also rapeseed oil, which is sold as canola and is transgenic, and coconut oil, which is refined under the name of copra.
Your best options
For a raw dressing you can use all types of oil, but not so much for boiling, sautéing, roasting, or frying. When heated, some healthy oils at room temperature can become harmful.
High heat changes their chemical characteristics: fats present in oils can become saturated, turn into trans fats, and generate toxic compounds. Each type of oil has a temperature at which it degrades and burns.
Each oil has a different taste. Olive oil is different according to each area and variety of olive. The mild flavors of the seed oils are very suitable for dressings and in confectionery. For exotic dishes, we will use sesame or peanut oil.
Its most attractive use is in confectionery and to give texture to creams and ice creams. In cooking, it resists temperatures up to 180ºC, so it can be used for light frying and sautéing.
Monounsaturated oils, such as olive and peanut oils
They are the most suitable, healthy, and versatile oils for cooking because they resist temperatures of up to 190ºC, which allows them to be fried, roasted, and sautéed. But their composition is altered when fried with more heat, so it is not recommended not to overuse this type of cooking. They should not be reused.
Omega 6 polyunsaturated oils
Such as sunflower, corn, nut, sesame, and soybean oils. If they are not refined, they are very healthy for use in cold weather as dressings, marinades, and pâtés. Or for cooking at mild temperatures, boiling, or baking. They should not be used for frying, because they deteriorate very easily.
Omega 3 polyunsaturated oils
Such as flax or hemp. They are highly valued for their precious essential acids, but at the same time very fragile. They should never be heated and should be kept in the refrigerator. They are taken raw, as a nutritional supplement.
If you want to learn more about oils, check out our article on Olive Oil.