Cooking with Oils

Fats and oils are very important to our diet…in moderation of course…and if it’s the right type of fat!

There are two essential fatty acids (EFAs) that we must consume in our food: linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3).  EFAs are important  for growth, blood vessels and nerves, our brain, reduce inflammation, and skin to keep it youthful and supple.  In the typical North American diet it is much easier to get omega 6 than omega 3.  Most plant oils (canola, corn, peanut, safflower, sesame, sunflower) contain plenty of omega 6 fatty acids.  Rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids are found in flaxseeds and flax oil, chia seeds, pumpkins seeds, cold water fish such as salmon, halibut, cod, trout and mackerel.

All fats are best eaten in their raw form, but when we do we cook with them, it’s good to know how to cook with them safely.  There are 3 things that can turn oils rancid.  Heat, Air and Light.  When you do buy your oils always buy oils in a dark bottle, away from bright lights and kept in a cool place.

What happens to an oil when frying?

  • rapid oxidation and chemical changes
  • antioxidants are used up, which then produces free radicals
  • produce some trans- fatty acids!

Frying once with oils won’t kill you, but using unstable oils on a regular basis for years our cells accumulate altered and toxic products which then creates cell degeneration causing degenerative diseases.

When foods turn brown, they are burned, the nutrients in the browned material are now destroyed.

Note that frying and deep frying destroys all oils, but some oils are damaged less than others.

If you must fry, use oils that have the least amount of EFAs. Use sulphur-rich garlic and onions to reduce free radical damage.

Here are oils least damaged by high temperatures and oxygen (in this order) are:

  1. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – come from tropical oils
  2. Butter
  3. Tropical fats i.e. coconut, palm!
  4. High Oleic Sunflower Oil (not regular sunflower)
  5. High Oleic Safflower Oil (not regular safflower)
  6. Peanut Oil
  7. Sesame Oil
  8. Olive Oil

The following oils should NOT be used for frying at all: 

  • Flax Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Fish Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Walnut