Recently, I was asked: what's the best oil to cook with?
One would think any oil suffices for cooking. That's SO not the case.
Non-processed and organic saturated fats (the kind that are solid or semi-solid at room temperature) are typically the best for cooking at high temperatures, as they will not go rancid nor oxidize.
You see when an oil goes rancid or oxidizes, it produces free radicals. Free radicals are the ANTI anti-oxidant. Where anti-oxidants help prevent signs of aging like wrinkles and heart disease. Free radicals–the ANTI anti-oxidants– actually cause premature aging and diseases.
When cooking at high temps or with a high flame you should use a good, hearty saturated oil or fat that will remain stable when being heated and not produce any free radicals. Such fats are butter (yes butter–good organic butter, preferably from grass-fed cows, is actually healthy for you), coconut oil, sesame oil or ghee. (Read more about fats, oils and the myths about cholesterol here ; it's a long and somewhat boring article, but it's definitely educational.)
When using a low flame, or baking– monounsaturated cold- pressed, organic, extra virgin olive oil is a good choice. Olive oil will go rancid and create free radicals at high temperatures (or with a high flame). A good general rule of thumb: if you’re cooking with MORE than a medium flame on the stove-top: DON’T use olive oil. Use organic coconut or sesame oil, butter or ghee instead.
I've made this little, easy cheat sheet for you to look at so you can know what to cook with when.
- Eggs: when pan-frying eggs, use organic butter, ghee or coconut oil to cook. *DO NOT use olive oil to cook eggs.
- Chicken: grill, bake or cook on the stove-top. Use organic butter, ghee, coconut oil or olive oil (when baking or using a low flame on the stove-top) to cook.
- Fish: broil, steam or grill. Use organic butter,ghee, olive or coconut oil to cook.
- Meat: pan-sear, grill or broil. Use organic butter, ghee or coconut oil to cook. *DO NOT use olive oil to cook meat.
Heres another tidbit for your cheat sheet… when buying oils, its important that you only purchase oils that have these three terms on the label: cold-pressed, organic and extra virgin. This ensures that the process at which the oil was made for you did not use harsh chemicals (like hexane) nor high heat (which robs the oils of their naturally occuring nutrients).
Did you notice that canola oil wasn't mentioned at all? That's because canola oil is so refined and chemically processed that it really isn't that healthy for us– and, why use it when we have other options to choose from. I personally wouldn't recommend cooking with it, ever. For more information, read this article.
This should go without saying, but avoid at all costs cooking with any of the following commercial vegetable oils: cotton seed oil, soy oil, corn oil, canola oil, hemp oil and grapeseed oil; all margarines, spreads and partially hydrogenated vegetable shortenings. They're over processed, offer us zilch for nutrition and are just gross.