The Best Fats for Cooking
Fat is one of the most talked about nutrients in the topic of nutrition. Since the beginning of the “Low-Fat” dietary recommendations, we have struggled to understand which fat is best and which to avoid. Unfortunately, it’s been 30 years and we still hear conflicting information almost daily. Since this talking about fat in general is so broad and confusing, let’s focus on one specific question: What is the best kind of fat to use for cooking?
The Mediterranean Wonder Olive Oil
Olive oil is known worldwide as one of the healthiest fats. It’s a good source of monounsaturated fat, making it good for your heart (unlike saturated fat found in animal products, like butter). Olive oil can be used in many different ways, from light sautéing (be sure not to heat it so high that it starts to smoke), baking or making salad dressings. In fact, olive oil is the only kind of fat I personally use for cooking. The only drawback of olive oil is that it is fairly low in Omega-3 fats, which our bodies need for good health. (Seafood, walnuts and flax seeds are good sources of Omega-3 fats.)
The Canadian Contender Canola Oil
The runner-up to olive oil is canola oil. It too is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Unlike olive oil, canola oil does have a good amount of Omega-3 fats and is usually cheaper. Canola oil has a mild flavor and can be used for most any cooking technique, like roasting, baking, sautéing, etc.
The Oldie but Goodie Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is a blend of different oils and is a fine all-purpose oil for cooking. Because it’s blended, you get the best uses of several different oils. Like canola oil, it’s got a mild flavor that works in any recipe. It is probably the cheapest cooking oil to buy as well.
Worst fats for cooking
Since these oils can do just about anything in the kitchen, let’s talk about what fats you should not use.
- Butter- It’s tasty, but it’s mainly saturated fat, which raises our cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease
- Anything with trans fat- Read the ingredients on your margarine and shortening. If it says “partially hydrogenated,” it has trans fat in it. Trans fat is the worst fat for your heart and should be avoided completely.
- Coconut oil- As popular as it is right now, it’s full of saturated fat (which is why it’s solid at room temperature). In fact, it has more saturated fat than butter!
What kinds of oil are in your cupboard? Do you have any questions about how your oil stacks up?