I can assure you, there is no perfect answer what are the healthiest cooking oils. It is super overwhelming and confusing to complete a simple task like choosing cooking oil today. It’s 2017 – many things are complicated that shouldn’t be. I have summed up 3 organic (non-GMO), affordable and healthy cooking oils after conducting a thorough research and using common sense, that I believe are good for our bodies.
And the most important thing about my oils – 3 of them can be found in Costco for a reasonable price (or most grocery stores). Like I said before, I’m sure peanut oil is great but I have no time and money to look for organic peanut oil. Let’s be realistic and shop at neighbourhood grocery store or Costco => my healthy Costco shopping list.
Why I like it: Avocado oil is my favourite cooking oil out of all! It has a smoke point of 520 F making it great for day-to-day cooking. It is also great for baking because of its mild taste, and easily replaces unhealthy canola or vegetable oils often called for in cake and breads recipes.
Uses: Sautéing vegetables, frying meats and fish, baking muffins.
What to look for when buying: You don’t have to buy organic avocado oil because avocados have thick skin and grow on trees. There is very small % of pesticides in any avocado oil. Save your money.
Why I like it: Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It lowers risk of getting type 2 diabetes, keeps heart strong and may prevent skin cancer (source). It has a strong taste and rich yellow – greenish colour.
Uses: Extra virgin olive oil has low smoke point, when heated above certain temperature (375-400 F range) its taste and nutrition get affected, believed to the point of becoming toxic and carcinogenic. Pure olive oil has higher smoke point of 465 F, however it’s chemically processed and doesn’t have as many heart-healthy fats as high-quality extra-virgin. In order to keep my life simple without worrying about overheating the skillet and measuring the smoke point (how do you even measure it in a pan?!), I use avocado oil for frying. End of story.
I save extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings and olive oil dip – basically we consume it raw. Sometimes, I like to add it to marinara sauce at the end of cooking off heat, because it’s Italian food that needs olive oil, and not coconut oil.
What to look for when buying: Buy organic, extra virgin, cold pressed, in a dark glass bottle.
Why I like it: Coconut oil is high in saturated fats which are good for the heart. I like its sweet taste and buttery texture.
Uses: Coconut oil has a low smoke point of 350 F. It is best consumed raw in desserts like coconut oil fudge, and is great for baking (however, you have to melt it first and make sure not to mix with other cold ingredients otherwise it will solidify). Coconut oil is good for moisturizing skin in place of lotion – I have tried it and it’s not bad. Some sources indicate coconut oil is good in place of sunscreen, and other sources claim not for us, North Americans, but rather for people in the tropics where coconut oil is from. I can tell you that I tried it as a sunscreen and didn’t love the level of protection or its messiness, therefore I choose good old methods of staying in a shade 12-3 pm, covering up and using organic sunscreen.
What to look for when buying: Organic, cold pressed, virgin or extra virgin, and unrefined.
I understand there has been a lot of conflicting information re: health benefits of coconut oil in the last few years. My personal opinion is this – coconut oil is good for you in moderation. It is true that it’s as good as butter, and I think there is nothing wrong with grass-fed butter in moderation (1 lb lasts us months). I wouldn’t eat a spoonful of coconut oil every day and expect to get healthier, but I definitely cook with it on occasion.
Also, you have to look at sources that publish certain information. My understanding is that American Heart Association (AHA) was a primary source for coconut oil’s negative publicity. However, in same article AHA recommends to use highly processed GMO canola and vegetable oils in place of coconut oil. For decades, AHA has supported low fat diet and published beef recipes in abundance. You have to use your common sense and draw your own conclusions, I recommend this article where coconut oil’s good and bad are explained fairly, in my opinion.
Cooking Oils to Avoid
Canola Oil: Made from genetically modified rapeseed plant, 90% of canola oil is genetically modified. There is no such thing as canola plant. Canola oil is produced using solvents (hexane), which leaves behind residues of toxic chemicals (hexane) in the oil. There is organic canola oil but it’s expensive and I don’t see its health benefits superior to above mentioned oils I buy at Costco at affordable price.
Vegetable Oil: Usually a mix of GMO oils like canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, peanut with same issues as canola oil above – chemically processed, genetically modified, grown with pesticides, high in Omega 6 fatty acids.
Hope this helps to uncomplicated “the complicated”.:)