Which Cooking Oil Should I Use?
It’s difficult to keep up with the latest opinions on fat. Previously health guidelines have advocated low fat diets, whereas more recently it seems like butter and full-fat dairy is back in fashion.
Regardless of trends, the majority of people would say fat is necessary in some part to maintain a healthy diet as it helps the body to absorb minerals and vitamins as well as providing energy.
When cooking, many people will turn to a form of fat to add flavour and prevent food sticking to the pan. If the issue of fat wasn’t already confusing enough, there are so many different types of cooking oils that it can be difficult to choose which one to use – whether you’re focused on the healthful properties or just on how different oils will affect your cooking.
At Baldwins, we also have plenty of options of cooking oils, but we thought we would break down a few as examples so you can better understand their properties and feel more confident when choosing which healthy fat to incorporate into your diet.
Extracted from the seeds of grapes, grapeseed oil is another good choice for cooking oil. It contains a high amount of omega 6, helping the body to burn fat, and contains antioxidants to support a healthy body from the inside out.
This oil has a high smoke point which means it can be used at high temperatures without the oil smoking and releasing toxic fumes. It if the perfect choice for general cooking, and also has a light flavour so can be used as a neutral fat in salad dressings, for example.
Sunflower oil is the vegetable oil with the highest level of polyunsaturated fat with plenty of fatty acids. This is great if you are concerned about blood pressure or heart problems. Saturated fats can also make people feel sluggish, so polyunsaturated fats are a good alternative to try as they naturally boost energy levels. It also contains vitamin E, which contributes to regenerating cells and protecting you from any skin damage while repairing scars quicker.
When it comes to cooking with sunflower oil, it has a mild flavour which is better preserved if you choose a cold-pressed and unrefined bottle. This will work very well in dressings. It also has a high smoking point so can be used for frying.
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is extremely high in monounsaturates (considered a ‘healthy fat’) and has anti-atherogenic properties (helps to avoid clogging and hardening of the arteries, lessening the risk of cardiovascular problems). It’s also packed with anxtioxidants, so it’s a great choice to incorporate into a healthy diet for a boost of goodness.
Extra virgin olive oil is probably the best type of olive oil to choose as it is extracted naturally, which makes it a better choice than the majority of ‘light’ olive oils. It also has a stronger fruitier flavour which makes it brilliant for salad dressings.
Coconut oil is extremely versatile – good for spreading, frying, roasting and baking, as well as using as part of a natural beauty routine! If you’re interested in incorporating coconut into your cooking oils, it contains many health benefits that should convince you.
While it counts as a saturated fat, which some may think is the ‘bad’ type of fat, its structure means it is actually made up of lauric acid – one of the same properties as breast milk. This makes it more digestible, a great source of energy and, unlike other saturated fats, it actually helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Soya or soybean oil contains a high level of plant sterols and fatty acids. Both of these regulate cholesterol levels as well as the Omega-3 contributing to the good health of skin and eyes, lowering inflammation and promoting cognitive function.
Soya oil isn’t the best for using with high temperatures – save it for lightly sautéing meat and veg instead of roasting or frying. It also works well in strongly flavoured recipes, as its mild taste will complement punchy spices.
Another heart-healthy choice, sesame oil is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats regulates blood sugar, and polyunsaturated regulate blood pressure. It has a similar nutritional profile to olive oil, but the main difference is that sesame oil has its own unique taste which works extremely well with Asian recipes such as stir-fries.
If possible, go for cold pressed and unrefined sesame oil as both of these don’t use artificial processing methods, as well as retaining more flavour.