Oil is a hot discussion topic of late. But what most people don’t realize is that the best type of oil to use depends heavily on what you are using it for. When you are cooking, it’s best to use oils that resist oxidation. When oils are exposed to oxygen and heat they form free radicals- harmful compounds that you don’t want to consume. Saturated fats (like those found in animal fats and coconut oil) are best for higher heat cooking because the type of chemical bonds they contain are not as reactive to heat. Thats why we usually recommend extra virgin coconut oil for stovetop cooking. Ghee, clarified butter, can also be great for high heat cooking. The naturally occurring sugars and proteins found in real butter are cooked out, so ghee doesn’t burn as quickly when cooked at a high temperature. Ghee is gaining in popularity and can be found at many major grocery stores. Monounsaturated fats (like those found predominately in olive oil and avocados) can also be used for cooking. Avocado oil is great for high heat cooking because of it’s high smoke point and heat stability, olive oil is best for more moderate heat cooking, and extra virgin should be saved for salad dressing. Polyunsaturated fats (like those found in flaxseed or fatty fish) should be avoided at high heats. This also includes nut oils, like walnut and peanut, that should can be used for salad dressings. Most vegetable oils, like canola, corn, and soybean, are highly processed and should be avoided. Keep an eye out for them as additives in packaged food and in combination cooking oils also. Store oils in a cool, dry, dark place to help avoid them going rancid.
With all that being said, remember that all fats are very caloric and while they offer some great health benefits, should be eaten in moderation. Thats why we love oil sprays (especially for those on VLCD) to add flavor without too many calories. Different oils offer different health benefits, so think about choosing your fat based on what you are using it for, and reap all the different benefits these wonderful fats have to offer.