Which healthy oils are the best? A simple glance down the aisles in the supermarket, can leave anyone a little dizzy and confused. I took a trip to my local supermarket yesterday and did a quick count and found 22 different types of cooking oils available to buy. With this in mind, lets look at the healthiest oils available. Add a little research and science and we shorten our list of options significantly.
Coconut oil is by far the most hyped and trendy of oils of recent time. Although slowly fading from a trend perspective, its being kept afloat as more science is released. It seems of late that saturated fats aren’t as bad for us as we originally thought and so coconut oil has remained a popular choice.
Digestion — Coconut oil’s concentration of beneficial fats make it helpful for digestion. It’s antimicrobial properties can help fight irritation and infection in the gut.
Immune Support — The MCTs (including lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid) have anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it beneficial for immune support.
Uses in cooking — Coconut oil is a stable oil that doesn’t break down easily at high temperatures like other oils do. It doesn’t go rancid easily and has amazing nutritional properties. It is great for cooking eggs, stir fries, grain free baked goods, and practically any other cooking use.
“Coconut oil temporarily increases metabolic rate and the speed at which fats are broken down to release fatty acids, a process known as lipolysis…Adding coconut oil to a diet is unlikely to cause noticeable fat loss effects, but it can replace other dietary fatty acids in order to fine-tune a diet plan” (1)
A classic oil used all over the world, in a variety of dishes and for 100’s of years. A good staple oil to use and for good reason. We have a few options available under the olive oil umbrella and knowing which type is right for the task at hand is key to optimal health.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil — Best drizzled over food that has already been prepared, as its low smoke point means heating can cause toxicity and denature the goodness and flavour of the product. Save this one for the middle of the dinner table.
Virgin Olive Oil — Best used for cooking at lower temperature, at 200 degrees centigrade or less
Light/Extra Light Olive Oils — These have a much higher smoke point of up to 350 degrees centigrade and this can be used in a much wider variety of cooking e,g. frying, baking etc. The only negative here is the lower quality of taste and depth compared to its Extra Virgin counterpart.
“Antioxidants are believed to be responsible for a number of olive oil's biological activities. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, has shown activity in cancer prevention. Olive oil consumption has benefit for colon and breast cancer prevention. The oil has been widely studied for its effects on coronary heart disease (CHD), specifically for its ability to reduce blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol…” (2)
Black Seed Oil
Another new entry to the list of contenders, and a strong one at that. Research has shown that black seed oil (extracted from Black Cumin Seeds AKA Nigella Sativa) has many health benefits (3) including:
…and, to be honest, many many more! Although hard to come by in your local supermarket, some retailers do sell them - otherwise you can purchase online. Very keen to see how well this healthy oil new comer performs.
Although very popular and touted as a great option for those following a lower calorie diet plan, Fry Light is an option that again shows its own long list of complicated choices. Available in butter form, olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil to name just a few. Cooking with Fry Light is beneficial if you tend to go crazy and over guesstimate your oil use like an excited Jamie Oliver!
However, if you have self control and understand that less is more, then using conventional single form oils as mentioned above is best. Fry Light contains added emulsifier, sunflower lecithin, alcohol, flavourings and thickeners. I don’t know about you but I'm a huge fan of keeping food as it should be and as natural as possible. The more ingredients the harder it is for your body to process. Also the coconut oil version of Fry Light contains a disappointing 12% Coconut Oil. Not for me this one!
References: (1) https://examine.com/supplements/coconut-oil/
Written by Oliver Clarke
Ollie is a an Ex-Head Chef, Personal Trainer, Nutritionist and owner of Type One Fitness. He is a huge foodie and brings some exciting ideas, healthy recipes and the latest research on health and wellness. www.typeonefitness.co.uk