A Look At The Best Oil For Frying And Cooking – What Kind Of Oil Is It?

So What is The Best Oil For Frying And Cooking?

The question often asked is which oil is the best oil for frying?.  The most common answer is likely to be vegetable oil for most people.  The common consensus is that vegetable oils are healthier than animal fat such as lard or butter.  But is this true? In a test conducted in a university specifically with the fats, sunflower oil, vegetable oils, corn oil, cold pressed rapeseed oil, olive oil refined and extra virgin, butter and goose fat.

Samples of these oils were sent to a university pharmacy by the volunteer who took part in the testing. The findings of this test were that those oils that were rich in polyunsaturates such as sunflower oil and corn oil produced highest levels of aldehydes.

What Is An Aldehyde?

In layman’s terms basically when you are frying or cooking anything and the temperatures are as high as 180 Celsius or 356 Celsius, this alters the structure of the fat or the oil which means it changes.

When this happens oxidation takes place and it reacts with the oxygen that’s in the air and this forms Aldehydes and lipid peroxides.

Findings have shown that consuming or inhaling Aldehydes, even small amounts of them is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. You would probably be surprised to know that sunflower oil and corn oil were declare safe as long as they were not being heated, fried or cooked or used for cooking.

The test showed that Sunflower oil and Corn oil produced high levels of Aldehydes (Remember Aldehydes are produced when oils are heated high). The oils that produced less Aldehydes were olive oil, cold pressed rapeseed oil, butter and goose fat.

The reason for this is that these oils contain more monounsaturated fats and saturated fatty acids. And surprisingly enough these are more stable when heated. In-fact saturated fats are hardly affected so they produce very little oxidation at all.

The final recommendation from this test was that olive oil was good for frying and cooking because it contains less toxic compounds when heated.  And the compounds that were produced are far less threatening to the human body.

You may also be surprised to find out that the professor also recommended that frying in saturate rich animal fats for instance, butter is probably more preferable than frying using Sunflower or Corn oil because of its stability.

Professor Grootveld who headed up the experiment even said if he had the choice between lard which is animal fat and polyunsaturates (i.e. Sunflower oil and Corn oil ) he would use lard every time.  Despite the bad rap that lard gets about being unhealthy it is high in monounsaturated fats which is what allows it to remain less toxic when being heated.

Cooking Oil Uses

Cooking oil can be used for other purposes, such as being used in shortening usually to help give the pastry a crumbly texture. It can also be used to give texture, so for instance oil is sometimes added to food to help it stick together, it can be used for flavor too. There are oils that people actually add to their food to give it a flavor, these oils usually include olive oil, Avocado oil, sesame oil or almond oil as they specifically have a unique flavor to them.

Oil A Flavor Base

Oil can also be used as a flavor base, they can help carry the flavor of other ingredients in a dish because they have the ability to carry flavor because of their soluble nature. These are just some of the culinary uses of cooking oil, there are probably many more, but these are some of the most general uses (if you know of any more oil uses leave them in the comments section**).

What Are Vegetable Oils?

What cooking oils are best used for cooking?  This is a very technical question to answer but first let’s look at the different types of cooking oils.  The most common type of cooking oil that most people are familiar with is vegetable oil.

As the name suggests this is oil extracted from vegetables. Technical term for this extraction of the vegetable oil is triglyceride a process which has been used for thousands of years.  Normally most people would consider vegetable oil an oil that is liquid at room temperature.

When vegetable oils are solid at room temperature they are usually considered vegetable fats. For the most part vegetable oil is extracted from seeds, unfortunately the term vegetable oil found on packaging can be very deceptive. Often times to hide the fact that a less desirable vegetable is the oil being used, the generic term vegetable oil is specified as an ingredient.

Here are some of the most common pure vegetable oils to look out for rather than just the generic term ‘vegetable oil’, coconut oil, corn oil, cotton seed oil, canola oil, olive oil, palm oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil. So if you have ever wondered if canola oil is vegetable oil? The answer is, Yes! It is your responsibility to look at contents of the vegetable oil to determine what is being used.

What Kind Of Oil Is Best For What?

Here is a look at the most popular oils used today, where they come from, the best ways to use them and what you should avoid using them for.

1) – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Best Oil For Frying And Cooking image

This oil comes from the juices of crushed olives and it’s made without the use of chemicals and industry refining. In order for it to be labelled extra virgin it has to meet certain standards. The great thing about this oil is that it preserves its low level of folic acid, something ordinary olive oil does not. It also has a lot more of its natural vitamins and minerals which are found in actual olives.

What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Best Used For?

This oil is best used for salad dressings and drizzling over foods such as pasta or when baking. You should avoid using this oil for frying at high temperatures due to the fact that it has a lower smoking point.

2) – Olive Oil

This is made from pressed whole olives, it’s a blend of virgin olive oil together with refined oil.  Refined oil is basically oil which has been extracted with the help of heat or chemicals which are responsible for removing any of the flaws found in the fruit. Pure olive oil is generally a lower quality oil than extra virgin olive oil and it also has a lighter color.

What Is Olive Oil Best Used For?

Its folic acid is around 3-4% and it is a good oil for all purpose cooking. This oil is best used when you are doing light frying and as a salad dressing, it can also be used for baking too so it is the best olive oil for cooking. You should avoid using this oil for high temperature frying though.

3) – Rapeseed Oil

rapeseed oil image

This oil is taken from rapeseed.

What Is Rapeseed Oil Best Used For?

The positives about this oil are, unlike olive oil it does not become toxic at high heat levels.  For this reason it is considered more suitable for frying by some health professionals. This is considered a good oil for roasting potatoes and frying. You should avoid using it for drizzling over food before tasting as it is not everybody’s cup of tea.

4) – Lard

Lard image

This oil is made of fatty deposits from pigs or beef.

What Is Lard Best Used For?

It is a great oil for high temperature frying and baking. It is not so good where high temperatures are not involved.

5) – Ghee

ghee image

This is made from boiled butter after it’s churned with cream.

What Is Ghee Best Used For?

It is best for high temperature frying and it’s not so good when not being used for high temperatures.

6) – Goose or Duck Fat

duck goose fat image

It is made from the fat which is drained from cooked goose or duck.

What Is Goose or Duck Fat Best Used For?

This is a good oil for high temperature frying and roasting your potatoes, it is not so good when high temperatures are not involved.

7) – Sunflower Oil

sunflower oil image

This is extracted from sunflower seeds

What Is Sunflower Oil Best Used For?

A common question is, is sunflower oil healthy? Current research has suggested that it should be avoided for cooking or frying at high temperatures, although it does have heart health benefits when not heated. So, to answer the question Sunflower Oil is healthy when it’s not heated.

8) – Vegetable Oil

vegetable oils

This is made from seeds such as soybean, corn, sunflower and safflower.

What Is Vegetable Oil Best Used For?

Again research has shown that this oil should be avoided and it should not be used at high temperatures for frying.

9) – Coconut Oil

coconut oil image

This is made from the oils of coconut when it is smoked dried, sun-dried or kiln dried. The dry meat of a coconut is called copra.

What Is Coconut Oil Best Used For?

This oil is good for high temperature frying and baking.  This oil may not be so good when drizzling it over your food especially if you don’t like the taste of coconut.

10) – Almond Oil

Almond oil image

This oil is made from Almonds

What Is Almond Oil Best Used For?

There are two types of Almond oil either bitter or sweet varieties. Bitter oil is used more for cooking and almond-flavored liqueur, it contains cyanide, so it’s not advisable to consume too much.

Sweet Almonds don’t have cyanide in them, so are much safer to consume.

Nutrition: This oil contains vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, proteins, fiber, calcium and magnesium.

Oil Flash Point And Smoking Point Explained

  • Flash Point

Flash point is the lowest temperature at which a liquid can form an ignitable mixture in air near the surface of the liquid. The lower the flash point, the easier it is to ignite the material.

For example, gasoline has a flash point of approximately -40 degrees C (-40 F) and is more flammable than ethylene glycol (antifreeze) which has a flash point of 111 degrees C (232 F) in closed cup tests.

  • Smoking Point

The smoke point refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down. The substance smokes or burns, and gives food an unpleasant taste.

Which means the lower the flash point and smoking point the less stable a cooking oil will be to cook with.

Here is a list of some of the smoke points of different cooking oils:

Cooking Oils / FatsSmoke Point °CSmoke Point °F
flaxseed oil107°C225°F
sunflower oil107°C225°F
corn oil160°C320°F
high-oleic sunflower oil160°C320°F
Extra virgin olive oil160°C320°F
Peanut oil160°C320°F
Safflower oil160°C320°F
Soy oil160°C320°F
Walnut oil160°C320°F
Hemp seed oil165°C330°F
Canola oil177°C350°F
Coconut oil177°C350°F
Soy oil177°C350°F
Macadamia nut oil199°C390°F
Refined canola oil204°C400°F
Sesame oil210°C410°F
Grapeseed oil216°C420°F
Virgin olive oil216°C420°F
Almond oil216°C420°F
Hazelnut oil221°C430°F
Peanut oil227°C440°F
Sunflower oil227°C440°F
Refined corn oil232°C450°F
Palm oil232°C450°F
Rice Bran Oil254°C490°F
Avocado oil271°C520°F

Avocado Oil Cooking? Have You Tried It?

avocado oil image

Avocado has a buttery feel and taste to it. It also has lots of mono and saturated fat and this type of fat is considered healthy as it is able to improve cholesterol numbers. Within this fat you can also find gluten which is an antioxidant which helps to improve eyes.

Studies in Ohio State University came to the conclusion that this oil can also improve the potency of salads by increasing absorption of the fat soluble antioxidants like Beta Carotene which are found in vegetables. This oil has a very high smoking point as high as 520 degrees which makes it very versatile and good for high heat cooking such as grilling and pan roasting, which makes avocado oil good for cooking. You can also add it to salads and as a garnish for soups or you can drizzle it over other foods such as crusty bread or some water melon.

Avocado oil seems to be an unknown oil for many people, but all studies show that it is the healthiest oil to cook with. Other benefits that can be derived from it are the ability to reduce inflammation and cellular damage as well as boosting antioxidant absorption by as much as 400%. It is also known to be able to decrease body fat specifically belly fat and it protects the liver.

Avocado oil has the ability to lower LDL levels it also protects cholesterol. Many people think cholesterol is the problem but healthy cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, heart disease is caused by damage or oxidized cholesterol. This type of cholesterol can increase the risk of dangerous internal build ups that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

References And Articles To Read:


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