So let’s take a look at the healthy and not-so-healthy oils:
Bye bye bad oils
Let’s start with the oils to avoid. What makes an oil ‘bad’? Some become unstable during the cooking process, others contain nasty chemicals, and others add no flavour but plenty of heart-hurting cholesterol.
Here are some oils to skip:
- Cheap blended oils: Those common vegetable blend oils found on the supermarket shelves are cheap for a reason. They’re often made using lots of different unknown oil varieties and packed with potentially harmful chemicals. No-one wants that with their lamb chops!
- Polyunsaturated oils: While not as common in Australia, avoid any polyunsaturated oil like corn and soybean oil, because they don’t do well under heat and are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. Be aware that many vegetable oils contain soybean.
- Chemical mixes: Some oils are extracted using traditional and natural techniques. These are the ones to buy; not those that have used a chemical extraction process. It pays to read the label carefully before buying.
Hello healthy oils
Now let’s get to the good oils! Here are some of the best oils to cook with and eat often:
- Coconut oil: This is the definitive winner for a healthy, all-purpose oil. As well as making a fabulous hair mask and being used for skin conditions, coconut oil is perfect when cooking. It’s incredibly heat resistant, thanks to almost 100% of the fatty acids in coconut oil being saturated. It’s also packed with lauric acid to control cholesterol, and can help you feel fuller for longer.
- Good ol’ olive oil: There’s a reason why olive oil has never been in the bad books – it’s a stable, heat resistant oil that is incredibly versatile. Cook with it or drizzle it on salad or a simple snack (think avocado on toast with cracked pepper and a touch of olive oil). It also balances cholesterol, and has plenty of anti-ageing antioxidants. Look for extra virgin olive oil as it provides the biggest health benefits.
- Avocado oil: This light monounsaturated oil is lovely in salads as well as cooking over a high heat.
- Sunflower oil: Like avocado oil, sunflower oil doesn’t have a strong taste so it can be used raw as a dressing. It also have loads of vitamin E, which is excellent news for your skin.
- Fish oil: Most of us need more omega-3 fatty acids for good health. So stock up on fish oil – just one tablespoon a day will do. Take it in tablet form, but never cook with it as it becomes highly unstable when heated.
Other awesome oils to indulge in are flax, grapeseed, canola, and sesame oil.