Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Peanut oil, there is a lot of oil on the grocery store shelf. But which are best for cooking with?
Olive Oil is all the rage right now. They say it is the healthier oil and should be your go to oil for cooking with. But is it?
To answer this question it is best to first understand the differences between the oils. Oils are composed of fat. There are three types of fat, monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated.
Saturated fats, such as coconut oil, are extremely stable because each carbon bond is occupied by a hydrogen bond. Saturated fats are solid or semisolid at room temperature. They are ideal cooking fats because of their stability, they do not easily go rancid when heated during cooking or form free radicals that contribute to heart disease and cancer.
Polyunsaturated fats such as corn, flaxseed and hemp oil, possess more than one carbon-carbon double bond and not every carbon bond has a hydrogen atom attached to it. They are liquid at room temperature and remain so even if refrigerated. These fats are highly reactive when heated or processed in any way. Even simple exposure to the air or light can cause rancidity in fairly short periods of time.
Monounsaturated fats, such as olive, sesame and avocado oil have a single carbon-carbon double bond, and like polyunsaturated fats, not every carbon bond has a hydrogen atom attached. They are liquid at room temperature and become solid when refrigerated. Monounsaturated fats do not go rancid as easily as polyunsaturated fats, but are not as stable as saturated fats.
When cooking at high heat with oils it is best to use oils with saturated fats. I recommend coconut oil to all of my clients as the oil adds nice flavour to most vegetables and meats.
Polyunsaturated fats should be avoided for all high heat cooking as they are easily damaged and the free electrons (or free radicals) can cause harm to our bodies.
In regards to Olive Oil specifically, I recommend avoiding it when cooking with high temperatures. But use it in salads, on breads, and in dips.