top of page
Search

Decoding the best cooking oils: A comprehensive guide

By Milvia Pili, DLN, FNTP, Dip AIT, Dip LCLI, LCS


The world of cooking oils can be confusing. With so many options available, it's hard to know which oils are best for our health and culinary needs. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on three popular choices: olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. We'll delve into their nutritional profiles, health benefits, culinary uses, and tips for choosing high-quality options.



The downside of vegetable seed oils

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room: vegetable seed oils like corn, soybean, and sunflower oil. While these oils are often touted as healthy alternatives, they come with a downside. They're high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, when consumed in excess, can lead to inflammation, increased free radicals, DNA damage, and a higher risk of certain cancers.

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for our health, but the key is to maintain a balanced ratio with omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, the modern Western diet tends to be overly rich in omega-6, tipping the balance and contributing to various health issues.


The power of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)

Now, let's turn our attention to the stars of this guide: olive oil and avocado oil. Both are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), a type of fat that's stable for cooking and offers numerous health benefits.

MUFA protects our cell DNA, boosts mitochondrial energy production, strengthens immune function, and supports heart health. Research has shown that diets rich in MUFA can reduce the risk of heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, and help manage blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Additionally, MUFA supports blood vessel health, lowers blood pressure, and aids in diabetes management. They've even been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer.


Antioxidant richness

In addition to their healthy fats, avocado and olive oils are packed with antioxidants. These compounds, including chlorophyll, carotenoids, and polyphenols, combat free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Polyphenols, in particular, have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They also help protect our cells from oxidative damage, which can accelerate ageing and contribute to chronic diseases.


Olive oil vs avocado oil: A closer look

Olive oil has been a staple in Mediterranean diets for thousands of years and is renowned for its health benefits. It's rich in oleic acid, a type of MUFA that's particularly beneficial for heart health.

Avocado oil, on the other hand, is extracted from avocados, which are themselves nutritional powerhouses. Avocado oil has a similar fatty acid profile to olive oil but offers some distinct health advantages. It's rich in vitamins E and K, both of which play crucial roles in our health.

For optimal benefits, choose first-pressed, cold-processed oils. Oils processed with heat or chemicals can lose some of their health advantages and develop harmful compounds.


Cooking with olive and avocado oils

Both olive and avocado oils are excellent choices for cooking. Olive oil is suitable for low- to medium-heat cooking, while avocado oil can handle higher temperatures, making it ideal for frying and grilling.

It's worth noting that the smoke point of an oil, the temperature at which it starts to break down and produce harmful compounds, is an important consideration when choosing an oil for cooking. Both olive and avocado oils have relatively high smoke points, making them versatile options for various cooking methods.


Choosing authentic oils

With so many options available, it can be challenging to choose high-quality oils. To ensure you're getting the best, opt for 'Extra Virgin' olive oil and cold-pressed avocado oil. Look for quality seals, check harvest dates, and avoid oils in clear glass bottles to prevent oxidation.


The unique benefits of coconut oil

Coconut oil is a bit of an outlier in the world of cooking oils. While it's predominantly saturated fat, it's unique in that it contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), specifically lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid.

These MCFAs offer quick energy, aid in fat burning, and have been linked to various health benefits. Research suggests that coconut oil can boost heart health, enhance brain function, and support digestive health. It's also been shown to have antimicrobial properties, making it beneficial for oral health and fighting infections.


Incorporating oils into your diet

Now that we've explored the benefits of olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil, you might be wondering how to incorporate them into your diet. The good news is that each oil has its own unique flavour and culinary uses, making it a versatile addition to your kitchen.

Olive oil is perfect for salad dressings, drizzling over cooked vegetables, and adding flavour to dishes. Avocado oil's mild flavour and high smoke point make it great for frying, grilling, and baking. Coconut oil's subtle coconut flavour works well in both sweet and savoury dishes, from curries to cookies.


Final thoughts

All three oils – olive, avocado, and coconut – offer unique health benefits, flavours, and culinary uses. Incorporating these oils into your diet can diversify your nutrient intake, enhance your culinary creations, and support your overall health.

It's a good idea to have all three oils on hand and start using them regularly to reap their distinct health advantages. By doing so, you'll not only elevate your cooking but also boost your health in the process.

I hope this comprehensive guide clarifies the oil issue for you. I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you.


To your health,

Milvia

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page