As of late, have you heard anyone telling you the health hazards of cooking with certain oils? Considering the fact that more and more people are becoming health conscious and want to be more aware of what they’re consuming, many overlook the overall the key ingredient used in nearly every household on the planet; oil! There are many articles online advising “healthy” oils to cook with and stating the many benefits that come with cooking with these oils, but they fail to mention what happens when you actually cook with and/or heat your oils. While most people don’t have the slightest concern about which oils they cook with, others do because they know that certain hazards come with certain oils especially when they are heated beyond their smoke point. The consequences of heating oils can cause more harm to the body than what is being told and unfortunately, most commonly used oils cannot stand to high heat. All oils can withstand certain levels of heat but once that level is exceeded, the oil begins to lose its nutritional value and begins to produce free radicals. All these risks can be avoided by choosing an oil suitable for your cooking methods.
Here's a list of oils you should AVOID cooking with and why!
Canola oil is actually made from the rapeseed plant which is part of the mustard family. The name of canola oil was originally LEAR (Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed) but for marketing purposes was changed to canola oil. This word was derived from the combination of “Canada” and “ola,” meaning oil. It was either "Rape Oil" or "Canola" and "Canola" it became. It works well as an industrial oil, not a food, and has been used in candles, soaps, lipsticks, lubricants, inks, biofuels and even insecticides. Heating this oil can lead to additional concerns, like that in the 1980's when manufacturers came up with a method to genetically modify the rapeseed plant by seed splitting which produced a canola oil with higher amounts of oleic acid and less erucic acid, which lead to blood platelet abnormalities, retards normal growth (which is why it's illegal to use in infant formulas), free radical damage, and higher cancer risks due to the hydrogenation process.
Leave your olive oil cold and unheated. Do NOT cook with Olive oil. This has to do with the molecular structure of oils. Saturated fats contain no double bonds so are not sensitive to heat, light or oxygen, unlike unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) have double bonds, making them very sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. Heating these types of oils will change their molecular structure, destroying many of the healthy properties.
Olive oil is made up of about 70-80% monounsaturated fat, in the form of oleic acid. This oleic acid is what gives olive oil many of it’s wonderful health benefits like improved insulin resistance, cancer-fighting properties, and improved heart health. It is also these monounsaturated fats that give olive oil a low smoking point, making it unsuitable for temperatures above 250’F (121’C).
Olive oil contains both Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids. According to Dr. Mercola, omega-3 fats are “significant structural components of the cell membranes of tissues throughout the body and are especially rich in the retina, brain, and sperm, in which docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) constitutes 36.4% of total fatty acids”. These fatty acids are sensitive to heat and are destroyed when olive oil is heated.
Vegetable oils contain very high levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). But did you know that the fat content of the human body is about 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat? Our body needs fat for rebuilding cells and hormone production. And it can only use what we give it. Polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and they oxidize easily. These oxidized fats cause inflammation and mutation in cells. That oxidation is linked to all sorts of issues from cancer, heart disease, endometriosis, PCOS, etc. PUFAs are bad news. Vegetable oils contain a very high concentration of Omega 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids oxidize easily especially once heated.
Leave your coconut oil cold and unheated. Although coconut oil is often promoted as a healthy oil, it is also very high in saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and raised cholesterol. The health hazards of coconut oil stem from the fact that it is packed with saturated fats. In fact, 82 percent of coconut oil is comprised of saturated fats, far more than in regular butter (63), olive oil (14), peanut oil (17), and sunflower oil (10). Saturated fat, unlike others, can raise the amount of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, which increases your risk of contracting heart disease in the future and exceeding the smoke point will only cause more internal damage. Coconut oil is best used cold, unheated, oil pulling, dressings and/or for cosmetic use.
Suggested Oils To Cook With
Grapeseed oil, which has a smoke point of 420F, has two broad categories of use- either culinary, or cosmetic. Regardless of the type you use (either food grade or not), grapeseed can likely benefit you in some manner or the other. Grapeseed oil helps manage your blood pressure, boosts the immune system, may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, lowers cholesterol, reduces swelling, balances testosterone levels, and reduces the risk of cancer.
Use avocado oil for high temperature cooking because it has the highest smoke point by comparison to other cooking oils. It will not burn or smoke until it reaches 520 F (271 C), which is ideal for frying and sautéing. Benefits of using avocado oil include it reduces cholesterol and improves heart health, reduces symptoms of arthritis, reduces the risk of gum disease, neutralizes free radicals, and functions as an antioxidant that benefits eye health.
Sesame oil has a smoke point of 410F and it's rich in mono- and polyunsaturated acids which cuts cholesterol. It is also low in saturated fats -- the kind of fat that's bad for you. And there's more. Sesame oil contains two unique chemicals called sesamol and sesamin which are very powerful antioxidants that helps lower blood pressure.
The smoke point of cooking oils vary amongst each oil. The more refined an oil, the higher its smoke point, because refining removes impurities and free fatty acids that can cause the oil to smoke. If you want to learn the smoke point for other oils, please click here.