OILS

Learn about oils and how to use them in a healthy way.

I see many famous chef's burn butter or olive oil in their skillet then lay a raw angus stake over it and proceed to fry the meat. The unfortunate thing about caramelization, grilling, frying, toasting or making charbroiled food is that we are changing the chemical makeup of the oil by oxidizing it, rendering it inflammatory to our bodies. In fact when we surpass the smoke point of any oil, whether processed oils or oils found in foods we may expose to high heat, we create what are called Reactive Oxidative Species (ROS), these ROS's cause DNA damage which is the preliminary step towards a change for the worst in cell structure and function leading to things like cancer. Another chemical called Advanced Glycated End Products (AGE) literally do what they acronym states, they make us age! AGE's are harmful compounds that are formed when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. This process is called glycation. 

Fortunately, your body has mechanisms to eliminate these harmful compounds, including those involving antioxidant and enzymatic activity. When you consume too many AGEs — or too many form spontaneously — your body can’t keep up with eliminating them. Thus, they accumulate. While low levels are generally nothing to worry about, high levels have been shown to cause oxidative stress and inflammation.

What oils you should and shouldn't use for cooking:

Oils or fats with higher smoke points are ideal for cooking and baking. The higher the smoke point, the higher heat you can use to cook the particular ingredient which may need higher heat. If you see smoke, even if it does not smell burnt, coming off the pan, you have surpassed the smoke point and have created a pro-inflmmatory oil, which when consumed causes inflammation in the body. 

I am also against the use of seed oils as they may be culprits to gallbladder stones and are pro-inflammatory and sensitive to oxidation. Seeds can carry toxins to protect themselves, which transfers over to us when we ingest them. Research on this front has been lazy.

You also want to reduce saturated fat consumption which comes from animal fats and coconut oil (typically high smoke points). Especially if you have been told by your doctor you have high cholesterol. Very small amounts of coconut oil/ cream or milk seldomly is healthy for you in a balanced diet. 

Stay away from any oil that says "refined". This makes the oil more shelf stable and raises the smoke point but has poor cardiovascular health implications.

The best oil to cook with in my opinion is avocado oil, with a smoke point of 500-520 F. Make sure you always use oils stored in a dark glass container and are storing it away from the sun or heat in a cool place. Investing in such oils is extremely beneficial to your health and well-being. 

I personally do not cook with olive oil unless what I am cooking requires very low heat. I prefer to use it off the stove. Olive oils' smoke points is: 320-350 F and if refined, which you shouldn't be using anyway, the smoke point is: 440-470 F. ​

Coconut oil has a smoke point between 350-360 F, and can be used seldomly for cooking or if you want this particular flavour once in a while in your dish.