Which oil is best?

When it comes to cooking most of us use a little oil or fat here and there. Oil or fat is important to keep the food moist, add flavour or prevent from sticking. There are better oils or fats than other though to add to your diet. Fat is important as it helps the absorption of fat soluble vitamins like D, E, K, A from our foods, keeps our cells healthy and can increase our beneficial HDL cholesterol to name a few. Oils do have a higher calorie content than protein or carbohydrates 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram, so moderation is the key. To put in context, 1 Tb of oil is equivalent to a 120g steak fillet. So although adding nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado etc to salads or baking can be great for your health, it may not be for your waistline or may slow down weight loss. So again, a little fat is healthy but measure what you add.

However when it comes to cooking or baking here is the low down;

Baking:

Avoid margarine or any ‘hydrogenated vegetable’ oil. Anything hydrogenated means its chemical structure has been changed and it can make the fatty layer of your cells very rigid so it makes it much harder for nutrients and other important chemicals to pass in and out of the cell. Luckily most of our butter substitutes or spreads in New Zealand have an extremely low trans fat content. A benefit is that their calorie content is slightly lower due it’s higher water content and the saturated fat content is lower. This can be a better option if you are adding refined flours or sugars to your baking. Having a sugar & saturated fat combo isn’t the best for your arteries. Try go savoury. My pick for baking is going for a natural butter & vegetable oil spread e.g. Anchor, coconut oil, or use peanut butter as fat substitute. 


Frying:

Cold pressed olive is one of the best oils to maintain a healthy heart, however olive oil can’t withstand high heat so it’s great for sauteing onions or lightly pan frying/ grilling fish or roasting vegetables under 200 degrees in the oven. However you don’t want to be using it for a hot stir-frying where it exposed to high heats. 

Rice bran oil can withstand higher heat and does have some health benefits with being tested to reduce cholesterol levels and has antioxidants, but it does have a high omega-6 content to omega 3 ratio, which can be detrimental to health if used excessively. A high consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are also found in most types of vegetable oils (sunflower, safflower, canola and corn oils), may increase risk of inflammation and other metabolic disorders. Especially as most are not cold pressed but chemically extracted using solvents and high heat. Aim to get a cold pressed rice bran oil. Avocado oil or macadamia oil are also great oils to fry with along with cold pressed coconut oil. As with all fats, you want to use sparingly anyway. Only need a tsp per person.  


Flavour - these are generally not good for cooking with (e.g. on the bottom of the pan) but great for tossing through to add flavour and health properties

Sesame seed oil- great for adding to the end of your cooking e.g. turning the heat down after stir-frying or toss through salads. Adds a wonderful sweetness

Linseed or flaxseed oil. One of the best oils you can add to your diet due to its high omega 3 content which is excellent for anti-inflammatory properties, brain health, joint health and overall cellular health. It has a higher omega 3 content than olive oil. A great brand is Waihi Bush or if you like infused then go for Totally Kiwi, they have a an amazing range of infused oils.

Cold pressed olive oil again can really make a salad or add flavour to a dish, especially with a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice! 


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