Body In Balance
Almost everything can be healthy in moderation, and oil is no exception. The US government recommends a daily dose of 5 to 7 teaspoons of oil per 2,000 calories. Women should only have up to 6 teaspoons daily, which is equivalent to 2 tablespoons, and men can have slightly more at up to 7 teaspoons.
But not all oils are created equal. Some are better for cooking than others, and certain oils are better suited to specific kinds of cooking. Moreover, not all oils are healthy to consume, even in moderation.
What is the best oil for stir fry vs. deep frying vs. roasting? We will break down the best oils for each cooking method in this guide, so read on to know which oils you should keep on hand in your pantry.
What Makes a Healthy Cooking Oil?
A healthy cooking oil is minimally processed and contains low amounts of 'bad' fats- saturated and trans fats. It can also withstand high temperatures without breaking down into unhealthy compounds.
Why are these factors important when choosing a cooking oil? Find out next.
A High Smoke Point
At high temperatures, oil particles begin to break down. This process releases free radicals and toxins into your home and food. Chronic exposure to these substances can increase your risk of certain health conditions.
You can avoid this risk by using oils that do not break down during the cooking process. These oils have a high smoke point, or the point at which the oil becomes unstable and starts to burn.
Processed oils are also known as refined oils. One of the results of the oil refinement process is reduced nutrient composition (more on this next). Additionally, processing may involve unhealthy chemical solvents.
At the same time, refined olive and avocado oils have higher smoke points than their unrefined counterparts, whose flavor molecules burn at lower temperatures. The right balance is essential for picking a healthy cooking oil.
The Nutrient Composition
Limiting your oil intake can improve your health, but cutting oils out completely may do the opposite. Oils derived from natural sources (e.g., vegetables and seeds) contain essential nutrients our bodies need to survive and thrive.
Of these nutrients, monounsaturated fats may be the healthiest. Oils and other foods high in these 'good' unsaturated fats may lower the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases and reduce the risk of the oil breaking down when heated.
The Best Oil for Stir Fry: Avocado Oil
Stir-frying requires an oil with a very high smoke point, as cooking temperatures may reach over 400°F.
Peanut, soybean, and refined sesame oils can be good choices since they have high smoke points and pack a flavor punch. But if you are searching for the best oil for stir-frying, look no further than avocado oil.
Avocado Oil Smoke Point
Avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points of any cooking oil on the market. Refined avocado oil can reach temperatures of up to 520°F before it starts to break down.
Avocado Oil Processing
Avocado oil requires processing to filter the liquid fat from the avocado solids. Always look for a product that is naturally refined (i.e., cold-pressed and/or chemical-free) to avoid harmful chemicals.
Avocado Oil Nutrient Composition
Like the fruit it comes from, avocado oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats (oleic acid, in particular). Avocado oil is also an excellent source of vitamin E, which has antioxidant effects.
The Best Oil for Deep Frying: Canola Oil
Deep frying requires an oil with a smoke point over 350°F to 375°F. Occasionally, a recipe may call for higher temperatures, usually up to 400 °F.
Peanut oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, and light olive oil are all excellent for deep frying. However, these oils are expensive, especially in the amounts needed for deep frying. When it comes to affordability, canola oil takes the cake.
Canola Oil Smoke Point
With its 435°F smoke point, canola oil may not have the highest smoke point on the market. Still, it is well-suited to even the highest deep-frying temperatures.
Canola Oil Processing
Canola oil is a type of seed oil made from the seeds of the rapeseed plant. It is traditionally processed using chemicals and heat, but research has found that they are not a significant risk factor for poor health.
Canola Oil Nutrient Composition
A reason to consider canola oil, despite it being highly processed, is its nutrient composition. Canola oil contains a very low level of unhealthy saturated fats and is rich in unsaturated fats and cholesterol-reducing phytosterols.
The Best Oil for Roasting: Olive Oil
There are two types of roasting: slow roasting and high-heat roasting. Slow roasting takes place at 325°F or 350°F, while high-heat roasting requires temperatures of 400°F or higher.
Olive oil is the best choice, whether you're slow roasting or cooking your food at a higher temperature.
Olive Oil Smoke Point
Most people are more familiar with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), but this oil is not suited for roasting at temperatures over 374°F. Refined light olive oil is the better choice, with a smoke point of around 450°F.
Olive Oil Processing
Extra virgin olive oil is cold pressed. To convert it into light olive oil, manufacturers apply heat and use chemicals. If you want to avoid the chemicals, you can reach for EVOO when roasting at 350°F.
Olive Oil Nutrient Composition
Olive oil is an excellent source of a type of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid and other heart-healthy nutrients. It is also rich in the antioxidants vitamin E, oleocanthal, and oleuropein.
These Are the Healthiest Cooking Oils
The best oil for stir fry is avocado oil. It has the highest smoke point, is relatively unprocessed, and contains beneficial antioxidants and fatty acids.
Meanwhile, canola oil and olive oil should be your go-to for deep frying and roasting, respectively. They are excellent sources of unsaturated fats and have smoke points high enough to withstand the heat.
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