We have been cooking with different kinds of oil for hundreds if not thousands of years. Some cuisines like cooking with a lot of olive oil, some with Canola Oil, or sunflower oil and some with soy oil to name a few. Regardless if we are using oil to fry food with or use it in soups or use it while we bake food, there are few things that we need to be aware about oil.
When oil heats up it starts to smoke. The point at which the oil starts to smoke is called the smoke point. Some oils reach that smoke point sooner then others depending on the oil and its properties. The smoke point is usually in the vicinity of 225F to 350F. When oil heats up to its smoke point, you have definitely inflicted a lot of damage to that oil.
Damaging the Nutrients in Oil
- Heating causes loss of available nutrients in oils. It also looses its characteristic color, smell and taste. Those are damaged once oil reaches its smoke point.
- Heating oils can cause the formation of free radicals, highly reactive molecules that can damage the oil further by triggering unwanted oxidative reactions.
- Formation of unwanted aromatic substances (like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) can increase the risk of health problems including cancer!
- There is additional damage that takes place way before oils even reach smoke point!
So how should we cook?
If you are looking for the healthiest possible way to cook your organic super food, do not use oil while you cook. That means you should not be frying food, and you should not be baking food. The healthiest way to cook your organic products is steaming your food or Saute your food without oils. Use oil once the food is cooked, this way the oil will not be damaged, it will taste great and your overall dish will be a lot healthier. Please make sure you read the upcoming articles on how to properly steam or Saute food that way the nutrients are not damaged!
What if we have to use oil in cooking, which oil is the least damaging to our health?
If you absolutely have to use oil to fry things, use oils that have more monounsaturated fat then usual and less polyunsaturated fat then usual. Olive oil is a better choice although frying will damage the valuable polyphenols in the olive oil. Corn oil is a worst choice for frying then olive oil. Another option would be oils in high-oleic like high-oleic sunflower or safflower that should be better able to the higher heat and does not have the same polyphenol levels as olive oil.