Cooking oils are commonly used in any household’s kitchen to prepare a variety of dishes, including vegetables, meat, eggs, and certain grain dishes. For this reason, a lot of people often focus on choosing a healthy oil.
A few cooking oils options are widely believed to be healthier than others. And today, there are more options than ever when it comes to alternatives and more health-minded cooking tools and ingredients. First and foremost, the “healthiness” of cooking oil is primarily dependent on how safe it is to consume after heating.
Cooking oils have various smoke points or temperatures at which they no longer remain stable. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t heat cooking oils above their smoke points. Here are four new cooking oil options that tolerate high heat cooking.
1. Coconut Oil
Some people will ask you to avoid coconut oil, while others will encourage you to embrace it in moderation. Unlike other plant-based oils, many find coconut oil’s high saturated fat content conflicting.
Coconut oil is primarily composed of saturated fats, and not everyone prefers consuming that sort of concentrated source of saturated fat and medium-chain triglycerides. However, not all saturated fats are bad for your health.
Made by pressing fresh or dried coconut meat, coconut oil remains firm at room temperature. Its smoke point ranges at 350°F for extra virgin or unrefined coconut oil and 450°F for refined coconut oil. Hence, they are ideal for quick sautéing or baking goods as they don’t do well at high heat temperatures.
Coconut oil has grown in popularity over the past few years thanks to its health benefits, including antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, weight-loss potential, and improved oral and skin health. However, it isn’t a miracle food, and it is best to use it in moderation.
2. Sesame Oil
Rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats but low in saturated fat, sesame oil is often used for its potent flavor. Though it doesn’t contain other nutrients, its higher smoking point (450°F) makes it an ideal option for high-heat recipes that involve sautéing and frying.
Expeller-pressed is considered the top-grade sesame oil as it is extracted from the seeds at a cooler temperature. The seeds are roasted before making toasted sesame oil, but the extraction process remains the same.
However, toasting the sesame seeds adds a lot of flavors, making it a perfect option for stir-frying.
When it comes to health benefits, sesame oil contains sesamol and sesamin—two powerful antioxidants. Additionally, sesame oil has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
The clarified form of butter, ghee, has been used in cooking for over a thousand years. Ghee is cooked a bit longer than butter which lets all the moisture evaporate, resulting in longer shelf life and a more potent flavor. A few people will tell you that ghee has a stronger, more “buttery” flavor than regular butter.
Perhaps, the best benefit of using ghee is that it has a high smoke point ranging at 485°F compared to butter’s smoke point at 350°F. Hence, it is ideal for cooking at higher temperatures without burning or smoking. You can substitute ghee for other fats like coconut oil, butter, avocado oil, olive oil, etc.
Furthermore, ghee contains fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and other antioxidants that promote immunity and skin health, and vitamin E helps fight free radicals and improves heart health. It also contains vitamin K that is important for bone health and normal blood clotting. The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) present in ghee has also been found to offer several health benefits, including reduced inflammation and decreased fat mass.
Like most fats, oils, and grease, you shouldn’t pour ghee down the drain as it can eventually result in a clogged drainpipe and an expensive grease trap cleaning. Instead, consider storing it in an airtight container for future use or pop it into the trash can to dispose of it.
4. Cold Pressed
Made by crushing oilseeds at room temperature without extra heat and chemicals, cold-pressed oils are considered healthier and nutritious compared to their hot-pressed counterparts.
Also, they have a relatively low acidic value and are rich in antioxidants, oleic acid, and vitamins, which boost immunity. Due to this reason, cold-pressed oils are widely embraced by people across the world.
Nonetheless, you should not expose cold-pressed oils to high heat. Instead, use them for cooking foods prepared on low to medium heat. Using these cooking oil options for deep frying results in the unsaturated fats breaking down and making the food unsafe for consumption.
Cook Safe With the Right Cooking Oil
The options are endless when it comes to cooking oils. Always consider using oils that maintain their stability when cooking dishes that involve high heat. Heating oils past their smoke point will result in harmful compounds that can be detrimental to your health.
The cooking oil options listed in this article are healthier and can withstand higher cooking temperatures. Additionally, they contain several antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids that offer various health benefits.