Many people believe that oils (like fats) are bad for you. However, some oils are essential for good health. It is the quantity you use that needs to be monitored as well as the type of oil you are using.
All oils are made up of a mixture of saturated, trans, poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats. Mono and poly-unsaturated fats are considered to be ‘good’ fats as they lower the total cholesterol levels and increase the good cholesterol (HDL). Saturated and trans fats do the opposite, they raise the total blood cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol (LDL). So it’s very important to look for oils that are high mono and poly-unsaturated fats and low in saturated and trans fat (better still, avoid using them).
We all need a small amount of fat in our daily diet. The recommended daily intake varies for each individual depending on gender, age and activity levels and is between 40-60 grams per day. Unfortunately many people are consuming alot more than this, 80-100 grams a day.
- Provides a concentrated source of energy
- Is essential for growth and good health
- Protects our vital organs
- Provides heat insulation
- Transports fat-soluble vitamins and anti-oxidants around the body
- Helps form the structure of cell membranes.
- However, any excess will be stored as fat.
Each type of oil has it’s own uses, it is not a ‘one size fits all’ scenario. For example some oils are better for stir-fries than others due to their high-smoke point. Others have strong flavours so are better suited to use as a dressing.
Below we have listed some of the more healthier oils commonly used in the kitchen to help you choose the right one for your cooking requirements:
Olive Oil: This oil comes in many varieties:
- Cold Pressed and Extra Virgin both have a strong flavour and are ideal for dishes that are gently simmered or for drizzling over food.
- Light olive oil has a more subtle flavour making it a good choice when you don’t want it to mask the flavour of the food and is a good choice for high temperature cooking.
- Pure olive oil has a mild flavour and is a good general purpose cooking oil.
Rice bran oil: A mild tasting oil with a high smoke point. A great all-purpose cooking oil.
Sesame & Peanut oils: Both have a rich, nutty flavour that enhances the flavours of food, without being overpowering. Ideal for Asian cooking.
Avocado oil: This oil has a lovely aromatic flavour. It has a high smoke point and is suitable for both frying and grilling. It also adds flavour when used in a salad dressing.