Great article on good cooking oils…

4 Alternative Cooking Oils That Belong in Every Kitchen

It’s easier than you think for unhealthy trans fats to sneak into your menu, which is why these good fats are essential for healthier cooking

BY EMILY MAIN, RODALE.COM

Past research has shown that women with heart disease are particularly susceptible to sudden cardiac death if they regularly consume trans fats in food. And a recent study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate the most trans fats had a 51 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than women who ate the lowest amounts.

Given all the bad press trans fats received a few years ago, you might have thought they were as out-of-vogue as smoking lounges or lead paint. However, “they’re definitely a big problem that people need to look out for,” says Trevor Holly Cates, ND, a naturopathic physician with a practice in the Golden Door Spa at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City, Utah, and a board member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. She pegs the problem to our love of processed foods, which rely on partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (the number one source of trans fats) because they’re cheap and last so long. The problem of processed foods become exacerbated by the fact that the Food and Drug Administration legally allows manufacturers to say that a serving contains zero trans fats if the actual amount of trans fat doesn’t exceed 0.5 grams. That’s a quarter of what the American Heart Association recommends most Americans eat per day. So a lot of people are eating trans fats without realizing it, or while thinking that they’re eating trans-fat-free foods.

“Stay away from processed foods,” Cates says. “The more we process foods and alter them from what’s found in nature, the more problems we create.” Cates also argues that, when it comes to home cooking, we shouldn’t be replacing margarine and partially hydrogenated oils with regular vegetable oils, either. “Vegetable oils are made quickly and cheaply, and with the processing, it does change them so they’re not as beneficial,” she says. For instance, the heat and harsh chemicals used to extract oil from vegetables can destroy some of the vitamins and antioxidants that should make vegetable oils healthy. Plus, research has shown that overheating vegetable oils releases lung-damaging and potentially cancer-causing particulates into your kitchen.

Instead, Cates recommends you use healthier, less-processed cooking oils that can withstand high heats and have long shelf lives naturally. “A lot of oils are delicate and they oxidize quickly,” she says, either when heated to high temperatures or after they go rancid. “It’s important for people to know when that happens, because when an oil goes rancid, it can be more harmful than good.” The oxidation process creates alterations at the cellular level that can promote cancerous cell growth, she says.

“The foods you eat should be feeding you and providing nutrients,” she says. So if you want to get the most benefits from your cooking oils, rather than replace your harmful trans-fat oils with other potentially harmful vegetable oils, try one of these good fats instead:

#1: Grapeseed oil. Cates’ favorite cooking oil is grapeseed oil, an oil that probably isn’t familiar to most people. It’s popular in France and, Cates says, is great for sautéing, stir-frying, and other high-temperature cooking methods. “With other oils, high temperatures cause them to change molecular structure and oxidize,” she says. In addition, she says, grapeseed oil has been found to improve heart health: Animal studies have shown that rats fed grapeseed oil have lower levels of cholesterol than rats fed lard or soybean oil. Also, it’s high in protein and fiber. It has a light flavor, so it works well when you need a neutral-tasting oil to cook with.

#2: Coconut oil. Coconut oil has gotten a bad reputation because it’s has so much saturated fat, as much as 92 percent. “But there are a lot of health benefits that go beyond just what kind of fat it is,” Cates says. For instance, coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a nutrient our bodies need to help our immune systems. One of the only other major dietary sources for lauric acid is breast milk. “But I’d only use a teaspoon,” she cautions. That way you get the health benefits without overdoing the fat. Coconut oil comes in a variety of forms, so you want to be sure you get the right kind. Extra-virgin centrifuged coconut oil has a light coconutty flavor, making it good for baking (if you want a little extra flavor in your cookies or cakes), whereas expeller-pressed coconut oil has no flavor at all and is a good substitute for butter or shortening. You can buy certified-organic coconut oil online from Wilderness Family Naturals.

#3: Ghee. “If people are trying to choose between a hydrogenated oil and butter, definitely go for butter,” Cates says. “We would be better off if we got back to using butter and less of these refined oils.” Ghee is essentially clarified butter, made by melting down butter until all the water evaporates and just the butter solids are left. The process concentrates the conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy cancer-fighter, found in butter. “When you clarify butter like that, it does seem to handle a higher temperature, as well,” Cates says, i.e. it becomes more stable and won’t oxidize when heated. The key to good ghee is making sure it’s organic. “When you’re talking about fats and dairy products, all the environmental toxins concentrate in the fat,” she says. Ghee, however, like coconut oil, is high in saturated fat, so use just a teaspoon when cooking. You can find organic, grass-fed ghee through Pure Indian Foods.

#4: Olive oil. There’s seemingly no end to the health benefits of olive oil. It’s good for your heart, high in healthy monounsaturated fats, and it just tastes good. But the healthiest high-quality, extra-virgin olive oils don’t handle heat well, so Cates recommends reserving them for salad dressings. Lower-quality refined olive oils that can withstand high heats (sometimes labeled “pure” or “extra light”) have been heavily processed using heat and chemicals, and contain as much as three times less of the polyphenols and antioxidants that make extra-virgin olive oil so healthy.

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4 thoughts on “Great article on good cooking oils…

  1. Grapeseed oil is a staple in my cupboard and the latest cook book i am reading from a Doctor recommends the coconut oil though i am yet to give it a go. I find the grapeseed oil with vinegar makes a pretty tasty salad dressing.

    • I’ll have to try that with salad! I like that grapeseed oil can be cooked at a higher temperature without breaking down but so far no one has noticed my swap from olive oil. I also hope to try coconut oil soon too. Please let me know if you try it and like it!

  2. Hello! I just wanted to say I really enjoy your articles. Thanks for all the great info. I also wanted to ask you a question. A friend of mine posted an article about onions and mayonaise on Facebook, written by someone else, that was very interesting. I was wondering what you thought of it and will attach it to this note. Sincerely, Shelley Erickson   ONIONS! I had never heard this!!! PLEASE READ TO THE END: IMPORTANT

    …In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu… Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.

    The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

    Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

    Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

    Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know about the farmer’s story…but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill… I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs…sure enough it happened just like that…the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

    Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

    This is the other note. Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we shouldn’t eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.

    LEFT OVER ONIONS ARE POISONOUS

    I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.

    Ed, who was our tour guide, is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.

    “It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really necessary.” He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the summer picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table, and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

    Ed says that, when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the ‘victim’ last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as it’s not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It’s probably the ONIONS, and if not the onions, it’s the POTATOES.

    He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

    It’s already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!). Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you’re asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

    Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

    Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

    Please pass this on to all you love and care about. — with Adonain Danny Rivera.

    ________________________________

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