Which oil is the best?

By November 2, 2015Blog

I am often asked: Which oil is the best? In this blog I offer my detailed response. The one and only best oil does not really exist. The best type of oil for each dish depends on the method of preparing food: is the dish cold or hot, and if hot, how hot?

The best oils for salads and cold appetizers

For salads I recommend flax, hemp and olive oils.

Hemp oil is particularly valuable for health due to its content of fatty acids, which are mainly unsaturated, and have an ideal ratio of ω3 (omega 3) / ω6 (omega-6) of about 1: 3. It is that ratio which is considered optimal for human health. Hemp seed oil contains phytosterols, terpenes and tocopherols which not only have potential antioxidant properties, but may also affect the signalling pathways identified to regulate inflammatory responses, thereby exerting an immunomodulatory effect. Tocopherols can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and age-related macular degeneration. Lowering cholesterol is one of the main benefits of β-sitosterol, a phytosterol in hemp.

Hemp oil contains about 55 g of linoleic acid (omega-6) and 21 grams of α-linolenic acid (omega-3) per 100 grams. The average RDA for an adult of linoleic acid is 6.5 grams per day. Thus, the consumption of 12 grams of hemp oil (about 1 tablespoon) will fully cover this need. The RDA for α-linolenic acid is 3 grams for men and 2 grams for women. Thus, that same tablespoon of hemp oil will also cover your need for this essential acid.

With regard to the flaxseed oil, it is the richest source of α-linolenic (ALA) on Earth. One tablespoon of this oil contains 7 g of ALA. Basically, if your weekly menu contains at least 3 tablespoons of flaxseed oil, then your need for this acid is covered. Flaxseed oil unlike hemp contains very little omega-6 acids.

Extra virgin olive oil is a very healthy product. Scientifically proven is the property of olive oil polyphenols to contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress. This health befit is reached when one consumes at least 20 grams of olive oil per day.

Hemp, flax and extra virgin olive oils should not be heated. Their beneficial properties are maintained only when using cold.

Exotic or rare oils (grape seed, avocado, hazelnut, walnut) also have useful properties, and if possible, use them as well, but the above three oils are the most practical (in terms of price and availability) and beneficial for overall health.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is excellent for baking and raw desserts. It is sold with a characteristic smell of coconut, and without. Coconut oil has unique anti-inflammatory properties, when used both in internally and externally, and thus has a positive affect on the health of the skin. While baking or making raw desserts coconut oil helps create a pleasant creamy structure.

Oil for cooking

Which oil is the best for cooking? If we put aside the health benefits, a key factor that must be considered when choosing oil for preparing foods is the so-called smoke point. The chemical structure of the oil changes with the temperature, which is known as its smoke point of. It should be said that the definition the smoke point is always a rough estimate because the smoke is happening gradually rather than at some point, and because the temperature of fuming depends also on how refined the oil is. For example, olive oils extra virgin, virgin, Pomace and light all have different smoke points. Extra virgin olive oil has the lowest and therefore it is not suitable for heating.

In principle, oils with a low smoke point are good as salad dressings and are not suitable for the preparation of hot food. They also tend to have stronger flavour. Refined oils have higher smoke points and usually more neutral taste. Oils with a high smoke point suitable for cooking hot foods include corn, rapeseed, sesame, safflower, olive (except extra virgin), soybean and peanut oils.

Author Lera Krasovskaya

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