Olive or canola? And what about such an avocado? All oils are full of energy and fat, but in terms of the content of healthy substances they can vary greatly.
Some are literally a storehouse of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, others do not supply the body with many valuable substances.
It is important to keep in mind that improper thermal use of vegetable oils burns over, and thus loses nutrients.
What are the healthiest cooking oils that belong in a salad and what to fry on? The key is the smoke point!
What types of oil we know?
According to the production method, vegetable oils are divided into refined and unrefined.
Refined oils are produced by high temperature refining. During this process, some vitamins, taste, color and smell are lost.
So they have less substances beneficial to the human body and at the same time a higher smoke point.
They are also characterized by long durability, indistinct taste and translucency.
On the other hand, unrefined oils (otherwise also cold-pressed or virgin) retain their nutrients thanks to a gentle production process.
They are characterized by a more pronounced taste and aroma, higher density and turbidity.
At the same time, however, they tend to have a lower smoke point and are therefore especially suitable for preparing cold dishes.
For unrefined oils, the correct storage conditions must be observed.
They are sensitive to oxidation and should therefore be protected from light and sunlight. For this reason, they are sold in dark bottles.
Smoke point – the most important feature of oil
A very important feature of cooking oils is the so-called smoke point (otherwise also the overburden point, smoke point or thermal stability of fats).
This determines which oils are suitable for heat treatment and which are not. The smoke point is an expression of the temperature at which oil starts to smoke.
If the oil is smoked, it is degraded and valuable substances are destroyed.
Oils with a low smoke point should not be heated at all and are only suitable for cold cooking or seasoning.
Other types of oils, on the other hand, tolerate very high temperatures well and are therefore also suitable for frying, grilling or baking in the oven.
|Type of Fat||Smoke Point|
|Rice Bran Oil||490°F/260°C|
|Light/Refined Olive Oil||465°F/240°C|
|Avocado Oil (Virgin)||375-400°F/190-205°C|
|Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)||375°F/190°C|
|Extra-Virgin Olive Oil||325-375°F/165-190°C|
5 healthiest oils
1. Olive oil
The beneficial effects of olive oil have been known to mankind for thousands of years. In his famous epic Odyssey, Homer already described olive oil as liquid gold.
In addition, unlike Homer, we have many studies available today that prove his beneficial effect on the human body.
Scientific research has confirmed the beneficial effects of olive oil in the prevention of diabetes, cancer and metabolic disorders.
It also contributes to the regulation of cholesterol levels and the proper functioning of the blood circulation.
As much as 97% of olive oil is made up of fats.
Thanks to a 75% share of monounsaturated fatty acids (with the largest proportion of oleic acid), it is the richest natural source of these healthy fats.
We call these fats healthy because they help regulate cholesterol levels and support the proper functioning of the heart.
They also improve the ability to concentrate, function memory and other cognitive functions.
Olive oil is an indispensable part of Mediterranean cuisine in particular, where its use is really wide: from vegetable salads to pasta and risotto to meat dishes.
Thanks to the high smoke point, the extra virgin olive oil is also suitable for virtually any cooking technique, including frying.
Its distinctive aroma and taste are also great for preparing cold dishes and flavoring a variety of dishes.
2. Canola oil
Due to the health content of erucic acid, people used to curse and delay canola oil. But this is no longer needed today!
The so-called low-erucus varieties with a very low proportion of this acid have been bred since the 1980s. At the same time, very strict legislation applies in the European Union, according to which canola oil can contain a maximum of 2% erucic acid (compared to the previous 45%). So today you can safely include canola oil in your diet.
But you should still choose carefully.
The best choice is cold-pressed unrefined canola oil, which retains valuable substances and natural vitamins thanks to a gentle production method.
According to scientific studies, canola oil is currently considered one of the healthiest vegetable oils with beneficial effects on the human body.
Most people have an excess of saturated fatty acids and, conversely, a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids.
The composition of canola oil compensates for this disparity.
It contains the lowest proportion of saturated fatty acids from common oils – about 8%, which is twice less than in olive oil and even five times less than in fats of animal origin.
Canola oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a great 1: 2 ratio, which is more favorable than many other vegetable oils.
In our normal diet, most of us consume an excess of omega-6 fatty acids and, conversely, we lack omega-3 fatty acids.
This contributes, among other things, to chronic inflammation, so it is important to maintain a maximum ratio of 1: 2 between the two components. In reality, however, it is often up to 1:20!
The most abundant (around 55%) in omega-9 rapeseed oil is oleic acid, which brings the body a number of health benefits, including regulation of blood cholesterol levels.
In addition, canola oil is oxidatively stable and is therefore more resistant to so-called rancidity, which results in a decrease in nutrients and taste properties of the oil.
Thanks to this, canola oil is versatile for cold and hot cuisine, including short frying.
3. Avocado oil
In recent years, exotic avocado fruit has become very popular due to its high content of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
In order for your body to get the valuable substances that avocados contain, you do not have to consume whole fruits – it is also used to make a great oil.
Avocado oil is one of the few types of vegetable oils that are not produced from seeds.
The starting material is the pulp of the fruit. The resulting oil is really rich in healthy fats.
It is made up of almost 70% oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid and helps regulate blood cholesterol levels.
Lowering bad cholesterol in the blood reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and thus benefits heart health.
Further research links the consumption of avocado oil to lowering blood pressure.
The findings of several studies examining the effect of consuming a mixture of avocado and soybean oil on joint health are also very promising.
Avocado oil is very versatile when used in the kitchen.
It is characterized by a greenish color typical of the avocado itself. Its taste is very delicate, but at the same time concentrated.
A small amount is enough for flavoring.
At the same time, avocado oil does not overwhelm the taste of the dish.
In the cold kitchen you can use it in vegetable salads, dressings, mayonnaise, spreads or tartar sauce.
In a warm kitchen, its use is even more varied – it is suitable for frying, cooking, roasting, grilling and baking.
It has a high smoke point, so it retains all the important nutrients up to 271 ° C.
4. Walnut oil
Although walnut oil is one of the lesser-known, its nutritional profile ranks it among the high-quality sources of healthy fats and other beneficial substances.
Walnuts resemble the human brain in shape, and have long been considered a source of energy for our thinking.
Today, thanks to scientific studies, we already know that walnut oil is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and especially alpha-linolenic acid.
These healthy fats support brain activity, cognitive function and the nervous system.
Furthermore, walnut oil contains a high proportion of vitamin E, B vitamins and minerals, including often deficient magnesium and zinc.
The culinary use of walnut oil is largely limited by its low smoke point (about 160 ° C).
It is therefore especially suitable for preparing cold dishes.
Its delicate taste with a mixture of woody and nutty tones goes well with vegetable and fruit salads, sauces and dressings.
It is also excellent for the final flavoring of cooked rice, pasta or fish.
5. Pumpkin oil
Unlike other oils, pumpkin oil is easy to recognize.
It has a distinctly dark color, just like pumpkin seeds! It is made up of more than 70% unsaturated fatty acids.
It also contains about 18% saturated fatty acids and also contains vitamins A, B, D and E.
Another important component are minerals. Above all, the high zinc content is the reason why pumpkin oil is recommended for prostate problems, menopause and also for improving the quality of hair, nails and skin.
Recent research by the British Journal of Psychiatry has shown a positive effect on mental health and antidepressant effects.
Like most types of vegetable oils made from seeds, pumpkin is especially suitable for preparing cold dishes.
You will have a great show with it during the final flavoring of pumpkin soup or puree.
Drizzle a salad or spread with it, or use it as a base for dressings.
Pumpkin oil has a relatively low smoke point (160 ° C), so its use in a warm kitchen is not recommended. He would lose most of his valuable stuff, and that would be a great pity.
What oil to fry in?
It is true that frying is definitely not one of the healthiest methods of cooking, but it is simply an integral part of some recipes.
So how do you make frying as healthy as possible?
The amount of oil used is important as well as its type. Some types of vegetable oils are suitable for frying, others not at all.
Although a particular product may be considered healthy in its composition, if it is not suitable for heat treatment, it will lose most of the beneficial substances during frying.
The main parameter when choosing an oil suitable for frying is its smoke point.
Slower and gentler frying takes place at temperatures above 150 ° C, otherwise expect a frying temperature of approximately 180 to 190 ° C.
High smoke point oils are mostly refined because heat-sensitive substances have been removed from them by heat treatment during production.
Also think about the aroma of the oil. If you do not want to overwhelm the taste of fried food, choose neutral oils.
So the best frying oils are those that have a high smoke point. From our selection of healthy oils, it is mainly avocado, canola and olive.
Avocado oil has a refined smoke point of 271 ° C, in unrefined and virgin oil about 190-207 ° C. The values of canola and olive oil are around 200 ° C.
Other oils suitable for frying are, for example, coconut, peanut (both in the refined version smoke point 232 ° C) or sunflower (refined 227 ° C).
Choose the oil carefully
However, since the individual types of oil can vary considerably in the amount of beneficial substances, it is necessary to carefully select not only the starting material but also the method of processing.
Our diet should be dominated by cold-pressed oils that have not been refined during production.
When choosing the type of oil, you should always take into account the purpose for which you will use it in the kitchen.
Especially if the oil is to serve you when cooking at very high temperatures (frying, baking, roasting), you should choose products with a high smoke point.
This is the only way to ensure that the heat treatment does not lose nutrients, taste and smell.
If you choose the right oils for your kitchen, your meals will not only be tastier and more interesting, but also more nutritious.