Tag Archives: oil

Cooking Oil Shakedown Part 1

5 Jun

So I realise there seems to be a lot of confusion concerning cooking oils. When you go to the grocery store there are so many to chose from. And it’s a true story when I say they are not all made equally. Some oils are best suited for specific purposes like cooking, or salad dressings while many others should be avoided all together. In this 2 part article series I’ll give a rundown of some of the most common cooking oils you find in the grocery store and which ones you should be putting in your cart!

Before I get started I want to note that although some oils come from seemingly healthy foods (like sunflower oil or vegetable oil), it is the process in which these oils are extracted that makes many of them unhealthy. Extracting oil from a source requires it to be pressed and the oil “squeezed” out. This is an easy process for certain sources, like coconut or avocado, which contain a large percentage of saturated fat so further extraction methods are not neededl. When oil is extracted from sources that have high unsaturated fat content, a lot of “pressing” is needed leading to the prododuction of heat. Heating causes decomposition of unsaturated oils and this is what is “bad” about many commerically available oils. Additional processing is often needed to extract oil from these sources including degumming, neutralization, winterization, bleaching, deodorizing and hydrogenization (not very nice processes!) The result being these oils are already rancid before you even open the container.

1. Canola Oil

Ok. So what is canola anyway? Canola is actually a form of genetically modified rapeseed. Rapeseed contains high levels of eruric acid found to be damaging to heart tissue and generally toxic. Keep in mind that rapeseed oil was used as an industrial oil for the first half of the 20th century. Canola was modified to produce a form of low eruric acid grapeseed oil and is apparently safe for human consumption. There has been a lot of press on canola oil, praising it to be a healthy unsaturated oil. I believe this is largely progoganda due to the fact canola oil is Canada’s chief export products. Maybe not, but these are the facts. In 1985, Canada actually paid the FDA 50 million dollars to consider the product GRAS (generally recommented as safe). In 1996, a Japanese study announced that a canola based diet actually killed labratory animals. In response a Canadian study was conducted feeding piglets a formula containing canola. Results found their vitamin E levels reduced to dangerous levels and their blood platelets became sticky, disrupting blood flow. The abstract of this study actually condems the ingestion of polyunsaturated oils for human health. This is interesting since polyunsaturated fats are apparently considered necessary for a healthy diet. Canola oil is highly processed and it should also be noted that over 90% of canola oil seeds are genetically modified by Monsanto (more on Monsanto in a later post!). Knowing these facts, I do not recommend canola oil for any of your meals!

2. Olive oil

Everyone says oilve oil is the best and it’s true. Olives contain 30% fat making it an easy subject for expeller press processing. Although olive oil is considered healthy, there is a major difference in the types available. Pure olive oil has been chemically refined and filtered. Virgin olive oil has been produced without chemical additives but is still subject to secondary processing to reduce bitterness. When olive oil is labelled “extra virgin” it means only the primary expeller press has been used and is the highest of quality. So if you got the cash, choose “extra virgin” everytime.  Extra Virgin Olive oil has many health benefits including the reduction of heart disease, easing of ulcers and gastritis, promotion of healthy digestion and the balancing of fatty acids. Another thing to be noted about olive oil, is although it contains numerous health benefits, these benefits disappear once heated. Olive oil is suited for medium heat (up to 405F/210c) only. Once heated above these temperatures, the fats are damaged and the oil becomes toxic. So it’s ok to use olive oil for baking but is best avoided for frying.

3. Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is another oil which has gained a reputation for being healthy. Unfortunately sunflowers require lots of processing for oil extraction. After the expeller press, sunflowers need to be dewaxed, degummed and neautralized. Sunflower seeds have a high unsaturated fat content, making them prone to rancidity. Heat produced through intense processing leads to a relatively toxic product. Also keep in mind that sunflower oil is one of the ingredients in margaine production (margarine is BAD!). The good news is sunflower oil is flavorless, ordorless and relatively boring. No need to choose this oil anyway.

4. Margarine

I feel like most people have already figured out the margarine scam. But just in case I am gonna devote a small paragraph to the ranting of this incredibly dangerous product. Somewhere back in the early 90’s, saturated got a bad rap. Margarine was produced to “save” consumers from the health hazards of butter. I can remember eating lots of butter when I was younger and thinking it was the ‘healthy” choice. Just so you know, these are the steps margarine undergoes before it finds it’s way to your belly.

  1. Extraction
  2. Neutralization
  3. Bleaching
  4. Deodorization
  5. Hydrogenization, Fractionation or Rearrangement

And those steps are just the refinement procedures. Next there are numerous processing steps that need to take place. Knowing all this, it is hard to understand how margarine can be marketed as “healthy.” Here is a little story about margarine. Margarine was originally produced to fatten turkeys. Unfortunately it killed all the turkeys. Not wanting to lose money, producers came up with a clever way to market it for human consumption. Hmmmmm. Another thing to consider is margarine is only one ingredient away from plastic and shares 27 ingredients with paint. Just saying.

Ok. So that wasn’t really a quick paragraph but I really want to get the point across that margarine is dangerous and in no way should be considered a healthy alternative for butter.

5. Butter

I must start by saying how much I love butter. I eat butter everyday. I add it to every vegetable dish and drizzle it in large amounts over popcorn. You might be surprised to know that butter is good for you. Yes, I just said that. Since consumers have been lead to believe saturated fat is bad, many people don’t know about the amazing benefits of butter. Saturated fats are NOT bad for you, as long as they come from a nonprocessed source. Butter is natural and it is essential to your health. Butter is rich in the most easily absorbable form of Vitamin A, as well as considerable amounts of Vitamin E and K. The benefits are endless. Butter contains antioxidants, contains lectins (essential for cholesterol metabolism), contains selenium and contains anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties. Seriously, I could write an entire post on butter. Isn’t it awesome to know that butter is good for you?

Alright. I think I’ve written enough in this post. I might have to make this series a 3 part series cause apparently I have a lot of say about oils. Much love blog followers!