Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I was recently asked if it was true that we shouldn't cook with oil at all.   The simple answer is I believe it is okay to cook with oil in moderate amounts. The more complicated answer is you need to use the right kind of oil(s).

Saturated fats, trans fats, monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, organic, conventional, GMO,  there are a lot of factors to consider.  There are so many choices at the grocery store that it can be a little overwhelming. Then throw in the misunderstandings of how fat works on our bodies and we wind up with a lot of people eating and cooking with margerine and higher and higher levels of heart disease in this country.

I suggest that you avoid vegetable shortening and margerine.  I think it's important to avoid GMO foods whenever possible and unfortunately I have come to believe that most corn products in this country are contaminated which means if you are using corn oil it should be organic.  I believe cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils are the best.  (Cold pressing produces a high quality oil unlike a heated process which destroys nutrition, flavor and color.  Expeller pressing produces less oil but the seeds are not chemically treated before pressing and there is no heat applied during the process.)

There is an excellent book by Mary Enig, Ph.D.,  Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol that is the encyclopedia of understanding fats.  If this is a subject that you are interested in I encourage you to get this book.  

A quick excerpt:

  • natural fats and oils that should not be be used for frying or be heated include flaxseed oil unprocessed, cold-pressed canola oil, and unprocessed, cold-pressed soybean oil
  • Natural fats and oils that are safe for most deep fat frying include coconut oil, palm oil, lard, tallow, high oleic safflower oil, high oleic sunflower seed oil and regular sunflower seed oil with added sesame oil and rice bran oil
  • Natural fats and oils that are safe for one-time (my emphasis) frying include corn oil, olive oil and peanut oil
Dr. Enig herself prefers to use a composed oil for sauteing and frying that is one-third coconut oil, one third sesame oil and one third olive oil.  Once the coconut oil is melted and blended in the mixture remains liquid at room temperature.  And yes, contrary to what you may have heard, coconut oil is good for you.

Just remember when you use fat in your diet make sure it's a good fat, and use it in moderation.

photo courtesy of

No comments: