All posts tagged Healthy

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Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health.

Confused about which cooking oil is the healthiest? Join the club.

You’ve probably heard a lot of back and forth about heart health, trans fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, PUFAs (Polyunsaturated fatty acids), MUFAs (Monounsaturated fatty acids) and smoke points when it comes to cooking oils. It can all be a bit confusing, so this article is here to clear it up.

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Olive oil

(high in monounsaturated fats)

Olive oil is my favourite. Because of its prominent role in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is one of the most popular oils in many kitchens. Olive oil is a basic ingredient of the heart-healthy.

Olive oils typically have the highest percentage of monounsaturated fats among cooking oils (although some high-oleic versions of other oils may have artificially boosted levels of monounsaturated fats). Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, beneficial plant compounds that some evidence suggests may improve heart health.

Made from: Extracted from ripe olives (fruit of the olive tree) on the first pressing without the use of heat or chemicals.

Best for: It is best flavoursome oil for cold food (like drizzling over foods, on salads, pasta, and bread), but can be used in some low-heat cooking. Choose Extra Virgin (unrefined) for dressing and low-heat applications so you’ll be able to enjoy its robust flavour. Choose Virgin (also unrefined) or Pure (a blend of virgin and refined oils) for pan-frying, roasting, or baking.

Not recommended: It’s okay to use the oil for a quick sauté or for baking, but it has a low smoke point, do it is not ideal for cooking unless below the smoke point. it’s not good for deep frying.

Pros: It’s rich in polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are also looking into how polyphenols can help to prevent cancer, as well as their potential for improving cognitive function and memory. High in beneficial monounsaturated fats, olive oil is heart-healthy.

Cons: Olive oil has a relatively lower smoke point compared to other oils, so it’s best for low and medium-heat cooking; it’s not good for high-heat cooking.

Note1: Many brands, varying in colour and strength of flavour, are now available. When choosing olive oil, look for ones that say they’re cold pressed. This is a chemical-free process that means no heat was applied during the crushing, which avoids changes in the olive’s chemistry and avoids defects. The resulting oil has a natural level of low acidity.

Note2: Unfortunately, it has been discovered that some unsavoury olive oil dealers have combined olive oil with cheap vegetable oils while still labelling the bottle as 100% olive oil, so make sure the olive oil you buy is pure, otherwise you may unwittingly be consuming unhealthy oils.

How to store: Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.

Smoke point: 190-243°C (374-470°F), depending on variety.

77% MUFA


14% Saturated

There are different types of Olive Oil:

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin is the highest grade and best tasting Olive Oil derived by cold mechanical extraction (always cold-pressed) without the use of solvents or refining methods. It contains no more than 0.8% free acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste, is considered the finest and fruitiest of the bunch and no defined sensory defects. This also makes it the most expensive to buy than other types of olive oil, but its flavour can’t be substituted for anything else and contains the most antioxidants.

Made from: Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. This results in an oil that has more flavour and a fruity aroma, and is less processed, meaning it is considered “unrefined“.

Best for: Because extra-virgin olive oil offers more flavour than other types of olive oil, it’s a good option for sautéing vegetables, dipping bread or preparing salad dressings and marinades. It’s also one of the healthiest oils to use when baking. As a dressing, it’s great, too.

Not recommended for: Frying or roasting above 190°C (374°F). There are better choices than extra-virgin olive oil for cooking at high temperatures, such as when frying because the oil cannot withstand very high heat before it starts to burn and smoke, Refined (or pure) olive oil may be more suited for high-temperature cooking.

Pros: It’s high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and a quality bottle can truly take you on a taste bud adventure. Nutrition and cooking experts agree that one of the most versatile and healthy oils to cook with and eat is olive oil, as long as it’s extra virgin. You want an oil that is not refined and overly processed. An “extra virgin” label means that the olive oil is not refined, and therefore of high quality. Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids; many studies have linked it to better heart health. Choose extra virgin olive oil for its flavour and high level of antioxidants.

Cons: There’s one catch with extra-virgin versus other grades of olive oil: It has a relatively low smoke point, which means you may not want to use it for frying or roasting at temperatures above that smoke point.

Note: The definition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is very precise regards production methods, taste, and chemical composition. To be certified for the “Extra Virgin” Label, an olive oil:

  1. Must come from the first pressing of fresh olives, normally within 24 hours of harvesting.
  2. Must be extracted by non-chemical, mechanical means, and without the use of excessive heat, specifically below 28°C (82°F).
  3. The free fatty acid or acidity level must be less than 0.8%.
  4. It must be defect free – having a perfect taste and aroma.

Smoke point:

  • Extra virgin, low acidity, high quality – 207°C (405°F)
  • Extra virgin – 190°C (374°F)

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Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is a lesser grade of virgin oil.

This is also first-press olive oil, however, it has between 1 and 3 % acidity, therefore, it is of inferior quality to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you’re unable to find extra virgin olive oil this is the next best option.

It is judged to have a good taste but may include some sensory defects. Its flavour intensity can vary and its taste is milder than Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Smoke point: 210°C (410°F)

Fino olive oil

Meaning fine in Italia, this oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin olive oils.

Refined (or Pure) Olive Oil

Pure olive oil is another oil, but the name can be misleading. Pure is actually a blend of either extra virgin or virgin olive oil and olive oils that are refined. It is used mainly when extracted olive oil is of poor quality and the refining process helps it to have a better flavour.

Refined olive oil is virgin oil that has been refined using agents such as acids, alkalis, charcoal, and other chemical and physical filters, methods which do not alter the glyceridic structure, and heat to extract as much oil as possible from the olive pulp that remains after the first pressing. These are heavily processed oils that have had most of their distinct flavours and aromas removed in the extraction process.

Best for: Frying – If you love frying things in olive oil (which, like, who doesn’t?) you’ll want to use the pure stuff instead of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Not recommended for: Salad dressings.

Cons: Unfortunately, it’s not quite as flavourful, because it’s chemically processed. It also doesn’t have as many heart-healthy fats as high-quality extra-virgin. While it is still a source of monounsaturated fat, it no longer contains the polyphenols that make olive oil so good for you. The result is a fattier and more acidic oil which lacks taste, aroma and natural antioxidants. But that’s the trade-off for being able to use it for heavy duty cooking.

Note: Many times, refined olive oil is used when frying as the taste is not as remarkable as the virgin oils. A product labelled simply Olive Oil is nearly the same as something marked Pure Olive Oil in that it is refined with lack of taste. This is why producers need to add unrefined Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oil to impart some of flavour, colour, and aroma into the blend.

Smoke point: 199-243°C (390-470°F), which can stand up to that frying heat.

Light olive oil

Terms such as “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” are made up terms used by large producers and supermarkets. If the label states “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” then the Olive Oil is a refined oil lacking the taste, aroma, and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Best for: A great choice for turning into sauces and mayonnaise, using in baking or using in places you don’t want a strong olive oil flavour. It also has a higher smoking point than other olive oils, making it ideal for high-heat cooking.

Cons: A highly processed, light coloured oil with very little flavour.

Olive Pomace Oil

The lowest grade of olive oil made from the byproducts of extra virgin olive oil production. Olive skins, seeds, and pulp are heated and the remaining oil is extracted using hexane, a solvent. The result, pomace oil, is then put through the refining process, similar to pure or light olive oil. Pomace olive oil is bland and extremely low in antioxidants.

Lampante Oil

Oil with severe defects, usually from bad fruit or poor processing practices. It is not fit for human consumption until it has been refined

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Flaxseed Oil

(high in Polyunsaturated fats)

Flaxseed has become more and more popular as a superfood recently, with its high fibre content and fairly high doses of omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources, which are extremely healthy for us, since omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and control blood pressure. Flaxseed oil is one of best plant sources of three omega-3 fatty acids (olive and canola oils also contain omega-3s). You need dietary omega-3s since your body cannot make them on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and thus may help lower the risk of cancer, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Also thought to be helpful in fighting heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

You may want to look into using it more often if you don’t eat a lot of fish, but it’s hard to consume enough to get the benefits offered by omega-3s in fish. Subtle taste makes it a healthy alternative for salads.

It is also a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids to promote decreased total LDL cholesterol and increased HDL. Flaxseed oil also packs anti-inflammatory properties, keeping the body primed to ward off disease. Flaxseed oil may also help reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Made from: Cold-pressed flaxseed.

Best for: it’s best to use in cold dishes like smoothies or salads, so toss with a salad dressing or drizzling it over quinoa or dips like hummus.

Not recommended for: Cooking. It should not be heated. You absolutely can’t cook with it, because of the low smoke-point, it’s incredibly sensitive to heat and oxidizes quickly.

Pros: Since the oil is more condensed than whole flaxseeds, it provides a greater punch of omega-3s Flaxseed oil is also a terrific option for individuals suffering from high blood pressure, and studies show that supplementing with flaxseed oil on a daily basis can lower blood pressure and have a cardioprotective effect.

Cons: Avoid it if you’re on a blood thinner since flaxseed oil may increase bleeding. It can go rancid very quickly (even faster if you heat it), so this oil should be stored in the fridge and only used for low-temperature applications like dressing salads.

Other uses: the oil can be used as a mild laxative of sorts. On top of that, it’s also a solid option for moisturizing skin. You may also find this oil in various substances, like varnishes and paints, as a waterproofing agent.

Note: you should buy small bottles so you can use it up quickly, and be extra sure to store it in the fridge.

How to store: Cold-pressed flaxseed oil easily turns rancid (oxidizes easily), so buy it from the refrigerated section of the store, and keep it in your fridge at home.

Smoke point: Unrefined – 107°C (225°F), don’t use this for cooking.

18% MUFA

73% PUFA

9% saturated

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Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

go to top

Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health.

Confused about which cooking oil is the healthiest? Join the club.

You’ve probably heard a lot of back and forth about heart health, trans fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, PUFAs (Polyunsaturated fatty acids), MUFAs (Monounsaturated fatty acids) and smoke points when it comes to cooking oils. It can all be a bit confusing, so this article is here to clear it up.

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide


(high in Monounsaturated fats & a good source of Polyunsaturated)

Canola oil is one of the most neutral flavour options among all oils, making it extremely versatile. Made from canola seeds, a genetic variation of rapeseed, a flowering plant which is widely cultivated in Canada and is responsible for its name, a derivative of “Canadian oil, low acid.” (The “low acid” refers to versions of the rapeseed plant that are bred to have low erucic acid content. High levels of erucic acid can be toxic.).

Canola oil also has relatively high monounsaturated fat content. But although it contains a higher proportion of monounsaturated fat (61-62 %), canola oil is also a good source of polyunsaturated fat (32 %). In addition, canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fat among cooking oils (7 %). It is also one of the few oils that contain a good plant-based source of omega-3 fats, a beneficial type of polyunsaturated fat.

People often think of it as unhealthy because they associate it with fried food. It isn’t actually all that bad for you on its own. This is one of the healthiest oils available thanks to its fatty acid profile, omega-3 and low saturated fat contents. Canola oil is also very versatile as it has a neutral taste and light texture. The omega-3s and omega-6s may help with cardiovascular health. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided that manufacturers could claim that 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil a day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when used instead of saturated fat.

Canola oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil and can be used safely for cooking at high temperatures. It doesn’t have as much flavour as some other vegetable and seed oils, though, so you may not want to use it in recipes like salad dressings where you want the oil to add some flavour.

The reason it has a high smoke point is that it is chemically processed, but that doesn’t have much of an effect on its health qualities. Canola oil tends to be highly processed, which means fewer nutrients overall. Cold-pressed or unprocessed canola oil is available, but it can be difficult to find. Canola oil is also often highly-refined, which removes undesirable tastes, smells, or colours. Refined and unrefined oils have the same fatty acid profile. However, cold-pressed or unrefined oils contain more plant chemicals that contribute to their healthfulness.

So, might not pack quite as many benefits as your other oil selections, but its versatility should still make it a staple. Canola oil is a versatile and practical cooking oil that’s not very expensive and can be used in a variety of ways, from baking and grilling to stir-frying and making salad dressings.

Made from: The seeds of the canola plant, a crossbreed of the rapeseed plant that’s lower in potentially dangerous erucic acid.

Best for: light cooking, searing meat, mayonnaise, frying, sauces, stir-fries, roasting, and baking, muffins and light cakes.

Not recommended for: Sautéing and salad dressings. Because it has a neutral taste that doesn’t do much for your food in the flavour department, cooks don’t usually recommend using it for sautéing.

Pros: This oil has it all: It’s higher in omega-3s than most other plant oils; it’s composed of mostly MUFAs. It has a relatively high smoke point, so it’s more resistant to heat-related breakdown. Thus it’s great for all-around cooking.

Cons: Almost all canola grown in North America is genetically modified, so choose organic if you want to avoid GMOs.

Note 1: use in all kinds of dishes, not drizzle to your heart’s content, as canola is still high-fat and caloric. You can use this oil to sauté, bake, roast, stir-fry and more. Also, you can cut 1:1 with olive oil when making salad dressings, if you think the olive flavour is nice, but a bit too strong.

Note 2: Non-organic canola oil is also usually processed using a chemical solvent called hexane, but the trace amounts of hexane found in the finished product are not a threat to your health. Still, if you really want to avoid it, choose organic (hexane is not allowed in organic production), cold-pressed, or expeller-pressed canola.

Other uses: Europe is putting a lot of stock into canola as a biofuel. You’ll also find it in candles, lipsticks, even newspaper ink. Again, “versatility” is the word.

Smoke point:

  • 220-230°C (428–446°F)
  • (Rapeseed) Expeller press – 190-232°C (375-450°F)
  • (Rapeseed) Refined – 204°C (400°F)
  • (Rapeseed) Unrefined – 107°C (225°F)

61% MUFA

32% PUFA

7% saturated

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Corn oil

(also known as maize oil)

(high in Polyunsaturated fats)

Corn oil is quite a healthy oil because it is composed mainly of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low on saturated fat. It is also used in skin care and hair care, besides many other industrial applications.

Corn oil is dark in colour when unrefined. As it gets refined, it turns pale yellow in colour. It has a nutty taste with a hint of corn as well. One can literally feel the taste of corn on the cob in the unrefined, cold pressed oil. However, refined and processed oils lose their aroma and much of the taste as well.

Made from the endosperm of corn kernels, corn oil is used in the production of many kinds of margarine.

There is a popular misconception that corn is a vegetable. It is actually a grain. Corn originated and was bred from a tall grass-like plant that somewhat resembled wheat.

There are various methods of extracting oil from the seed-germs. However, the best oil in terms of health benefits is the cold pressed oil. The oil when extracted is dense and needs to be refined before it is used for cooking purposes. One can also use unrefined oil as it contains more of health-boosting plant phytochemicals. The common process of making corn oil involves expeller pressing. The oil is then treated with a solvent. After that, it is refined which gets rid of free fatty acids. Finally, it is sent through steam distillation to get rid of volatile organic compounds. However, this process leads to a loss of useful compounds and also leads to contamination with the solvent, although very small. A few producers make 100 % pure unrefined corn oil which is extracted using the cold pressed method. This is expensive than other corn oils, but it is natural and organic.

Corn oil is very easily available. One can get it any food store. However, one needs to do some searching to find extra virgin corn oil which is cold pressed and unrefined. This one would cost a few bucks more.

Made from: extracted from the germ (the small germinating part of the seed) of corn.

Best for: It can be used in baking, and because it has a high smoke point it is also good for sautéing, stir and deep frying.

Not recommended for: Corn oil makes hair more manageable, although it is not recommended to use it as hair oil.

Pros: Its high smoke point. Plus, the most studied property of corn oil is its ability to lower LDL blood cholesterol when taken within limits unless corn oil is taken in such high amounts that its saturated fat content increases cholesterol levels. Corn oil contains Vitamin E which is an antioxidant. Corn oil is good for the health of the cardiovascular system if taken within limits. Like olive oil, it reduces blood pressure post-consumption in hypertensive patients, however, as always, one should keep the consumption of fats within limits, no matter how healthy.

Cons: Reduction of LDL cholesterol alone does not mean your heart disease risk is reduced. Also, keep in mind that corn oil has an omega-6 to an omega-3 ratio of 49:1. The optimal ratio is 4:1. Corn oil has 58% omega-6 fatty acids, which, is too high and can lead to inflammation, like arthritis and acne. Therefore, one should make sure to eat enough omega-3 in the diet as well. It is all about balance. You probably also know that almost all corn grown in North America is genetically modified, so the corn oil will be, too (unless you buy organic).

Other uses: It is a nice emollient, though not as good as the well-known massage oils like olive, coconut or sweet almond, corn oil can be used for massage oil, although it is not that popular. It can carry essential oils and as such can be used in aromatherapy massages. It has a mild nutty flavour which should go well with essential oils of nuts. It is a moisturizer for the skin. Corn oil is a gentle oil and one can use it as a base oil for household products like lip balms, salves, creams, and night oils. Other common uses also are: Soap making, Carrier for medicines, As an ingredient in insecticides, Preventing corrosion on iron surfaces (rustproofing), Manufacture of nitroglycerin, It is also used in biodiesel technology.

Note: Corn oil is generally not toxic if it has been produced using the cold pressed method. If solvents were used to extract the oil, then it can lead to serious adverse health effects in the long run. Corn oil is one of the few vegetable oils that contains trans fats. However, 100 gm of corn oil contains just 0.3 gm of trans fats. Even though trans fats are really bad for cardiovascular health, this amount is pretty small.

How to store: This oil needs to be stored in the refrigerator otherwise it turns cloudy. It does not have an impressive shelf life and that only gets worse if it is exposed to light and heat.

Smoke point:

  • 230-238°C (446-460°F)
  • Unrefined – 178°C (352°F)

25% MUFA

62% PUFA

13% saturated

go to top

Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

go to top

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