A comprehensive guide to cooking oils

Oil you need to know about cooking oils!

With a splash there and a dash here, cooking oil can either be the vehicle that drives your dish forward or addition that gives your meal that extra je nes sais quoi. But do you know exactly what you are adding to your diet when you use this pantry staple? 

Let’s take a look at the most popular cooking oils and what they bring to the table: 

Olive Oil 

The health effects of dietary fat have always been controversial, especially when it comes to olive oil. Although olive oil has proven to boast several benefits, people tend to focus on its high in calories – just one teaspoon contains 100 calories. 

While this is true, the predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oleic acid makes up 73% of the total oil content and has been linked to reducing inflammation in the body. There have also been numerous studies that found that a diet rich in olive oil does not necessarily cause weight gain but could result in weight loss. 

Extra virgin olive oil contains modest amounts of vitamin E and K and has been proven to be loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants could reduce the risk of chronic diseases and protect your blood cholesterol from oxidation, lowering your chances of developing heart disease when paired with reduced inflammation.

So clearly, when olive oil is used in moderation, the benefits far outweigh the calorie count. 

Canola Oil 

It may seem like it has good intentions when it comes to canola oil, but in reality, it does more harm than good. 

The canola crop is created through plant crossbreeding? It was developed to be an edible version of the rapeseed plant, which on its own contains toxic compounds called erucic acid and glucosinolates. However, to improve oil quality, most canola crops are genetically modified (GMOs), which could harm the body if consumed in excess. 

Like other oils, canola oil does contain a small percentage of vitamins E and K, but that’s pretty much it when it comes to nutrients. 

As for fatty acids, canola oil does have a low level of saturated fat and a solid amount of polyunsaturated fats, which works in its favour.

Polyunsaturated fats include linoleic acid – commonly known as omega-6 fatty acid – and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that comes from plant sources. 

These fatty acids can be beneficial for people that follow plant-based diets. However, t the heating methods used in the manufacturing process and cooking methods negatively impact these polyunsaturated fats, cancelling out the benefits. 

In addition, most modern diets are high in omega-6 fatty acids because it is found in refined foods. This could lead to increased inflammation and put a person at risk of developing heart disease. 

Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil is controversial – some people swear by it, and others avoid it like the plague. But why? There have been claims that coconut oil encourages fat burning, is a good energy source, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties. 

Some researchers have argued that the medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil could increase the body’s good cholesterol levels. Still, others have disproved this, saying that there is no clear evidence that it does this. 

However, there is evidence that proves that coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which, as we all know, increases our odds of developing cardiovascular diseases if consumed in excess. 

There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to coconut oil, and for us to determine whether it is good or not, a lot more research needs to be done. 

Keen to make more healthy changes to your diet? Find out more about our meal plan guides here.

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