How to choose the right oil? It gets very confusing out there. What oils are good for you? What oils should you use for frying? What oils for baking? What oils in your salad? What is the deal with all these Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and what oils are high in which fatty acids?

What is polyunsaturated versus monounsaturated vs. saturated? Which one should we consume?

Let’s put a bit of order in the mess, shall we?

When going to choose your oil you need to consider a few things:

 

 1. The smoking Point of the oil: The first issue is what temperature your oil is going to be exposed to and what is the ‘smoking point’ of the oil. Why is this important? When you pass the oil’s smoke point, the heat basically destroys the oil’s structure, and turns otherwise healthy oil into a poison. Some oils have a higher smoke point than others, but it is important to remember that all oils have a smoke point. The more refined the oil and the more unsaturated the higher is the smoking point, meaning you can use it with higher temperatures. http://ifitandhealthy.com/oil-smoke-point-cooking-oil-smoke-point/ The problem is that the oils that can burn well at high temperatures are not really great for you because they are usually highly refined and processed and also high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which bring me to my next point…

2. The omega 6 fatty acids content: This is from Dr. Weil:” If you follow my (or anybody’s S.G.) anti-inflammatory diet, you should get a healthy ratio of these fatty acids (omega 6 and omega 3). In general, however, you can cut down on omega-6 levels by reducing consumption of processed and fast foods and polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, soy, and cottonseed, for example). At home, use extra virgin olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings. Eat more oily fish or take fish oil supplements, walnuts, flax seeds, and omega-3 fortified eggs. Your body and mind will thank you.” http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400149/balancing-omega-3-and-omega-6.html Ideally, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids should be 1:1, to even up to 1:4 by some sources.

3. The processing level of the right oil: The more processed and refined the oil is the more likely it is to have a higher smoke point. While this is great for using for high temperature cooking, the highly processed oil carry some health risks such as trans-fats and other impurities that are harmful or may be harmful to our health. Here is a link to a chart of oils and their omega fatty acids type and content as well as their smoke point: http://theconsciouslife.com/omega-3-6-9-ratio-cooking-oils.htm I am adapting and taking some information from the above resource to create an abbreviated version of the oils I would use and some I would not.

Cooking OilOmega 6:3 RatioSmoke PointUse for:
Flaxseed Oil-Cold pressed1:3.7225F/107 CDressings, if you can mask the taste…
Macadamia Oil1:1413F/210CMedium temperature frying, baking,salad dressing, drizzling
Walnut Oil5.1:1400F/204CMedium temperature frying,baking, salad dressings, drizzling
Coconut oilVery low omega6, no omega 3350F/177CMedium temperature frying, baking.I find that it can handle higher temperatures well.
Olive oil, extra virgin12.8:1375 F/205CLow-medium temp frying.Baking, Salad dressings,Drizzling.
Canola oil2:1420F/204cIt looks good on paper but thereis a lot of controversy and information on problems regarding the process of extracting and refining this oil. I do not touch it.
Grapeseed oil696:1420F/216CNot using this one anymore. I was surprised.

I will leave the polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated oil discussion for another blog…. the right oil in this respect depends on your specific health.

So what do I do? What is my bottom line? What Is The Right Oil?

coconut oil and fresh coconuts on old wooden tableI use coconut oil, walnut oil and olive oil for my frying depending on the temperature. Truly the right oil for frying is very important. I do not use canola oil at all unless it is organic and non GMO.  In that case it is OK to use it for high temperature cooking. I will not use grapeseed oil anymore and I vow to start using flaxseed oil more and more in salad dressings since it is so healthy! I just have to find a way to get over the taste, it is terrible. Maybe just use the ground flax seeds and add them to everything. Their taste is much better tolerated. I love Macadamia oil in salad dressings, it has an amazing flavor, yet I use all other oils, except for coconut oil,  in my dressings as well. I do not bake that much but when I do I use butter, coconut oil, and walnut oil in my baking. I do use toasted sesame oil sparingly in my Asian dishes and love the flavor it adds, I add it at the end and I do not heat/fry with it. As a rule I use the least processed, cold pressed and the best organic oils that I can find.

Oils are great and essential for our health as long as we use the correct ones, choose well and do not over do it. Our skin, our body and our brain requires oils. That is why these fatty acids are called ESSENTIAL my friends. Do not be afraid of oil. Be smart about the oils you use.

Walnut oil with nuts on a white background