Are you confused about the best oil to cook with? There are so many options out there to choose from: coconut, olive, canola, avocado and sunflower oil to name a few…how do we know which oils are the best for our health?
When oils are heated during cooking, they react with oxygen in the air and break down (oxidation), which is not good for our health. Potentially harmful by-products, called polar compounds, are produced during oxidation. These include aldehydes and lipid peroxidases and have been linked to various chronic diseases.
Ideally, we want to choose an oil that resists oxidation (as much as possible) and that produces the least amount of polar compounds. Also, choosing an oil that is high in antioxidants helps a lot as these fight against oxidation and protect the beneficial nutrients naturally found in the oil.
A recent study done in Australia tested 10 different oils for oxidative stability, production of polar compounds and antioxidant content. They found that the best oil was extra virgin olive oil, followed by coconut oil. Seed oils such as canola, grapeseed, sunflower and rice bran tended to perform the poorest in the tests.
Extra virgin olive oil performed well in oxidative stability tests (although coconut oil did even better) but the extra virgin olive oil had the richest source of antioxidants compared to all the other oils which secured its top spot in the lineup. Virgin olive oil and standard olive oil also performed pretty well so if extra virgin olive oil doesn’t fit into your food budget, these are also suitable choices.
There were some limitations to the study, including the fact that the researchers only heated the oil without cooking food as well (which may affect how much the oil is oxidised) and they heated the oils to very high temperatures for prolonged periods which may not mimic home cooking exactly, so further studies are required. For more information about the study, or to book your own personalized nutrition consult, get in touch via our Contact page.