Lets take a closer look at cooking oils to avoid in your kitchen.
Fats are essential to our well being. There is a caveat however. Not all fats are created equally. In very simple terms, we could divide them into bad fats and good fats. Good and bad fats also include oils.
Here is some bad news - some oils are pro-inflammatory, which means they will cause inflammation in your body. Inflammation is body’s natural defense against infections, injuries, but can become a chronic condition that can lead to a variety of serious ailments.
In general, oxidized fats that you ingest will cause inflammation. Some oils are more stable than others. Polyunsaturated are very unstable, followed by monounsaturated fat in the middle of the scale. Saturated fats are most stable. We want the stable ones especially when it comes to cooking. There are some essential fats in the unstable category that require special care to protect them. More on that in a later post.
Which cooking oils to avoid in the kitchen?
Think twice about using sunflower, safflower, canola, corn, soybean, peanut and vegetable oils.
These are generally comprised of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that have been heavily processed, sometime with addition of pretty pollutant solvents that leave residues. Application of heat is also common, breaking down fats to undesirable and potentially harmful compounds. Most of these oils come from genetically modified plants to make them resistant to certain herbicides, but leave behind harmful chemicals that permeate the plant cells after application. Another process involving oils is hydrogenation, which adds a molecule of hydrogen to make the oil last longer, control odor and turn it into a spreadable solid. Hydrogenation turns oils into trans-fats that are probably most damaging of all fats.
Where do these oils fit in?
Food you eat is a delivery system to your body that also includes fats. Your body is made of cells. Your cell membranes are build mostly from fat and proteins to protect the nucleus containing DNA from surroundings. Think of the membrane as a nut with hard shell that shields the precious nut (Nucleus) from bugs and birds that want to get at the nut inside. If the shell is damaged, it is easy for the critters to get in and have their way with the nut. The same principle applies to your cells. Damaged fats in your food lead to damage on cellular level that can lead to serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and others.
There is something called Omega fat ratios, more on that later.
Protect your cell membranes first by making the right choice in fat selection. The key second step is in proper use of the fat. You can have the best oil but if you apply too much heat, you will denature it (damage it). Different oils break down at different temperatures. Avoid deep-fried foods especially from fast food restaurants and stands as they use low quality oils that have been overheated and not changed often enough. As a rule of thumb, use the lowest possible heat when you preparing your food not to damage it. Fats, especially oils should be sealed from air to avoid oxidation and stored in dark, cool place to prevent degradation by light and heat.
OK, enough bad fat bashing. In the future post will look at the benefits and will talk about the best oils to use in your cuisine.