Healthy eating Nutrition By Jim Dillan / June 26, 2013 What is the healthiest cooking oil to have in your kitchen, particularly for high temperature cooking? It’s certainly not the vast majority of the popular vegetable oils. In fact, there’s a good case to be made for these being the worst. Ahead is why it’s so important to switch from polyunsaturated vegetable oils to a far healthier type of cooking oil. Not only is this naturally derived oil extremely heat stable and much better to cook with, it also is full of beneficial monounsaturated fats for a healthy heart, better hair and softer skin. Unhealthy Vegetable Oils Processed vegetable oils like corn, canola, soy, sunflower and cottonseed are generally extracted from genetically modified crops with petroleum-based chemical solvents like hexane. The oil is then treated with acid and very high temperatures that destroys anything resembling nutrition in it. It is then chemically deodorized, as the smell is apparently revolting when it is first produced. Finally, it is artificially colored from shades of brown or grey to the light yellow you find on the supermarket shelves. That vegetable oils produced in chemical factories like these are labelled as ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ would be laughable, if their effect on your health wasn’t so serious. The whole case for processed vegetable oils is built on old faulty research and misleading marketing campaigns. Heat and chemically altered polyunsaturated fats, such as those so prevalent in commercial oils, create inflammation in your body and are now being linked to weight gain and a wide range of illnesses. Recent research from the Sydney Diet Heart Study, published in 2013, found replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats ‘did not provide the intended benefits, but increased all cause mortality, cardiovascular death and death from coronary heart disease’. Many other studies are showing a higher risk of arthritis and cancer, as well as increased rates of obesity the more a person uses polyunsaturated vegetable oils. This is clearly something that needs to be replaced in your kitchen. And the healthiest cooking oil replacement is cold pressed avocado oil. 3 Reasons Why Avocado Oil is the Healthiest Cooking Oil 1. Monounsaturated Fats Cold pressed avocado oil is especially rich in monounsaturated fats like oleic acid. Replacing other unhealthy fat sources with monounsaturated fats in your diet has been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Oleic acid consumption is also associated with a reduction in body fat and an improvement in symptoms of disease of inflammation like arthritis and osteoporosis. Alongside these longer term benefits, avocado oil and it’s monounsaturated fats are known to have a beneficial effect on your skin and hair when consumed regularly. You can even use the cold pressed oil as a highly effective topical treatment for softer skin and shinier hair. 2. Phytosterols and Antioxidants Avocado oil is a good source of phytosterols like beta-sitosterol. Phytosterols are substances found in plants that are so similar in structure to cholesterol that they block it’s absorption in the intestine. A diet high in phytosterols is believed to potentially lead to lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease. Oil from avocados that is cold pressed is also a good source of fat soluble antioxidants that protect your body from free radical damage like vitamin E, beta-carotene and lutein for healthy eyes. While using processed vegetable oils greatly increases your body’s antioxidant requirements, cooking with avocado oil actually provides high levels of them to protect against oxidization. 3. High Smoke Point In spite of all of this nutritional value, avocado oil is a very heat stable oil for cooking with. This makes it especially good for frying a steak or cooking a stir fry. It has one of the highest smoke point of any kitchen oil at between 480 degrees and 520 degrees Fahrenheit (270 Celsius). This compares to extra virgin olive oil’s much lower smoke point, usually listed around 320 Fahrenheit, but it can be as low as 220 Fahrenheit (105 Celsius). This makes it completely unsuitable for high temperature cooking and far from ideal for frying, even at only moderate levels. The smoke point of an oil is the point at which the oil is visibly smoking in your pan. It’s also when it can change structurally and a once healthy oil like olive oil can become decidedly unhealthy. If you do any kind of high temperature frying then you really want to be using an oil with a higher smoke point like avocado oil. Leave the extra virgin olive oil for the salads and steamed veggies if you want it to remain good for you. Simply a Much Better Cooking Oil Cold pressed avocado oil is extracted naturally, without the use of chemical solvents, acids or artificial colorings like vegetable oils. It wins out nutritionally with beneficial monounsaturated fats, phytosterols and antioxidants. And it has one of the highest smoke points of any oil, making in heat stable and superior to olive oil. A good avocado oil, like this one I use, should come in a dark glass and be kept out of direct sunlight. You can simply use it in place of where ever you used to use old inflammatory vegetable oils. Yes it is more than most supermarket oils, but that’s not surprising considering it is the healthiest cooking oil and superior to them in every way. In the end, it comes down to just how much better health is worth.