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Well-Oiled: Choosing The Best Oil For What You’re Cooking

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By mia bolaris-forget

A recent study suggests that a Medittereanean diet, replete with plenty of veggies, fish, nuts, legumes, and olive oil is among the best ways to eat for both me an you. And, while eating may not always or necessarily be the problem, cooking can be the catastrophic culprit, even for those who know what they are doing.

According to experts, while many of us are now replacing bad for you oils with heart-healthy options such as olive, canola, peanut, sesame, and grapeseed oils, all marvelously rich in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol, these benefits may often be going up in smoke. They note that heating these life-enhancing oils at high temps breaks them down, depleating them of their essential nutrients and healthy properties, frequently also releasing free radicals that can be carcinogenic. In addition, when oil reaches its “smoking point”, the food cooked in it can tend to taste “off”.

Here are some helpful hints for cooking with healthy oils:

· Extra-virgin olive oil: Because it tends to be super-sensative to heat, it’s best NOT to cook with it. Instead experts recommend using pure or virgin olive oil, which can withstand higher heats. They suggest using this oil to quickly sauté veggies or for slow oven roasting.

· Canola oil: Pros note that this is among the most superior of cooking oils with the least saturated fat of any vegetable oil. And, because it’s practically tasteless it can be used with or for preparing any dish. Plus, it’s got a fairly high smoking point (400 degrees Fahrenehit or more), making ideal for stir fries and other “really hot” dishes.

· Peanut oil: Also praised for it’s exceptionally high smoking point (440 degrees Fahrenheit), experts recommend using this oil for recipes that call for high temps such as Southeast Asian dishes. However, they suggest keeping in mind that highly refined varieties can be virtually tasteless, so you may want to add a few drops of roasted peanut oil just prior to serving.

· Sesame oil: For the highest smoking point look for refined light sesame oil (which reaches it’s smoking point at around 450 degrees Fahrenheit). However, they note that like highly refined peanut oils, it adds little to flavour. For more robust dishes look for dark sesame oils, but keep in mind that they have a lower smoking point (around 350 degrees Fahrenheit) and should be used only for drizzling on Asian noodle dishes or adding to Asian soups such as miso.

· Grapeseed oil: While slightly more expensive, the neutral flavour makes this oil idal for almost any dish, including delicate fish and veggies. Plus, it has a relatively high smoking point (about 420 degrees Fahrenheit), and that means it’s also excellent for brushing on fish and veggies before grilling. Last but not least, grapeseed oil is low in saturated fat and high in vitamin E.


Long Island Home & Lifestyle Articles > Well-Oiled: Choosing The Best Oil For What You’re Cooking

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