“What oil should I fry with?”
High temperature frying and deep frying are damaging to health. High temperatures damage oils by causing chemical changes and these oils then become toxic to cells of the body. The membrane around our cells contains fatty components and consuming damaged fats reduces the fluidity of the membrane and the cells ability to absorb healthy nutrients and fats. The health of the cell membrane also affects the balance of hormones, insulin management and thereby weight management.
The best oils to fry with
Butter, coconut oil and olive oil are the safest to fry with. Organic fats and oils are generally the best choice to reduce harmful substances that are easily concentrated in fats. Oils are best stored in cool conditions in dark bottles to reduce damage from sunlight exposure.
What makes some oils better than others
Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and have no double bonds between the carbon atoms in their fatty carbon chain. These fats do not readily form trans fats and denatured fats when heated. Butter and coconut oil are both saturated fats and olive oil is a monounsaturated oil which means it has only one double carbon bond.
Polyunsaturated oils such as sunflower seed oil, flaxseed oil and many other nut and seed oils are unsaturated and contain many double carbon bonds in their molecular structure and when exposed to heat readily form trans and hydrogenated fats, which are harmful to health.
Most seed oils have a blend of saturated fats and unsaturated fats in varying proportions. Omega 3 and omega 6 oils are known as healthy oils, however are unsaturated and form harmful hydrogenated fats very easily when heated. Rape seed oil is now a popular oil for cooking, however it contains approximately 7% omega 3 and 30% omega 6 oil, and therefore will denature more readily at high temperatures than a saturated fat. Many of the processing techniques used to produce a palatable rape seed oil can damage the health properties of the oil.
The production of oils from seeds and nuts
Chemical and mechanical extraction methods are used to produce oils for the food market. Strong solvents are often used to separate the oil from the seeds or nuts and these solvents are then evaporated off at high temperatures which further damages the oils. Impurities are filtered by industrial processes leaving the oil devoid of many of its original nutrients.
Oils that are mechanically extracted, are pressed at a very high pressure which creates heat, however these oils are generally referred to as 'cold pressed’ because no external heat has been applied. 'Extra virgin', 'cold pressed’, unrefined oils, are the best choice, because these oils have had less detrimental processing exposure.
Extra virgin olive oil refers to the initial, unrefined oil, gathered from the first crushing.
The best way to fry with oils
To reduce damage to oils when frying, put water into the pan first and then the oil, because this keeps the temperature of the oil lower. Keep the heat low and watch it to prevent burning. Steam frying with a lid on the pan softens the food and allows the temperature to be kept lower.
Smoking oil is damaged oil.
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