We will resolve doubts about which oils are the most suitable and healthy to cook, especially when subjecting food to high temperatures. We will show you the different types of oils and their specific nutritional properties so you can be clear what oil to use in each case.
Vegetable oils are the healthiest to cook , although that does not mean that we should not have some precautions in their consumption. In this article we review its properties, the types of oils and the warnings that we must keep in mind to maintain a balanced diet that provides the most necessary fats to our health.
Let’s talk about fats
Everyone is clear that saturated fats are responsible for more and more people suffering from cardiovascular disease , high cholesterol and arteriosclerosis. But what not everyone knows is that, in fact, saturated fats are necessary . The problem arises when we carry a diet rich in this type of fatty acids and poor in other essential nutrients . The vegetable oils generally are low in saturated fat and, therefore, moderate consumption provides us with the necessary amounts of fatty acids that we need to maintain a healthy diet.
Some vegetable oils are rich in this type of fats. The most important is the extra virgin olive oil . This type of fatty acids does not harm the heart , as it lowers the level of bad cholesterol (LDL). But their best property is that they are the only fats capable of raising good cholesterol (HDL).
They are the most beneficial for the heart and arteries , but the body’s needs for this essential fatty acids are small and, although essential, they do not have the capacity to raise the levels of good cholesterol (HDL), although they do reduce the bad (LDL). The latest scientific studies warn that cardiovascular problems are not directly related to high levels of bad cholesterol exclusively, but above all with a decompensation of the two types of cholesterol and other unhealthy lifestyle habits such as lack of Exercise , smoking, etc. Check out some myths about cholesterol questioned by science .
Oils and their resistance to heat
All oils undergo significant transformations in their molecular composition when subjected to high temperatures. The more unsaturated a fat, the more sensitive it is to heat and oxidation. When they come in contact with the air, the oils have the ability to frizz and oxidize, which also generates essential changes in their properties. That is why extra virgin olive oil is a good oil in this sense, as it is one of the richest in vitamin E , a powerful antioxidant, and therefore also used as a preservative of other foods.
The oils change with the heat:
- From heat oils lose their important nutritional properties and as temperature increases they generate toxic substances that are complicated to digest and that can alter the correct functioning of some organs.
- All the oils have capped temperature from which undergo molecular reactions which can become highly toxic or carcinogenic . This temperature is usually about 140 ° or 210 ° in the case of olive oil.
Types of oils according to their fats
- Saturated fats: Some vegetable oils , such as coconut oil , contain a lot of saturated fats (just like animal fats) 80% in total and therefore we must moderate their consumption.
- Monounsaturated fats: Others, like olive , are richer in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are the ones that lower the bad cholesterol and raise the good.
- Polyunsaturated fats: Finally, there are those more rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are the most beneficial for the body and, especially, for the cardiovascular system (such as hemp oil). The only problem they have is that, although they reduce the levels of bad cholesterol, they do not increase those of the good cholesterol.
Oils according to their content in fatty acids
This is a brief summary of the types of oil according to their concentration in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Oils rich in saturated fatty acids are:
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
Oils rich in monounsaturated fatty acids are:
Oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids are:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wheat germ
- Evening Primp
Oils not suitable for frying
Different studies carried out in the USA And the United Kingdom on the health impact of some oils subjected to high temperatures have shown that oils that are less heat resistant and whose prolonged consumption can trigger different diseases are:
Olive oil, the king of oils
Although some authors such as Dr. Jorge Pérez-Calvo Soler affirm that the best oils for cooking are those rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as hemp or flax, the truth is that sometimes the tradition is safer than fashions Or fleeting affirmations (although these have the full meaning of the world).
Other expert opinions and numerous studies indicate that oils rich in monounsaturated fatty acids not only lower bad cholesterol but increase good, a key to maintaining good cardiovascular health.
Olive oil withstands high temperatures well and is also one of the most antioxidant , but above all, it has been widely used by a culture of which we are part, the Mediterranean, with very benevolent data regarding its beneficial impact on health When it is used as a base in the contribution of fats to the diet.
The Dr. Signalet and Professor Felipe Hernández , whom we deeply respect, say the olive oil extra virgin as a base oil in cooking and health.
Raw oils, the best the best oils
Other oils such as walnut, sesame, evening primrose, borage or wheat germ are also very healthy provided they are consumed raw and are first cold pressure.
In any case, be it olive oil or any other, the oils maintain their nutritional qualities in perfect condition when they are raw and have not been subjected to high temperatures. So, the ideal is to try to fry as little as possible and better add a splash of oil at the end of cooking.
Precautions to be taken with oils
- Use frying as little as possible , not only by the transformation of oils but because, as a rule, they are not beneficial to the body.
- Do not reuse oils .
- Avoid at all costs overheating the oil , that is, when smoke comes out. If an oil , in a frying, emits smoke, it means that it is producing elements and substances highly toxic and carcinogenic.
- Do not mix the oils when frying, as each one has its own characteristics that will interfere in the other.
- To benefit from the properties of certain seeds, it is better to consume the seed itself than its oil .
Taking all these facts into account, we can draw some conclusions when deciding which oil to use for cooking and how to use it:
- Olive oil has a tradition, experience and scientific studies on populations that consume it regularly that indicate its multiple benefits for the cardiovascular system and diabetes. In addition, it is one of the oils that best withstand heat and oxidation.
- The oils of sesame, evening primrose, borage, wheat germ, etc … are interesting because of their high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, but better to consume them raw.
- Palm and coconut oils are very resistant to high temperatures, but are not there are mixed recommendation because of their high content of saturated fatty acids.
- All oils maintain their nutritional properties in a better state when consumed raw , therefore it is recommended to avoid frying and adding the oil at the end of cooking is always a good idea.
- Avoid completely smoke when you are frying. If we have neglected and we see smoke coming out of the pan, it is better to throw the oil and re-fry, since the smoke is a sign that toxic carcinogenic substances have been produced.
- The less we reuse oils , the better.