Updated: May 21
Going down a rabbit hole to find the truth about the oils and fats that are best for us to consume is challenging; with different perspectives, health professionals and chefs recommending different ones.
It seems like the facts are always changing and the fads getting more frequent that no-one knows what to do for the best.
Well lets keep it simple...
Here's a fact...that every one of our cells are housed within a double wall of fat called a lipid bi-layer, this protects them and by making them flexible and impermeable.
Did you also know that your brain is 60% fat?...again we need fat to protect vital parts of our body.
So we need fat, and we need water...a lot of chronic illnesses are thought to be symptoms of dehydration.
(check my reading room for suggested reading)
So we need fat, low-fat is out! Remember 20 years ago when it was all the rage to have low-fat everything? but more recently thinking has changed, with low-fat came high sugar, then sugar became artificial sweetener and things went from bad to worse.
Only recently since the industrial revolution have we been able to create oil from mechanical means, the stainless steel roller press was invented which allowed us to extract oil from hard seeds. Before we could only extract oil from softer seeds like flax and olive which was a slower process and didn't involve heat. So oils like cottonseed came into fashion and now we have lots of oils to choose from sunflower, peanut and rapeseed etc. Every oil has a different smoke point, most unrefined oils have a low smoke point which makes them unsuitable for high heat cooking because once an oil is heated above its smoke point its looses any nutritional value and becomes carcinogenic.
So we want only unrefined natural high smoke point oils to cook with.
When oils are refined they are subjected to a number of treatments including neutralization, deodorization and bleaching, these processes use heat and chemicals. Only cold pressed oils retain all there nutritional value.
So olive oil seems to be a favourite to cook with but is it really better than any other refined oil? If your going to use an oil to cook with olive oil is probably the best but remember how it is made, it's processed.
So if we want fat that has not been messed about with chemicals and processes we are left with a few alternatives.
1 - Ghee/clarified butter has the highest smoke point. Ghee is butter that has been clarified by gently heating to remove the milk solid and whey leaving a pure fat.
2 - Lard - normally from pork has a high smoke point, its taken from pork
fat. The best stuff should be grass fed pork.
3 - Beef dripping - from cows and again best to be pasture reared, it has a high smoke point and is tasty.
4 - Goose fat - not just for Christmas on your roasties!
It seems to me that we need to be a little simpler in our approach. If we eat animals then we can gain a lot from them than, not just protein. The fat can be kept for frying, the bones can be boiled for stock which is rich in collagen (great for your skin and your wrinkles!)
Years ago we would not have had these other refined oils and it seems to me that its another processed food we are consuming.
So when you have your Sunday roast, save the fat, whatever meat it is, use it for cooking in the week.
(check out my blog for ghee and other recipes)
There is no packaging and no extra cost, the whole animal is being used.
Now years ago I don't think there would be many vegetarians, now days eating meat is deemed bad for the environment and we made very conscious we should be consuming less...which I agree with totally. Eat less meat but better quality. Some meat is so cheap and you wonder just how they manage to get an animal from birth to plate for that price? At what price? Our health? Are cows, pigs and chickens that don't live outdoors really as nutritious as those who do? Would a grass fed cow that's eaten greens most of its life give you something extra? Maybe antibiotics and growth hormones will be lesser in good quality meat?
You are what you eat!
Now if you hate the idea of eating meat and are vegan, which oil would you use?
After looking at the different options; there are no perfect options, nearly all oil is refined and not many cold-pressed oils are good for cooking.
Coconut oil - is a good vegan alternative for high heat cooking, its not completely tasteless and can taint some foods but generally it works well.
So in conclusion ideally we want a solid fat that turns to liquid when for high heat cooking.
If you fancy trying to make your own ghee....Check my blog for a homemade ghee recipe its very gheasy ha ha.
Here is a video link you might like to watch too :)
Which oils are best to cook with? - BBC News