Getting to grips with different oils and when to use them can be tricky. There’s so much conflicting information out there that it’s easy to get confused when faced with the ever growing variety of oils on the shelves. We want to break it down for you, keep it simple and give you the low down on the 3 nutritious oils that we think should be a kitchen staple.
…Great for frying, baking and putting on your skin!
Coconut oil has been in the spotlight recently in debates over whether it’s high fat content is good or not so good for you. However, the oil has a high percentage of a type of fat called lauric acid, which has been labelled a ‘miracle ingredient’ that supports a healthy metabolism and contains anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties. Coconut oil is also free from trans fat and is rich in medium-chain healthy fats.
The high level of healthy fats found in coconut has many positive effects on the body, including improved digestive health, increased focus and mental performance and immune support. Additionally, healthy fats help to keep our hormones balanced leading to better moods, more energy and less hunger cravings – Do we need to say any more?
When buying coconut oil, you want to be looking for the unrefined option, often referred to as ‘pure’ or ‘virgin’. This label means the oil has been extracted from the fresh coconut and undergone either wet-milling or quick drying. Unlike refined coconut oil, the production of its unrefined counterpart does not require any bleaching or additives, and additionally does not require the coconut to be exposed to high heat levels like refined coconut oil does. This extraction process protects the beneficial properties of the coconut oil such as its high antioxidant and nutrient levels.
So when should you use it? Coconut oil is great for high-heat cooking such as a stir frying due to its high smoke point and aromatic flavour. It’s also a great plant-based alternative for baking – Just replace butter in your recipes with coconut oil as a dairy alternative! Use 3/4 cup oil to replace 1 cup of butter and enjoy a delicious vegan version of your favorite treats! Coconut oil also makes a great, natural addition to your skin and hair care routines, as a moisturiser, make up remover and hair mask!
…Use in your high heat stir fries and salad dressings!
Avocado oil has burst onto the health food scene and has been praised by nutritionists and chefs alike, and this is no surprise considering its incredible health benefits. Sourced from the flesh surrounding the avocado’s pit, this oil is packed full of essential fatty acids.
Avocado oil has a high fat content, with one tablespoon containing 14 grams of fat. But don’t let this put you off, this superfood oil contains no trans fat or cholesterol and is made up of only healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are essential for optimal gut health.
Avocado oil, much like the glorious fruit it comes from, is high in nutritional value. It is high in monounsaturated oleic acid, which is great for your heart as it lowers blood pressure, risks of heart disease and levels of cholesterol. If that wasn’t enough, avocado oil actually supports your body’s ability to absorb antioxidants from other foods, making it the perfect addition to your lunch time salad.
Avocado oil is perfect for cooking at high temperatures. It holds a very high smoke point, the temperature at which the oil begins to visibly smoke, which means that it maintains its rich flavour and high level of nutrients when used for cooking. This amazing flavour means it is also perfect for drizzling over a salad or roasted veggies!
When buying avocado oil, make sure you are only buying brands that are 100% pure and, to be sure you’ll reap the benefits, opt for the organic cold-pressed option.
…Perfect for roasting, dressings and dipping!
Otherwise known as the ‘nectar of the gods’, olive oil (especially the extra virgin variety) is undoubtedly a powerhouse source of healthy fats as well as having numerous other nutritional benefits.
Olive oil is made up of healthy fats with around 30% being omegas 3 and 6 and the other 70% being the monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oleic acid has highly anti-inflammatory properties, which are essential in reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. Olive oil is also known for being a skin saviour, providing protection against skin damage and aging. Not only this, olive oil is also wonderful source of anti oxidants which will strengthen and protect your immune system, making you more resistant to infections.
How should you use it? Save normal olive oil for roasting at lower temperatures and organic extra virgin olive oil for serving cold as it has a lower smoking point. Heated too high, extra virgin olive oil can produce potentially harmful compounds due to the oxidative damage. There is still confusion about heating olive oil, but until more evidence is revealed, we like to stick to the rule above. We love mixing a tablespoon of olive oil with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt to create the perfect addition to your salad that will keep you satisfied and help avoid that 4pm slump.
words by Lucy Edgerley
More articles we think you’ll love…