Oil Types & Fried Foods
Olive oil, seed oils, coconut oil.. Which type of oil should I eat and cook with? And how much is too much? Plus some tips on reducing the amount of oils and hidden fats you consume.
More concerns over cooking oils! I have always chosen extra virgin olive oil as it remains the best choice for heart, brain and overall health, shown through proper research. It contains mono-unsaturated fats and has an impressive array of beneficial phytochemicals. Here is some recent published research - here. This shows the benefits of olive oil over other cooking oils, including it improving LDL cholesterol and improving blood glucose when consumed with a meal.
I am often asked about coconut oil and its hyped ‘benefits’. There is not much good research to actually support these claims made, and if we were to actually look at the evidence, olive oil is the clear winner. I like to consume a variety of fats mainly from nuts, fish, avocado, and other whole foods, but when it comes to oils I mainly use a little extra virgin olive oil. I also sometimes use a little coconut oil when the dish calls for the flavour. The key in these sentences is that I use a LITTLE of the oils when I need to, usually not more than a tablespoon for a meal. I also try to avoid deep-fried foods most of the time.
Having a little butter or coconut oil is fine, as long as you consume a healthy, plant rich diet day to day. The real issue with oils is when we use them to deep-fry foods, heating a lot of oil to cook foods in. We should definitely try to avoid eating fried foods too often, and try to eat foods cooked in other ways!
Deep-fried foods, and foods that are cooked with a lot of oil, are simply high in fat and often the types of fats that are not great for your health. Many restaurants cook and fry foods in oils to enhance taste (some oils containing trans fats which are bad for our heart health). Because of the high fat content, it is no surprise that oil heavy foods are very high in calories- making it more likely you will eat more calories than you need, therefore causing you to gain weight. Keep in mind that many deep-fried foods are also coated in some type of batter, so they can absorb even more fat, eg: some potato chips, potato cakes, fish fillets, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, chicken schnitzel / parmigiana, dim sims, crumbed meats, falafel balls, spring rolls, dumplings , etc.
Try to eat fresher foods over fried ones, and try to get your dietary fat from healthy whole foods instead. If you need to use some oil to cook, instead of frying it try dipping a food brush in the olive oil and lightly brushing it over the food, then baking it in the oven. You can do this with meats, hand-made potato chips and all veggies! Olive oil is great for stir-fry’s and natural homemade salad dressings, but in order to watch your weight try not to use a heavy pour and measure out a tablespoon instead. I also minimise oils by adding ¼-½ a cup of water to my stir-fry’s to get them cooking, and then add some herbs/spices, mustards or soy sauces for flavour.