I truly love olive oil, so this isn’t about convincing you to get rid of your beloved stash of flavor-infused olive oils that you toss your salads in, along with every conceivable flavor of balsamic vinegar. Or is that just me?
Olive oil actually is a very healthy oil, when used moderately and in the right way. It is an easy-to-digest monounsaturated fat, which is liquid both at room temperature and when refrigerated. Used within the right perameters, there are numerous benefits to this oil: it lubricates your joints, keeps skin supple, and keeps your arteries flexible, which also makes for a happy heart.
If you aren’t familiar with different types of oils, I’ll be covering them more in upcoming posts. But for now, here’s what you need to know: Not all oils are meant to be cooked with at high heats. Different types of oils break down at different temperatures (aka: smoking point), making some suitable for lower but not higher heats. Some oils should just not be used at all for cooking, but are fine for dressings/uncooked sauces. When oils are used beyond the smoking point, it creates carcinogens and toxins; not something we want to ingest or inhale.
(I always have this on hand, any brand of organic can work)
Olive oil is fine for low to medium heat cooking, so as long as you aren’t cranking up the burner, such as simmering a sauce where you want the full-flavor added, it’s perfectly safe. Another way to cook with olive oil when you do need a higher heat, is to begin sautéing with broth, and adding the olive oil at the end of the cooking time. This way you still get the flavor, without adding toxins.
What to use instead?
For High Heat: (these are all safe above 450°)
- Almond Oil. Light, neutral flavor, safe up to 500°
- Avocado Oil. Neutral flavor, delicious with just about anything.
- Tea Seed Oil. (Not to be confused with Tea Tree Oil). Light flavor, safe up to 485° Good substitute for olive oil or grape seed oil, low in saturated fat.
- Sesame Oil. Delicious with many vegetables & stir-fries, Asian or Thai flavored dishes.
(So happy to finally have Trader Joe’s in Salt Lake City)
For Medium-High Heat: (these are between 360° and 450°, also good for baking)
- Coconut Oil. My favorite oil, deserving of its own post(s). Try it with just about everything.
- Walnut Oil. Adds a slight walnut flavor, which is a nice blend in sauces.
- Grapeseed Oil. Neutral flavor, bright emerald green.
For Medium Heat: (these are between 325° and 350°)
- Olive Oil! What isn’t good with olive oil? (Also a fantastic makeup remover)
- Toasted Sesame Oil. Imparts delicious, richer flavor than regular sesame oil.
(so tasty for fall viniagrette dressings)
Other oils that are healthy, but should only be used after cooking, or in dressings/raw sauces:
- Hazelnut Oil
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Flax Seed Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Sunflower Seed Oil
All of the oils that I have mentioned are the ones I personally feel are healthy. If they are not on the list, there is a reason. For instance, “vegetable oil” is HIGHLY processed, often comes from GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and is often rancid. So if it’s not on this list, please give serious thought as to why you are using it. I know many people who just buy it because they always have without really thinking about it. There is also a lot of money put into advertising the oils that aren’t really good for us, and little to none for the oils that really do benefit us. Try some new varieties–although some are a little bit expensive, many recipes only require a tablespoon or two at a time, so you get a lot of use typically from one container.
Quick storage tip: Always make sure oils are stored away from sunlight to prolong life and prevent rancidity.
If I can answer any questions, please post them below.