A Guide to Oils

Plant Oils are derived from both the plant itself and the seeds of the plant. The benefits of plant oil for the body and mind are numerous when expressed from the plant properly. Not all plant oils are healthy simply because they are derived from plants.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself when selecting a plant oil.

Avoid the word “Refined” when purchasing a plant oil. “Refined” oils are often subjected to high temperatures (which damage and morph the cells of the plant) and harsh chemicals (think bleach, solvents, and deodorizers) that strip them of many beneficial nutrients. Instead look towards “Virgin” or “Extra Virgin” oils that are simply ground and then centrifuged to separate the seed mush from that oil.  “Extra Virgin” differs due to the rigorous criteria for purity and chemical composition needed to meet the label standard.  An important factor to remember is you are looking for an oil that is as close to its natural form as possible; i.e. it had very few steps from plant to oil and nothing added in to “refine” the product. Pressing, separation, and bottling are as complicated as we want here.

No plant oils aside from Coconut should be solid at room temperature. This is a very visual cue that the oil has been chemically altered.  A few butters that are the exception are cocoa and shea as well. The reason Coconut, Cocoa, and Shea are all solid at room temperature naturally is due to their high saturated fat content.

In general we want 1/3 of our total dietary fat intake from saturated fats, 1/3 from monounsaturated fats, and 1/3 from polyunsaturated fats—mostly omega-3 fatty acids.

Below is a guide to cooking with these wonderful plant oils and how to prepare foods with them properly, without over heating the oil and potentially destroying the beneficial nutrients they contain. Enjoy!

 

Coconut Oil:

Smoking Point: 350 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Pan-Frying, Baking, Dressings, Coatings

Benefits: High in Vitamin E, vitamin K, and iron; antibacterial and antiviral properties

 

Olive Oil:

Smoking Point: 320 to 468 Degrees depending on variety

Uses: Cooking, Deep-Frying, Grilling, Sautéing, Bakings, Broiling, Searing, Dressings, Coatings

Benefits: High in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, polyphenols, and monounsaturated fats

 

Almond Oil:

Smoking Point: 420 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Sautéing, Stir-frying, Pan-frying, Dressings

Benefits: High in monounsaturated fats, proteins, and Vitamin E

 

Soybean Oil:

Smoking Point: 450 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Baking, Dressings, Shortenings

Benefits: High in Omega-6 Fatty Acids, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, and monounsaturated fats

 

Grapeseed Oil:

Smoking Point: 420 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Stir-frying, Sautéing, Dressings

Benefits: High in Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E

 

Sunflower Oil:

Smoking Point: 450 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Baking, Frying, Dressing, Shortening

Benefits: High in Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E

 

Canola Oil:

Smoking Point: 400 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Baking, Sautéing, Dressings, all-purpose

Benefits: High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids and monounsaturated fats

 

Palm Oil:

Smoking Point: 446 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Baking, Sautéing, Frying, Dips, Flavoring

Benefits: High in antioxidants, carotenoids, sterols, Vitamin E, and medium chain fatty acids

 

Flaxseed Oil:

Smoking Point: 446 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Baking, Sautéing, Frying, Dips, Flavoring

Benefits: High in antioxidants, carotenoids, sterols, Vitamin E, and medium chain fatty acids

 

Avocado Oil:

Smoking Point: 520 Degrees

Uses: Cooking, Sautéing, Dressings, Stir-Frying, Pan-Frying

Benefits: High in monounsaturated fats, proteins, and Vitamin E

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