- Good vegetable oils are those rich in omega-3 and 9 as these help to reduce hidden inflammation in the body and lower cholesterol levels overall.
- Regardless of the brand or what it says on the bottle, vegetable oils don’t contain cholesterol as plants are unable to synthesize cholesterol themselves. Vegetable oil, therefore, cannot contain cholesterol—don’t be fooled by ads or the hype around.
- Regular vegetable oils can turn into trans-fat if used for frying at very high temperatures and/or repeated frying.
Over the past 5 years there has been a fairly constant back and forth tug-of-war between cooking oil producers over the issue of what type of vegetable oil should be used in the kitchen. Today I’d like to provide you with some simple, unbiased facts that are based on scientific evidence. From this, you can then draw your own conclusions about what type of oil you would like to use, keeping in consideration which is most convenient for you and best meets your needs.
- The color of the oil is not related to the quality of the oil. The light or dark color of various oils is due to the color of the raw materials used in its production. For example, green olives will result in a yellowish-green colored olive oil, whereas brown rice bran will result in a yellowish-brown colored oil.
- All oils contain 3 types of fatty acids—saturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid, and polyunsaturated fatty acid—in varying amounts.
- The Heart Foundation of Thailand under the Royal Patronage recommends the consumption of oils and fats high in monounsaturated fats or MUFA (Omega-9) as these help to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL – C) without reducing the good cholesterol (HDL – C) in the body. This will then help to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease. Vegetable oils in the high-MUFA group include olive oil, canola oil, and rice bran oil.
- Smoke Point is an important factor for consumers to understand and be aware of, as it is used to measure the heat resistance of the oil. When you heat oil to a certain point or temperature, it will begin to smoke and produce fumes, which causes the color and taste of foods to change. Vegetable oils generally have a smoke point of between 227–237°C.
- Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which are in the PUFA or polyunsaturated fatty acids group, are found in vegetable oils, while omega-9 fatty acids are MUFA or monounsaturated fatty acids. In summary, most vegetable oils contain either omega-3, 6, or 9, varying in the proportions of each type of omega they contain. If you are looking to choose healthy vegetable oils, you should look for those that are high in omega 9 or MUFA fatty acids, such as olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, however, is not suitable for frying due to its low smoke point, but it can be used in salads. If you want an olive oil for use in frying, go for the extra light option instead.
- For the omega-3 contained in vegetable oils, this is different from the omega-3 that is present in cod liver oil or cod liver (EPA and DHA) because of molecular structural differences. The omega-3 found in vegetable oils is ALA, which, once it is absorbed into the body, is converted into EPA and DHA.
- If your household is one that particularly likes to eat fried foods, look for oils that can be used for medium to high temperature cooking. Oils in this group are beneficial to the body as they contain high levels of omega-3 and 9. These include such oils as rice bran oil, tea seed oil, avocado oil, canola oil, almond oil and walnut oil. Obviously, the prices of these types of oils can be fairly high, and should be selected appropriate to one’s financial ability.
- While coconut oil contains a moderate amount of fatty acids and is easily digested, because it contains saturated fat, it is not suitable for people with high blood cholesterol levels.
- Saturated oils that should be avoided by those with high total cholesterol levels or those with high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol include lard, palm oil and coconut oil.
Reference Table for Various Oil Smoke Points
High temperature cooking oils 190-270 °C
- Avocado oil: Smoke point 266°C
- Almond oil: Smoke point 257°C
- Rice bran oil: 254°C
- Tea seed oil: 252°C
- Sunflower seed oil: 238°C
- Palm oil: 230°C
Medium temperature cooking oils 170-200 °C
- Safflower oil 232°C
- Canola oil 218°C
- Walnut oil 204°C
- Soybean oil: 182°C
- Peanut oil: 177°C
- Sesame oil: 177°C
- Coconut oil: 177°C
- Lard: 183-205°
Low temperature cooking oils
- Olive oil: 163°C
- Corn oil: 160°C
Oils that should not be used in frying