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With more and more customers becoming cautious of the foods they consume and what they are made from, it has become harder for chefs to meet all dietary requirements. So, we took the hard work out of the equation and found the healthiest oils you can cook with, in your kitchen to keep on top of the rising health requirements. To do so, we sat down with Accredited Practising Dietitian, Ashleigh Feltham to find out the ins and outs of the best oils on the market and how you can put them to good use in your kitchen.
While oils are usually perceived as the devil in cooking, Ms. Feltham insisted there are some good in the products. She explained that chefs can still cook with the ingredient but research is needed to ensure they are using the best that’s on offer. “The healthiest oils on the market are those with more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in their composition,” Ms. Feltham went into detail.
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According to the Heart Foundation Australia, food venues should start to think about their oils and changing them if they aren’t considered healthy for the customer. “Replacing cooking oils that are high in saturated fat and trans fat with healthy oils is an important step in helping reduce heart disease risk,” they stated. Their website also recommends hospitality venues to use healthier options that are on the market such as canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and soybean oil.
When discussing the healthier oils on the market, Ms. Feltham revealed chefs can’t go past olive oil. “It is juiced directly from the olive without chemical extracting or processing from heat.,” she explained, adding: “This means it [extra virgin olive oil] is very high in antioxidants.” Ms. Feltham added: “The high antioxidant properties of extra virgin olive oil can help improve general heart health.” Olive oil is commonly used in a kitchen as a salad dressing, in baking and to be drizzled over breads and pastas. And while it is known to be an all-purpose oil, olive oil cannot be used for frying at high temperatures because it has a low smoke level.
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Sunflower oil is also a type of vegetable oil that has created some confusion as to whether or not it is a healthy option for kitchen usage. While it has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fats, it also contains a high amount of Vitamin E. According to the Heart Foundation Australia, sunflower oil is also one of the healthier vegetable oils that’s on the current oil market. Sunflower oil can be used in the kitchen as a substitute for lard, shortening and regular stovetop cooking. It can also be used to line baking dishes and pans, as well for deep-frying and shallow-frying.
Then there is canola oil. Canola oil is one of the healthiest options when it comes to oils, along with olive oil and sunflower oil. According to the Heart Foundation Australia, canola oil has the least saturated fat of any common cooking oil. Vitamin E is also found in canola oil, as well as a high amount of Omega 9. Along with the obvious health benefits, canola oil is a versatile oil that can be used in the kitchen. It can be used as dressings and for shallow frying, pan frying and baking.
While olive oil, sunflower oil and canola oil top the list of the best on the market, Ms Feltham has recommended chefs distance themselves from coconut oil. Despite mixed reports in the media and by fellow chefs, Ms Feltham explained, “coconut oil has more of the saturated fat component than butter”. She continued: “coconut oil is made up of 92% saturated fat…coconut oil is also high in a fatty acid known as lauric acid. “These types of fatty acids can mimic the health effects of unsaturated fats by increasing the ‘good’ of HDL-cholesterol,” Ms Feltham said. She added that just one teaspoon of coconut oil has 505kJ. So, next time you put together your oil order, consider the benefits of each type and explore the areas you can work with them in the kitchen.