Healthiest Oils For Cooking

by Elizabeth
(Nashville, TN)

Question:

Cathleen, You're my "go to" girl. I couldn't find anything on your site specific to this. What kind of oil should I be purchasing??? Unrefined or refined? Safflower or sesame? Organic or not? Thanks a bunch!

Answer:

Okay, great questions. I personally take a macrobiotic, holistic stance to food and believe that food should be as whole as possible. So, along those lines...

I go with unrefined rather than refined. I have not done
tons of research on this, but the less refinement a food
source has, the closer it is to its original form, so the more health benefits it retains. The refinement process inevitably cuts away some of the nutritional benefits that we are trying to derive from our foods.

Safflower and sesame have totally different flavors, so it depends on what I'm cooking. Tons of Asian dishes have sesame and I love the flavor of it. Safflower has less flavor, so it can be used for more versatile cooking.

With oils, I try to stick to organic. When I'm getting ANYTHING with corn, soy, wheat, or tomatoes, I only buy organic or local from farmer's markets. Those vegetables are the most abused by the food industry and when they are "conventional" they can be genetically modified, full of pesticides, irradiated, and a host of other disgusting and harmful abuses. So, for corn oil and soybean oil, I suggest organic. It will cost more, but it's worth it; not only for the protest you give the food industry against all of the above, but for your health.

I have read that heating certain oils will destroy their healthful properties and can even create dangerous properties as a backlash. Olive oil seems to often be the target of these allegations. I haven't personally read about this and don't have a stand on it, so anyone who does, we'd love to hear from you.

You could also look into coconut oil, which makes for wonderful baking oil and retains its healthful properties at high temperatures.

Hope that helps you to figure out the healthiest cooking oils.

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