Reading about all the oils on the market and their various health risks and benefits can cause your head to spin a little. It is difficult to sift out which oils are good to use and which are not. I am no expert on cooking oils but it is an area that interests me. I have read widely on the internet regarding this topic including looking at work by wholefoods guru Jude Blereau and the wonderful My New Roots blog.
Over the past year we have changed over to using Rice Bran Oil for a lot of our cooking needs. Rice Bran Oil has a very high smoke point so it is stable at high temperatures which makes it ideal for roasting and frying. It doesn’t impart a strong flavour onto your food and it contains anti-oxidants that remain intact and good for you even when it is heated. It is free of trans fats and cholesterol (which are really bad for you), and contains approximately 23% saturated fats (which are not quite so bad for you), 35% polyunsaturated fats and 42% monounsaturated fats (which are better for you).
Ghee or clarified butter is also very stable and has health benefits from the antioxidants and vitamins that it contains. You can cook with butter but it burns at a much lower temperature than ghee. Undoubtable delicious to cook with, ghee can be expensive to buy and often there is not much choice in brands. You can make your own on the stovetop – check out the ‘Ghee Whiz’ post on My New Roots – or in the thermomix – check out the Dairy Substitutes post on Quirky Cooking.
We still use good quality extra virgin olive oil for cold applications like salad dressings but don’t cook with it. Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point so when heated it breaks down and creates free radicals which are carcinogenic, that is, associated with heart disease and cancer.
Another oil I have read about that is considered good and stable for cooking at high temperatures is coconut oil, but I haven’t gotten around to giving this one a try yet.