Friday, July 30, 2010


We need fats in our diet, but we should choose mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats over saturated fats whenever possible. This means choosing vegetable oils in preference to solid animal fats.

Whatever kind of vegetable oil you choose, it is best to remember that all vegetable oils are 100% fat and one tablespoon contains 99kcals/416kjoules! And even vegetable oils contain saturated fats. Coconut oil is about 95% saturated fat but sunflower oil is only 10% saturated fat, and safflower and rapeseed oils are less than 10% saturated fat. We need to cut down our intake of saturated fats, so using coconut oil for cooking is probably not a good idea.

Another thing you need to consider when cooking with oil is the smoking point. At what temperature will the oil smoke? When heated to smoking point, oil produces an unpleasant odour, the flavour can be spoiled and the vitamin content is reduced. Some oils when heated convert to trans-fatty acids which we definitely don’t want to eat.

Olive oil, whether from the first, second or subsequent pressings, is not suitable for cooking. Keep it for use as a salad dressing. It is very expensive, so use sparingly. Olive oil will keep for up to a year in the fridge, or up to six months on the counter top.

The best choice for cooking is corn or sunflower oil. These are both suitable for heating to high temperatures.
I very seldom use oil in cooking, preferring a non-stick cooking spray, which serves the same purpose. If I do use oil – probably no more than a teaspoonful at a time – I choose sunflower oil.

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