Which oils to use for cooking?

Stuck on the one and only sunflower oil or still cooking on olive oil? Oh no! Check this out for inspiration!

coconut and olive oil

A superfood that goes a long way. Coconut oil is very suitable for cooking (especially Asian meals) at high temperatures. It is also perfect for desserts and cakes. It is rich in unsaturated fats and has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It is solid at room temperature (and in the fridge ofcourse, where you can keep it if you do not use it often) but if you live somewhere really warm (or if you heat it or leave it out in the sun) it will become a transparent liquid. Coconut oil will keep for a long time (just use a clean spoon to dip it out each time). You can buy it in organic food stores. Make sure it is cold pressed (so that it has not lost its benefits through a refining process)! P.s. aside from cooking with it, you can even put a bit of coconut oil on your hands in the winter to keep them moisturised!

Since I found this oil, I do not use sunflower oil anymore. Sesame oil is a true superfood that even has cancer preventing properties. Sesame oil is suitable for cooking at high temperatures. It has a bit of a nutty flavour, so you have to experiment a little with which dishes you like it best. I prefer using sesame oil for frying meat over using coconut oil (because I don’t want my beef to taste coconutty!). You can get it at some supermarkets and all organic food stores. It is less pricey than coconut oil and because of its savoury flavour can be used for making most dishes. I like it as a replacement of the (usually very healthy) sesame seeds, because many sesame seeds are not packaged and stored properly, which causes them to grow a very carcinogenic aflatoxin.

The newest hype – but not a bad one! Avocado is a fruit rich in fatty acids. Nigella Lawson says she always eats a lot of avocado’s to have a glossy coat (and she means her hair) – that is because avocado brings moisture to our skin and hair from the inside (sounds weird, but it’s true!). Avocado oil is not suitable for cooking, but is suitable for mixing into salads. You can buy it (it is very pricey, I would rather recommend just buying a real avocado and eating that instead) at organic food stores.

A friend pointed out to me that olive oil is one of the most ‘fraud’ groceries – often we think we are buying pure cold pressed olive oil, all the while this is not true at all and our product has been mixed with other oils and not so cold-pressed at all. I think one give-away are olive oils that are in transparent bottles – olive oil quality goes down when exposed to sunlight, so most good olive oil producers package their olive oil in dark glass bottles. Still, I don’t know which brands are the best (but might google that later) but I do know you can not go wrong by finding a local farmer who produces olive oil. Okay … in a lot of regions (including mine), this is difficult – and expensive! So, my second best bet is my local health food store. When you have found some good olive oil – what to do with it? Olive oil is not suitable for cooking, because it is too delicate for high temperatures. You can use it in all salads, and it makes a great combination with vinegar (for example the super healthy apple cider vinegar) to make a great dressing. It is a very healthy oil, so if you find a good one – use it often!

Okay, this is not an oil for cooking. But I had to mention it. If you are one of those people who does not eat fish on a weekly basis, you might consider including mercury-free fish oil in your diet for your daily supply of Omega-3. What is the point of that? In short, most chronic diseases these days are in part caused by chronic inflammation in our body (arthritis, diabetes complications, Alzheimer’s disease, various cancers). Omega-3 is an anti-inflammatory compound. Most of the things we eat contain a lot of Omega-6, which is a pro-inflammatory agent. For our body, it is important to have the right balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6, which is 3:1. Since most of us consume too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3 (from wild salmon, mackerel, shrimps) it might be a good idea to have some fish oil as a supplement. It’s difficult to find good fish oil – you can try pharmacies focused on natural products or health food stores! If you find a good one – it is worth the price!