Diet and Nutrition

The Healthy Way to Cook With Oil

February 12, 2019

Dr. Mark Hyman has been one of the more popular leaders in the Functional Medicine and nutrition fields in recent years. Many people follow his advice when it comes to what we should and should not be eating. In particular, Dr. Hyman has taken a strong stance when it comes to cooking oils.

Let’s explore Dr. Hyman’s approach when it comes to cooking oils and find out which oils we should be cooking with, which ones we should avoid, and why.

Which Cooking Oils are Best?

According to Dr. Hyman, as well as many other Integrative-Health professionals, some of the best cooking oils include coconut oil, butter, and lard. You may be surprised to find these on Dr. Hyman’s list of healthy cooking oils as butter, lard, and even coconut oil have not always enjoyed a reputation as healthy choices. The saturated fat content of these often turns people off from using them. However, their saturated fats have been found to increase HDL cholesterol which is the type of cholesterol we actually do want more of.  So, if Dr. Hyman is correct, we should not be avoiding these oils at all but should be using them instead of refined and processed vegetable oils.

Let’s take a closer look at why these are excellent choices for cooking.

Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is great for cooking anything up to 350℉. You can use coconut oil in baking recipes as well as low to medium-heat sautéing.

Ghee: Ghee is clarified butter, so it is often better tolerated than regular butter or other dairy products. Ghee is great because it has a smoke point of 400-500℉ and is rich in important vitamins like vitamin D and even omega-3 fatty acids. You can use ghee for your high-heat cooking needs.

Lard: This animal fat is another good option when it comes to cooking as it has a smoke point of about 370℉, so it can be used for your low to medium heat cooking needs.

Other Options: Some other great options recommended by Dr. Hyman include olive oil for low heat cooking, avocado oil, and macadamia or walnut oil. These also make excellent marinades or salad dressings.

Cooking Oils to Avoid

On top of looking at the oils we want to be cooking with, Dr. Hyman also recommends staying away from vegetable oils. Oils like corn, soy, safflower, and canola are all extremely inflammatory. These oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. When consumed in excess, these oils can disrupt your omega-3 fatty acid balance. Unfortunately, foods in the Standard American Diet are often very high in omega-6 fatty acids, so many of us may already be getting more omega-6 vs. omega-3 fats. A great way to reduce your omega-6 fatty acid intake is to completely eliminate these oils from your diet.

What Else to Look Out for With Cooking Oil?

In addition to the types of oil you do want to be cooking with, Dr. Hyman recommends taking a look at a couple of other things as well. He stresses the importance of buying organic and cold-pressed or expeller pressed oils, and GMO-free or hexane-free oils.

Hexane can be a major issue when it comes to cooking oils. This chemical is made from crude oil and is used in the extraction process of vegetable oil. Crude oil is unrefined petroleum, so it is definitely not something we want to expose ourselves to. Exposure to too much can be toxic and has been linked to neurological issues. While exposure through food is not likely to cause a hexane toxicity, it is best to avoid it.  

Looking for additional ways to make your cooking oils healthier? Once you decide which oils you want to cook with, be sure you are storing your oils in a dark glass jar away from heat. If the oil you purchase doesn’t come in a dark glass jar, you can easily purchase one online or locally and transfer your oils to it. While storing your oil may not seem all that important, it makes a big difference in preventing them from going bad!

Cooking Healthy

The bottom line is that we need to be staying away from oils high in omega-6 fatty acids and sticking to healthier options that not only help support health and wellness, but also have a higher smoke point, making them less likely to break down when exposed to heat.

Make the switch to healthier cooking oils today to help reduce inflammation, cut back on your omega-6 fatty acid intake, and support overall health. While it may seem like a small dietary change, it can make a big difference in your long-term health!

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