I got a question the other day about cooking oils and it’s been asked a few times before, so I thought I’d answer. Keep in mind I’m a physician, not a chef, although I can wrangle pretty well at the stove.
The question was, “Which vegetable oil is the best to cook with and what’s the healthiest?”
The question is actually two questions and there are two answers.
First would be, “which is best to cook with?”
For that I would say peanut oil, although if you asked Mario Batali, there would be strong disagreement. Mario cooks everything in olive oil and having tasted his food a couple of times in New York, he makes a strong case. But personally, I prefer peanut oil.
I have a couple of reasons for this, which are as follows. Peanut oil can be heated to a higher temperature than olive oil and since I like to stir fry, this is important since that kind of cooking depends on high heat. I have been made aware that there are some olive oils that can be heated to quite a high temperature, but they generally are not available to the public. When something isn’t generally available, I don’t recommend getting it.
When you are frying something, the hotter the oil, the better. It seals the food quickly and the food doesn’t absorb as much oil. Peanut oil does a much better job of this than other oils, such as canola, sunflower and corn, and to my mind, it does not have any after taste. Of course…if you are frankly allergic, or peanut sensitive, you’re going to have to use something else.
Now…what’s the healthiest? You have to go with olive oil. Many studies on diet reflect that the European use of olive oil contributes to better diet. So it’s a tossup.
Here’s what to keep in mind, with regard to diet.
All vegetable oils contain 126 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. So just for the sake of argument, if you have a big salad and use 3 tablespoons of dressing, you have added 378 calories and 42 grams of fat. Over the long haul, that adds up to calories that you don’t need.
My advice about oil is to use it judiciously. You really don’t need as much as your eyes tell you is necessary and you can order salad dressings on the side. Then, try to get by using only half of what is provided. I personally don’t use fat free dressings, because they are usually loaded with sugar of some sort. That’s flat out worse for you overall, than is the oil, because it stimulates insulin secretion, which promotes fat in the body.
And you should be taking the King of Oils, which contains the omega-3 essential fatty acids (the good fats that you need), inside the softgel capsules of my Powerhouse Omega Formula. My pharmaceutical grade fish oil is the “grease” that keeps on giving, keeping your arteries in tip top shape, so that your engine gets all the good stuff you need to stay healthy, wealthy and wise:
As that kid said in a cereal commercial a while back, “Hey Mikey…try it…you’ll like it.”