The low-down on oils Our guide
So many oils, so much information – and a lot of it conflicting. If you’re confused about what to use and why, here’s our cheat sheet!
We’ve been so afraid of fat in the past – and by default, oils too – that it’s dicult to embrace the message that it’s OK to add the good-for-you kind to our diet. Sure, you can splash the olive for just about everything, but are you missing out on a whole menu of flavours and nutritional benefits? Sadly, even good oils can behave badly, so smart choosing and using is key. Here are a few things to remember...
They still count!
No debate, oils are tricky to negotiate. “Less is more with oils,” says nutritionist Rick Hay. “Even though the healthy ones are just that, you shouldn’t go overboard with them, as they still contain kilojoules – about 500 a tablespoon. It’s a dreary word but moderation is key. Keeping them to about a tablespoon a day is fine. Think spritz and drizzle rather than splash and glug!”
Heat changes them
Oils have a smoke point, and cooking past that on too high a heat can release free radicals and toxic chemicals into your food, which in turn can cause inflammation and other problems in the body. Keep it simple and safe by choosing the best for the job. Nutritionist Cassandra Barns gives us her pick... use either for frying or stir-frying,” says Cassandra. “They contain primarily saturated fats, which are more stable and healthier for use at high temperatures.” Don’t fret over the word saturated, as it has added benefits.
GHEE is clarified butter processed to remove anything but the fat – so it can be good for those with a dairy protein or lactose intolerance.
COCONUT OIL has more mediumchain fatty acids, which are used easily for energy, and less likely to be stored as fat in your body.
Olive, avocado and cold-pressed rapeseed (often called canola) oils – “If you want to use a liquid oil for cooking, I’d stick with these,” suggests Cassandra. “They contain more monounsaturated fats, which makes them a bit more stable at higher temperatures than other seed and nut oils.” Buying tip “Choose light olive oil rather than extra virgin, as some of the benefits may be lost when heating the oil.”
Some are best naked...
...and that’s when you get more nutrition bang for your buck. Downing a great plant oil daily will deliver the nutrients and anti-inflammatory benefits for heart and skin health. Well-being expert Liz Earle, author of Skin (Orion), a great book on eating well and using oils, shows the way. “Oils are most nutritious when unheated. I like to make sure I have a tablespoon of good-quality, uncooked oil every day,” says Liz. “This can be in a salad dressing, drizzled over veg or a bowl of soup. One of my very favourite ways of enjoying a good olive oil is to pour some into a little bowl, then dunk in a hunk of good bread. Delicious.” We have our favourites...
GREAT LITTLE DRIZZLERS…
HEMPSEED OIL With omega-3s, good for heart health, as well as magnesium for energy and nervoussystem regulation. Rich and nutty, add it to your morning smoothie.
PUMPKINSEED OIL Loaded with vitamin E and zinc, this gorgeous green oil makes a fabulous salad dressing.
WALNUT OIL Considered to improve blood circulation and heart health, this rich and nutty (as expected!) gem is good for drizzling over veg. w&h
THE HIGH FRYERS...Coconut oil and ghee – “I prefer to