**this has been a review for Mom’s Meet, all opinions are my own**
When you are looking to live a healthier lifestyle, the choice of oil you use is sure to come up.
Whether it’s for baking, sauteeing, or making homemade salad dressings, the choice of oil DOES matter. You have most likely heard that you need to use an unsaturated fat for “heart health”. If you are like me, you wondered how our ancestors didn’t have the heart problems they had, consuming all the saturated fats they did.
Of course, not all oils should be used in every single occasion. Some are great for hot purposes, such as sauteeing and frying, and some should only be used in cold purposes, such as salad dressings.
So, what oils should you use? When?
There are two main groups of oils, saturated and unsaturated. Let’s look at what saturated and unsaturated means. Unsaturated fats are normally liquid at room temperature, and are plant based. This would include olive, corn, soybean, peanut, safflower, and cottonseed oils. An unsaturated fat is a fat or fatty acid in which there is at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain. A fat molecule is monounsaturated if it contains one double bond, and polyunsaturated if it contains more than one double bond. Where double bonds are formed, hydrogen atoms are eliminated.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and are normally animal based. This would include tallow, butter, lard, schmaltz, (chicken fat) as well as coconut oil and palm oils. A saturated fat has no double bonds, has the maximum number of hydrogens bonded to the carbons, and therefore is “saturated” with hydrogen atoms. In cellular metabolism, unsaturated fat molecules contain somewhat less energy (i.e., fewer calories) than an equivalent amount of saturated fat.
When you are cooking, what kind of oil you use is important. If the oil is mostly saturated or fully saturated, it’s pretty stable. The oil will not break down as fast in the heat and go rancid. The unsaturated fats can be anyone’s guess as to how high the heat can go before it breaks down. Heating unsaturated fats at high temperatures creates trans-fatty acids, which produce toxic free radicals in the body and are very dangerous to our health. When oils are repeatedly reheated, trans-fatty acids are created. Trans-fatty acids can be very harmful to your health, and it’s been suggested they lead to cancer or premature aging.
For sauteeing, you want to stick with saturated fats. Coconut oil, tallow, or schmaltz are all great for sauteeing and add extra flavor. Butter is great as well, but you need to be careful not to burn it when you are heating it up. Thinking ahead and sauteeing your veggies lightly with just a bit of butter and finishing it off with a high quality olive oil is a great way to add flavor with a true heart healthy touch.
For salad dressings, finishing oil, dipping sauces and making hummus, olive oil is a quality choice. It has been linked to healthy benefits, and many suggest it may reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss and more.
When you are thinking of quality olive oil, try Zucchi extra virgin olive oil. Made from the first cold pressing of the fruit, it has not been heated so as to create the free radicals you want to avoid. It’s light flavor is smooth, sweet and has all the flavor of olives from Greece, Italy and Spain combined. Great for a finishing oil, or for homemade salad dressings, Zucchi is a favorite in our household!
What is your favorite olive oil to use? How do you use it? Be sure to pin this for later!