Choosing the right cooking oil

I have been promising this blog post for a while, but have been pretty busy with business trips and the garden to actually sit my butt down and write it. Luckily though, I have a couple days off after a trip to see the family in the UK.

During my short stay in the UK, I discovered quite a few family and friends on the Slimming World scheme. As I am doing a nutrition course, it made me quite curious about how it works. Because it clearly does work. Actually, what pushed me to finally write this post is the fact that Slimming World tells people to use the 1kcal oil sprays.

For me, anything that has less of what it does in its natural state triggers alarm bells. When I asked what was in this oil spray to make it 1kcal, I got back a “don’t know”, so I headed to the supermarket to find out…

IMG_8369

Firstly, it’s clear from the supermarket shelves that spray oils are all the rage in the UK. This fad hasn’t quite hit Germany yet, at least not that I am aware of, and I’m not sure it will.

After closer inspection of the “Frylight Sunflower Oil Spray” (not pictured above) I found the following ingredients: Sunflower Oil (53%), Water, Alcohol, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin, Natural Flavouring, Thickener: Xanthan Gum.

So, basically just under half of the oil is not oil! It’s thinned with water and alcohol (!!) and then they go and add flavouring and thickener, so it tastes and acts like it would have done without the tampering!! (Can you tell I am angered by this?!)

The only two oil sprays I saw (in my very brief visit to the supermarket) was the ‘pure’ oils (pictured above) from Tesco. You’ll notice the kcal per spray is not 1 but 6kcal, but at least you’re getting JUST the oil!

So, what should we look out for when choosing an oil?

Moving on from my mini-rant, there are 2 main things to consider when choosing an oil:

What is the omega 6:3 ratio?

Like with anything we eat, we should consider the the effect on our bodies. Most experts claim the ratio of omega 6 (pro-inflammatory) to omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) should range from 1:1 to 5:1. A higher 6:3 ratio can have negative effects on your health. Read more and see the ratios for different types of fat in this article.

How are you going to use the oil?

It’s important to know to what degree you will heat up the oil, as each oil has a ‘smoke point’, which affects the taste and can cause unwanted chemical reactions (see telegraph story on aldehydes). Where possible we should avoid these nasty free radicals.

Recommendations

Based on the above, I use the following oils that most experts recommend:

Heavy Frying: Coconut Oil / Ghee / Butter
The great thing about coconut oil is it does not store in the body like other fats. The body uses what it needs and excretes the rest.

Light Frying: Rapeseed Oil
I’ve noticed that canola and rapeseed oil are used interchangeably. Be careful with canola oil, which is genetically modified rapeseed oil.

Salads: Olive Oil
Mix a bit of olive oil with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for a simple salad dressing.

As with any food you buy, choose local and organic to ensure you get the best quality ingredients.

Happy cooking!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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