We’ve talked often about good fats, but today let’s get down to specifics and talk about choosing the right cooking oil. It may seem like a small thing, but cooking (especially over high heat) with the wrong oil can be extremely unhealthy.
It can make it more difficult for you to lose weight as well.
How Is My Cooking Oil Connected To Weight Loss?
There are a couple of reasons choosing the wrong cooking oils are connected to weight gain. One is that they can be triggers for inflammation, and inflammation causes our weight-control hormone, leptin to be less effective. If you have any inflammatory condition, getting it under control will help you lose weight and keep it off. In a kind of “vicious circle” process, obesity itself leads to inflammation, so when you become overweight, that inflammation can make it harder to lose the excess pounds.
The second reason why it’s so important to choose the right cooking oil when you’re trying to lose weight is that many cooking oils are produced in ways that allow harmful chemicals to be present. Whether it’s the pesticides that creep in during cotton farming, or the extraction chemicals such as hexane that are often present in soybean oil, exposure to harmful chemicals often triggers fat storage. Your body wants to protect you from harmful substances, and it sometimes does that by encasing them in fat cells.
Of course, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, it’s important to choose foods with the best nutritional components and least harmful ones. That’s yet another reason to avoid vegetable oils when you are choosing a cooking oil since most of them are too high in omega 6 fatty acids.
When “Vegetable” Is A Bad Choice
This is possibly the only time you’ll hear me saying not to choose vegetables! When it comes to cooking, vegetable oils are the wrong choice. Here are some of the vegetable oils to avoid, with a few facts about why. For more information, check out the FoodBabe website.
Soybean oil is so common in processed food that 20% of the calories eaten in the US are believed to come from soybean oil. In fact, almost half of worldwide edible oil production is soybean oil.
Any time you see a label that says only “vegetable oil”, odds are good you’re consuming soybean oil. It’s almost always made from GMO crops. In fact, vegetable oil manufacturers have donated millions of dollars to fight GMO labelling in the US. It contains a high level of Omega 6 fatty acids, which most of us are getting too much of in our diets. Consuming soybean oil produces inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been shown to be linked to weight gain. Dr. Mercola calls hydrogenated soybean oil “one of the most harmful ingredients in processed foods” and discusses a connection between partially hydrogenated oil and diabetes, due to interference with insulin receptors.
Cottonseed oil is arguably the worst cooking oil to choose, because when the cotton crop is produced, it isn’t regulated as a food crop – it’s considered to be a textile. Harsh chemicals and pesticides are used, and these find their way into the seed the oil is produced from.
Canola oil is made from rapeseed plants, which used to be avoided as a food source because they contain erucic acid, which causes heart damage to animals. The newer breed of plants contains less of this substance, and has been renamed “Canola”, but it still contains up to 2% erucic acid, which has been deemed safe. Canola oil contains trans fats which are generated during the heavy processing that it gets. These are the most unhealthy fats. You’ll hear canola oil promoted by the industry as high in healthy omega-3 fats, but in fact these may be converted into trans fatty acids during manufacturing, and although “the University of Florida at Gainesville found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil… they are not listed on the label.”
Highly refined from GMO corn and hexane-extracted, corn oil contains high levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. When exposed to high heat it breaks down and generates free radicals which damage cells in the body.
What Are The Best Oils To Cook With?
Coconut oil is your best choice for cooking, because it is least reactive to heat/light and therefore one of the least inflammatory choices. Butter (preferably organic) is also an excellent choice for cooking. Note that margarine is NOT.
The MCTS (medium chain triglycerides) in coconut oil are known to strengthen the immune system, and are associated with healthy weight loss.
The Best Salad Dressing Oil
The best oil for a salad dressing is extra virgin olive oil. It’s not a good choice for cooking, since it breaks down easily under heat, but it’s a tasty and healthy choice for situations where you aren’t cooking, such as making a salad.
Obviously, going overboard with any cooking oil isn’t a good thing, but I hope you’ll see from this article that the everyday choices you make about which cooking oil to purchase are important to support weight loss. Avoiding processed foods and fast food made with unhealthy cooking oils helps too.