What You Cook with Can Also Make or Break Your Health
Another important aspect when it comes to cooking is the cooking oil you use. Most people still use processed vegetable oils (such as soybean, cottonseed, corn, canola and peanut oil), which tend to be highly unstable. When heated, especially to high temperatures, these oils degrade, forming toxic oxidation products. Researchers have detected more than 100 dangerous oxidation products in a single piece of chicken fried in vegetable oil.
Most of you reading this are now well aware of the dangers of trans fats (which are created when vegetable oil is hardened through the process of hydrogenation), and that the FDA is in the process of banning them completely. That's great news. Unfortunately, trans fats are largely being replaced with vegetable oils, and the oxidation products they produce may actually be more toxic than trans fat!
One particularly worrisome group of volatile compounds created when vegetable oils are heated are aldehydes. They've been shown to be highly inflammatory, and promote the oxidation of LDL cholesterol — both of which promote heart disease. Aldehydes have also been linked to Alzheimer's disease, according to investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, author of the book, "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet."
Vegetable seed oils also contain unbalanced ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, with excessively high amounts of omega-6, and this is yet another way in which these oils promote harmful inflammation in your body.
Best and Worst Cooking Oils
It's very easy to get confused about oils and fats, and there's no shortage of flawed information in circulation. Many doctors in particular are still advising patients to avoid saturated fat, and to stick with a low-fat diet. Unfortunately, such recommendations are surefire recipes for health problems. As noted in an Epoch Times article by "The Clean Team:"
"In the nutrition world, we see a range of diet styles that advocate fat intake between 10 percent to 30 percent. While the amount of fat you eat is very dependent on lifestyle and genetic factors (i.e. how well you breakdown saturated fat, how active you are), what is clear is that fats are important for our health.
Fats are needed for hormone production, building healthy cells, improved skin quality, energy, and help us to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. But not all fats are created equal. The presence of a large amount of poor quality fats in our diet can do real damage to our health. And when we cook with them, we just make the damage even worse."
The Clean Program has published a one-page guide to the best and worst cooking oils. I suggest printing it out for easy reference. Your best options include coconut oil, avocado oil, butter (ideally made from raw organic grass-fed dairy), and ghee (clarified butter). Lard, which is not on their list, is another good old-fashioned option that can safely withstand higher heat without oxidizing.
While cooking, also keep a watchful eye on the smoke produced, as smoke is an indication that the oil is starting to oxidize and degrade, which means production of free radicals and other inflammatory compounds are beginning to form. You can avoid smoke formation by selecting an oil with a suitable smoke rate for the temperature you're using, and/or by lowering the temperature.
Keep in mind that while olive oil is a healthy choice, it should not be used for cooking as it does not withstand heat well. Instead, reserve it for drizzling cold onto salad and other dishes. Flax oil, and other nut and seed oils such as walnut, almond, and pumpkin should also be used cold, and not for cooking.
Also keep in mind that most restaurants use poor quality oils, so they're difficult to avoid if you eat out a lot. You can minimize your exposure by opting for salads, or steamed and baked foods, but brown-bagging your own home-made lunch is by far your best option.