If you often cook at home, you probably use different types of oils for your food. The oil is used as an ingredient in the composition of the dishes, but is also used for frying. Vegetable oil probably is the most commonly used of all oils. It is often part of different recipes and used for frying. Vegetable oil can be simple or a mixture of several oils, such as corn, soybean, sunflower and palm.
Types of oils and their properties
– Canola or rapeseed oil – Experts have determined that canola oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils. This is possible thanks to its low content of saturated fat and therefore high amount of monounsaturated fat. It is recommended for frying, but only for temperatures up to 220 degrees Celsius. If this temperature is exceeded, the nutrients which have positive effects on health are destroyed. Canola oil does not contain too many antioxidants and has the largest amounts of alpha-linolenic acid and Omega 3 fats.
– Corn oil – is relatively low in both saturated fat and monounsaturated fat . It is used both for cooking and for frying. Should be used for frying only at average temperature.
– Sunflower Oil – This oil has less saturated fat and is rich in vitamin E. It is an oil suitable for people who have the level of cholesterol high and to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Many food manufacturers recognize the health benefits of sunflower oil and they prefer it in the composition of the cosmetics that they produce. It is recommended for both frying and cooking, and for making salad dressings.
– Coconut oil – It is recommended for cooking by many experts. It seems that it can prevent the harmful action of free radicals on the body. It is rich in vitamins, including vitamins E and K. Coconut oil helps lower bad cholesterol levels, provides the body with energy and multiple benefits, thanks to saturated acids which raise the density of lipoproteins in the body and lower bad cholesterol, stimulating immunity and fighting against aging. Coconut oil helps increase metabolism and hence the weight loss.
– Olive oil – There are several varieties of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin or refined. Extra virgin olive oil is the most commonly used. Olive oil can be used both for cooking, salads, sautéing, and the composition of other dishes. This is the healthiest of all oils, it is rich in mono-unsaturated fats, which help reduce the risk of occurrence of cardiovascular disease, help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the body.
– Peanut oil – It is a type of oil you should use for frying at high temperatures and is rich in monounsaturated fats. It can be used in salad dressings.
– Palm oil – Contains vitamin E, beta-carotene, and a lot of phytochemicals that have an important role in protecting the body from free radicals. It is rich in antioxidants that protect the body against cancer and chronic disease. It contains both saturated fats and monounsaturated fats, the kind found in olive oil. But, unlike olive oil, palm oil has a natural resistance to oxidation, who makes it a healthier and safer oil for cooking and frying. Although some antioxidants are destroyed in the food preparation process, it is more resistant than other types of oils.
How to store the oil
All oils must remain liquid when kept at room temperature. The best thing would be to store the oil in a dry dark place such as a pantry. Also, the container should be of dark glass. Repeated exposure to any light source may be harmful.
Heat and light can alter oils, especially polyunsaturated ones. The latter can be kept on the shelves at the bottom of the refrigerator to avoid rancidity. Even if the oil solidifies in the fridge, it does not affect its quality.
Oils rich in monounsaturated fat can be stored up to one year, while refined olive oil (which has the highest amount of monounsaturated fats) may be stored up to a few years. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils can be used about a year after opening. Shelf life of most of the oils after opening, is usually six to eight months. To prevent oxidation and rancidity tighten the bottle cap.
Do not insert objects or unsterilized things in the cooking oils. Bacteria accelerate the degradation of the oil. Pour the amount you wish to use in pots for cooking and never put the excess back into the bottle.
Another important fact to avoid is discarding the used cooking oil in the sink, because it can clot and can block pipes. The best alternative is to put the used oil in a container that can be sealed, which you then throw in the trash.