The type of oil we use and the way we use it has varied throughout the years with studies and health scares on cholesterol and heart diseases related to the type of oil we consumed.
There are more than 10 varieties of cooking oil now being made available on supermarket shelves such as avocado oil, grapeseed oil and sunflower oil.
To understand the type of cooking oil you use, we can look into two characteristics:
- Smoke point: The temperature which the oil starts to smoke, break down and get damaged. It can range from 325˚F to a very high 520˚F. When oil breaks down, it’s chemical structure breaks down, changing the taste of the oil, leaving a burnt, bitter flavour and potentially releasing harmful radicals.
- Refined or Unrefined: Refining oil is a process to make the oil more stable, extend it’s shelf life and increases it’s smoke point. This process, however, strips the oil from some nutrients and taste. Unrefined oil are initially pressed and extracted, then bottled, retaining it’s natural nutrients, enzymes and flavour.
Extracted from: The avocado pulp instead of the seed
Smoke Point: High at 470˚F
Taste: Soft, rich, buttery
Price: High because avocados are difficult to process.
Range: RM68-RM110 per 500 ml
Benefit: Found to be most effective in increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL), sometimes called the “good” cholesterol, it removes the bad kind of cholesterol that builds up in your arteries and sends it to your liver.
Usage: Can be drizzled over salad, use it as a marinade before roasting or grilling or frying vegetables
Unrefined/Virgin Coconut Oil
Extracted from: Coconut meat
Smoke Point: 350˚F
Taste: Sweet, nutty
Price: High because virgin coconut oil is made from fresh and high-quality coconut meat
Range: RM40-60 per 500ml
Benefit: Helps with food digestion and eliminates toxic bacteria in gut
Usage: Baking and sautéing. Not suitable for deep-frying
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extracted from: The first pressing of the olives
Smoke Point: 325˚F
Taste: Fruity and Peppery
Price: Medium but beware as some brands cut cost by mixing extra virgin olive oil with cheaper oils. Do check on the contents before purchasing
Range: RM 20-50 per 500 ml
Benefit: Rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, D, E and K
Usage: Dipping bread, preparing salad dressings or marinades and sautéing. Not for deep-frying
Extracted from: Fruit of the oil palms. The seed can be used to extract a different type of oil, Palm Kernel oil
Smoke Point: 440˚
Taste: Subtle Aroma and Neutral Taste
Price: Low as oil palm is one of the most productive oil-bearing crop
Range: RM12-20 per 500ml
Benefit: Studies have linked Palm Oil to potentially preventing vitamin A deficiency
Usage: Ideal for sautéing and deep-frying
Extracted from: Surprise! Truffle oil, which is quite popular nowadays, is not extracted from real truffles. It is made with a chemical called synthetic ,4-dithiapene that mimics the aroma of truffles. Unless you carefully choose one that uses extra virgin olive oil infused with genuine truffles.
Smoke point: Low
Taste: Distinct and pungent
Range: RM60-190 per 500ml
Benefit: If it is made by mixing with olive oil, then you get the benefits of olive oil, which includes improving heart health and brain function and fighting inflammation.
Usage: Only used as a finishing oil, and drizzle it very lightly