The right way to cook with oils

Peanut oil is great for salad dressing but can also be used for deep frying foods due to its high smoke point

If one must have a safe meal prepared using cooking oil, it is important for one to learn the characteristics of the fat you are using for cooking oil. 

BY PHIONAH NASSANGA

IN SUMMARY

  • There are several options when it comes to selecting cooking fats and oils.
  • However, you need to learn their characteristics to benefit from them.

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Fats are essential nutrients for our body with several benefits such as cushioning internal organs against injury, enabling digestion and absorbing fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the body.
Wenceslas Sseguya, a nutritionist with Sugar Cubes Uganda, explains that in case of starvation, the body survives on the fats it stores. He says, your choice of oil may help or dent your health depending on the oil you use. He adds that different oils are used differently, depending on the food you are preparing. However, the smoke point of every oil type determines whether it should be used on high heat, low or no heat at all.
“When oil gives off smoke that means some of its valuable nutrients have been broken down to form aldehydes which are dangerous to the body,” Sseguya explains.
Henry Wadada, a chef, reveals that oils with a high smoke point are ideal for high heat cooking such as deep frying while oils with a low smoke point are recommended for low heat cooking like in vegetables.
Wadada adds that after oils are refined removing and all impurities such oils will have a high smoke point making them suitable for deep frying. Generally, the lighter the oil colour, the higher the smoke point.

Oils to use and when
Though many people may not pay attention to which oils they use and for which foods Diana Ndagire, a freelance nutritionist, says, it is good if you take the concern of which oil serves best with what type of foods. Explaining that, Ndagire says, for those that enjoy boiled foods, a little oil will not do them any harm because the body can not completely do away with oils.

In this case vegetable oils especially olive oil is recommended. These are extracted from nature olive fruits and cause no known harm to the body. However, it is also important for one to get familiar with the grades of olive oil. Corn oil can also be used in boiled foods.
Cotton seed oil is ideal for preparing snack such as potato chips with low fats. Peanut oil is great for salad dressing but can also be used for deep frying foods due to its high smoke point.

Other high smoke point oils include avocado oil which is rich in vitamins and minerals, it contains high fat content, and reduces cholesterol.
When baking, roasting and tossing coconut oil is ideal because it is solid at room temperature.
Palm oil goes well with most foods, even snacks. It can also be mixed with other kinds of cooking oils to enhance food flavour. The best way to cook with palm oil is with foods that add acidity to the body such as fresh and processed meat as well as those with a bit sour such as ejjobyo.

Recommendations
Wadada says it is better to do less frying, particularly at high temperature. However, if you must fry, remove oil from foods after frying, perhaps with a paper towel.
Sseguya advises that one uses more of unsaturated fats such as olive oil, sesame oil, as they do not have cholesterol.
Regarding cooking, Wadada says that olive oil is generally recommended for frying or cooking, firstly because lower toxic compounds levels are generated, and secondly the compounds that are formed are actually less threatening to the human body. It is the ideal ‘compromise’ oil for cooking.
Nonetheless, it does not matter whether the olive oil is “extra virgin” or not. “The antioxidant levels present in the extra virgin products are insufficient to protect us against heat-induced oxidation.
Sseguya points out that if you are grilling or roasting food at a high temperature, avocado oil is better than olive oil because it has a higher smoking point.
Besides that, frying in saturate-rich animal fats or butter may be preferable to frying in sunflower or corn oil.

Recycling oil
It is a common practice in most homes and restaurants goaskalice.columbia.edu shares safer ways to reuse oil, though it should not be more than thrice.
Do not mix new and old or different oil types: Reheated oils have lower smoking points than fresh oil while sun flower oil and peanut oil have different smoke points. You may reuse oil in other cooking methods that do not require very high heat such as stir-frying or boiling. Strain it through a few layers of cheesecloth to catch any food particles before storing. Be careful with hot oil, though, because you can easily get burned. However, you need to remove fat from foods before frying.
Turn off the heat after you are done cooking because exposing oil to prolonged heat speeds up rancidity especially after a couple of uses.

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