Healthy Oils: Salad Dressings, Cooking & More

From olive and flax to coconut, there is certainly no shortage of oils on the market, but their uses, flavor profiles and properties vary. The oils we have deemed healthiest for use in the Nourished® kitchen include: extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and grass-fed ghee. Each has a unique nutrition profile and smoke point that offer specific guidance on how to use them. Smoke points are especially important to consider when it comes to choosing a cooking oil.

Highlights:

  • From olive and flax to coconut, there is certainly no shortage of oils on the market, but their uses, flavor profiles and properties vary.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils varieties, but it has a low smoke point; therefore, we recommend using it for raw food preparations (i.e. salad dressing) rather than cooking.
  • With smoke points between 425-520°F, avocado oil, refined coconut oil and grass-fed ghee are best used for cooking techniques such as sauteing, roasting and grilling.
  • We sell organic refined coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil in our Kitchen Market. Stop in Monday-Friday from 9am to 6pm to shop!

“Smoke point” is a number that indicates the maximum temperature an oil can withstand before breaking down and turning into (potentially harmful) free radicals. It is important to avoid heating an oil beyond this number as much as possible—this will protect your body from free radical damage that is associated with premature aging, chronic fatigue, memory decline and cancer cell formation.

Here are the oils that we use and recommend:

  1. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, this oil is heart healthy, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging. A staple to the Mediterranean Diet, extra-virgin olive oil is best used in raw food preparations as it has a lower smoke point that ranges from 325-375°F.

We typically use extra-virgin olive oil in salad dressings or as a finishing drizzle. You can also use this oil for low to medium heat cooking, but we recommend avoiding it for roasting or grilling as these can easily exceed extra-virgin olive oil’s smoke point.

 

  1. Avocado Oil – recognized as a good source of vitamin E, avocado oil also contains carotenoids and oleic acid. These nutrients nourish the skin, promote eye health, and help balance blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

With a smoke point of up to 520°F, this is a great oil to use for high-heat preparations such as grilling, stir frying or cooking above medium on the stovetop. Given that it is liquid at room temperature, avocado oil works well for everything from roasted vegetables to marinades.

 

  1. Coconut oil – solid at room temperature, coconut oil is made up of primarily saturated fats—specifically medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This unique type of fat is quickly burned for fuel rather than stored as fat on the body, thus great for boosting the metabolism and supporting weight loss.

With a smoke point comparable to extra-virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil is best reserved for raw treats such as our  Dark Chocolate Coconut Energy Bites and smoothies such as our Fat Burner Superfood Smoothie. Refined coconut oil, on the other hand, is great for stovetop cooking everything from eggs to sautés as it has a smoke point of approximately 425°F and no tropical flavor. We sell a variety in our Kitchen Market that is minimally refined to extract flavor without compromising the nutritional profile.

 

  1. Grass-Fed Ghee – often referred to as “clarified butter”, ghee is made by removing the milk solids from the fat in butter. Rich, nutty and spreadable, ghee contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and butyrate. These are gut healing and digestion-supportive nutrients that help fight inflammation, and reduce body fat.

Traditionally used in Ayurvedic cooking, ghee has a smoke point of around 480°F. Plus, it is free from lactose and casein, thus easier for dairy-sensitive individuals to tolerate. Considering that conventionally-raised cows are often given antibiotics, hormones and a diet rich in GMO grains, we recommend sourcing grass-fed and organic dairy products.

 

Although the options are vast, you really only need a few oils stocked in your clean eating pantry—extra-virgin olive oil for cold preparations, and avocado oil, coconut oil and ghee for cooking. These options will take you from salad dressings and sauces to roasting and grilling in the healthiest way possible. Unsure of which brands to buy? Stop in and shop the oil selection in our Kitchen Market Monday-Friday from 9am to 6pm!

 

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