Know the oily truth to make a healthier choice in your cooking
Ever felt overwhelmed by the variety of cooking oils in the supermarket aisle? With so many options, it is difficult to decide on the best. You’re likely to just pick up a familiar bottle and continue on your way.
We’ve put together a simple guide to demystify the process and help you choose a cooking oil to prepare healthier meals for your family.
First, the bad news: all cooking oil is 100% fat. The term healthy cooking oil is very much a misnomer. Hence, like sugar, oil should be used sparingly.
While oil is 100 percent fat, there are good and bad fats:
As a rough guide, choose oil that contains no more than 35 percent of saturated fat, less than 0.5 percent of trans fat and more than 50 percent of unsaturated fat (as indicated on the Nutritional Information labels). Sounds easy enough? But wait, there’s more.
Related: Introduction to Fats
Smoke Point is the temperature at which oil breaks down and burn, giving food an unpleasant burnt taste. In the process, free radicals harmful to your body are released.
Cooking oils have different smoke points. For example, olive oil, which has gradually found its way into the Singaporean kitchen, has a relatively low smoke point of 199 °C. Although olive oil is widely hailed as a healthy and flavourful option, it is not suitable for high-heat cooking.
So, for deep-frying (from 177 to 232 degrees Celsius) and baking at high temperatures, use oils with higher smoke points.
It is good to have different types of oil in your kitchen for different uses such as drizzling on salads, light cooking or deep-frying. Here is a list of the more common cooking oils available and what they are suitable for.
Related: Getting the Fats Right!
While unsaturated fats are generally better for our bodies, they are prone to oxidisation (reacting with oxygen) and turning rancid. As a general rule, oils that contain more saturated fat, which are less healthy, have the longest shelf life, followed by monounsaturated then polyunsaturated.
Here are a few helpful tips on storing oil:
Related: Trim the Fat
Although you can’t control the type of oil used outside, you can dine at more than 2,900 food eateries that use healthier oil, which has no more than 35 percent saturated fat and 0.5 percent trans fat. Simply look out for stalls that carry the healthier oil decal.
In conclusion, follow the guidelines below when choosing your next bottle of cooking oil:
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