A few years ago, a lot of my family members were getting diagnosed with high-cholesterol and heart problems. After hearing reports from the numerous doctors’ visits of my family members and listening to advice from everyone I knew, I started to believe that Olive Oil is the ONLY way to go and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) at that. So I started to buy and cook with EVOO at home and thought I am doing my family a huge favor by feeding them right.
It was not until very recently that I realized the mistake I was making. I had never heard about flash points of oils. And I found out that Olive Oil has a pretty low flash point.
Flash point is the tolerance of oils cooked at high temperatures for long period of time. Oils vary in their flash points. When an oil reaches it flash point – it starts to disintegrate and becomes harmful for consumption. Olive Oil’s flashpoint is about 190 degrees Celsius.
Fats and oils play crucial roles in stabilizing blood sugar levels, providing raw materials in our body for making hormones and contributing to a healthy immune system. So the answer is not to eliminate them from our diet, but rather to find the best kind to use.
Canola Oil and Sunflower Oil are actually very good for cooking at high temperatures. Their flash points 238 and 246 degrees Celsius respectively. Canola Oil is a healthy oil that contains high amounts of monounsaturated fats. Canola Oil is also relatively tasteless, making it a good substitute for shortening or butter in baked goods.
Recently I learned that there is another, not so well known, oil that is actually great for cooking as well: It’s Grapeseed Oil. It is easily available in grocery stores and has 215 degree Celsius flash point. The best part about Grapeseed Oil is that it is high in antioxidants and also contains Vitamin E. It contains the highest amounts of linoleic acid among any oil or food source. Linoleic acid is one of two essential fatty acids that the human body can not produce. Plus one tablespoon of Grapeseed Oil provides nearly the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin E.
Chef Michel Nischan of The Dressing Room in Westport prefers to cook with Grapeseed oil. He says he uses Grapeseed Oil for all his primary cooking at the restaurant. He recommends “Roland” and “Salute Sante” brands of Grapeseed Oil.
Don’t get me wrong, Olive Oil is still great for the body. Just not when cooked at high temperatures. It is best to use it to finish dishes with a drizzle, for dressing your salads, or for light sautéing…. and my personal favorite: for dipping in with a great piece of bread.