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How to Choose and Use Healthy Cooking Oil

We live in a time when people are obsessed with eating healthy. Little wonder, for if one must cultivate a healthy lifestyle, one must first learn how to eat right. Eating healthy involves choosing the right ingredients and cooking nutritionally balanced meals. In the long run, these would help in healthy weight maintenance and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

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One very important cooking ingredient is oil. Oil features in almost all our delicacies. Palm oil, in particular, is part of our food landscape. It contains fifty percent unsaturated fat and fifty percent saturated fat. Despite the controversy surrounding it, it’s also said to have a lot of health benefits. However, with everyone talking about cholesterol and heart diseases, people are becoming more conscious of their oil intake. Some people are modifying their cooking methods; some try to avoid oil when possible and to use little when it’s not possible. While these efforts are commendable, we should know what healthy oil consists of and how to pick and use healthy oil for cooking.

Unsaturated fat which comprises more of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is considered healthy fat. They are essentially vegetable fat. Research has shown that the consumption of these fat which are found in fish, walnut, soybean, and olive oil can reduce the risk of heart diseases. Now, we have an idea of what healthy fat is. Let’s then learn how to choose and use it. The following tips should prove helpful:

Know your cooking method and your oil’s smoke point.

Two critical factors that should determine your choice of cooking oil are the oil’s smoke point and your cooking method. An oil’s smoke point is the point in which the oil  begins to smoke and become ineffective. While some oils have high smoke point, others have low or neutral smoke point. This basically means that different oils work best with different cooking methods. If you are frying, for instance, avocado oil, pure olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil would be ideal. They have a high smoke point. Baking calls for neutral oil like coconut oil and canola oil, while sauteing requires flavourful oils with low smoke point like sesame oil and extra virgin oil.

Don’t use bad oil.

If it smells bad, get rid of it. Oil that has been stored for too long can become oxidized or rancid. It will have a distinct smell. Once you perceive it, your job should be to get rid of it.

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Learn how to store cooking oil meant for reuse properly.

Most people have the habit of storing used oil in a separate containers for reuse. It’s certainly more economical than using fresh oil every time. However, most oils stored for reuse are not properly strained. So, when they are stored unrefrigerated, microbes feeds on them. This may cause fatal food poisoning. We don’t want that to happen. Thus, we should try another method of storing oil for reuse.

As soon as the oil cools enough for you to handle; strain it through layers of cheese cloth or paper towels to remove food particles. Store it in a clean glass jar. Label it and refrigerate for no more than a month.

Discard oil that starts to degrade.

Once oil reaches its smoke point, it starts to degrade. So, if you accidentally let your oil smoke or catch fire, please discard it. Start afresh with fresh oil. If you can do this, I’m certain you’ll pay attention the second time.

Be smart about using oil.

That your ancestors used gallons of oil when making certain foods doesn’t mean you should do so now. They were ignorant but you’re not, or at least you shouldn’t be. Please, use oil sparingly; it is not water.




Cleaveland Clinic

Featured image source: Shutterstock

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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