Raw, unrefined, cold-pressed, organic, virgin – What is the healthiest oil to cook with?
There are many options when it comes to selecting cooking oils. But it is not just a matter of choosing oil that is healthy, but also how it was extracted and whether or not it is refined. Learn more about oil extraction, refining process, and our recommended cooking oils here:
Methods of Oil Extraction and Refining:
Cold pressed oil: refers to ancient method of mechanical extraction in which nuts or seeds are pressed by using heavy granite millstones or modern presses. This method yields the best quality oil as the oil retains all of their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value.
Expeller pressed oil: refers to method of mechanical extraction in which nuts or seeds are heated prior to pressing. The heating makes the pressing more efficient. This method of extracting the oil is referred as pressed or expeller pressed, not cold pressed.
Solvent extraction: Sometimes the oil is more difficult to extract and has to be dissolved in a solvent. Once the oil is dissolved, the solvent is removed by distillation. Once the oil is extracted either through mechanical or solvent extraction, manufacturers may simply filter the oil to remove some impurities and sell it as unrefined.
Refining may include many different steps, including bleaching and deodorizing. Refined oils are clear, odorless, less flavorful and have longer shelf-life than unrefined oils. When oil is refined, the process increases it’s smoke point. In fact, some oils are refined to make them more stable and suitable for high temperature cooking by raising its smoke point.
Unrefined oils have lower smoke point than refined oils. Unrefined oils retain its full natural flavor, aroma, and color, and many naturally occurring nutrients.
Smoke Point of an oil is the temperature at which the decomposition of the oil begins and the oil is no longer good for consumption after it has exceeded its smoke point.
Here are several examples of how refining increases the smoke point of unrefined oils:
Coconut oil, unrefined – 350 F
Coconut oil, refined– 450 F
Sesame oil, unrefined – 350 F
Sesame oil, refined – 450 F
Peanut oil, unrefined – 440 F
Peanut oil, refined – 450 F
Conclusion: Here are 4 things you MUST consider when selecting cooking oils:
- Read the labels, and find out the method of extraction.
- Whenever possible, choose unrefined and cold-pressed oils.
- Select oils in a glass container and store in a cool, dry place.
- Buy certified organic oils or Non-GMO Project Verified labels.
Shop Our Recommended Cooking Oils:
Ayurvedic Tip: What is the healthiest oil to cook with?
As per Ayurveda, clarified butter or ghee (Smoke Point of ghee is 485 F) is excellent for sautéing, stir-frying, baking and even deep frying. Always discard the unused frying oil, do not reuse.
Learn how to make ghee at home.
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