The four best ingredients to cook and bake with that reduce inflammation and boost your overall health.
Why it Matters?
Oils are quite sensitive to light and temperature. An oil at one temperature might be extremely healthy but become extremely unhealthy and inflammatory at another temperature. Since we consume oils on a daily basis it is important to understand how common oils become inflammatory and how to avoid them.
- Olive oil is best for after the food is cooked like a garnish. Look for olive oils that are in dark bottles and single origin.
- Avocado oil is the best for cooking and baking. Look for avocado oils that are organic, extra virgin, unrefined and cold-pressed.
- Use high smoke point oils for cooking and baking.
Oils are a very common ingredient and used in almost everything we eat. Oils have many health benefits such as providing essential fatty acids, anti-inflammatory properties, and more.
Each oil has a smoke point that when reached makes the oil become unstable. Simply put, when an oil becomes unstable it will create an inflammatory response within the body when consumed. Since almost everything we eat on a daily basis is cooked or baked with various oils it becomes important to pay attention to how those oils are affecting our body. The goal is to mitigate inflammation within the body as long term inflammation can lead to almost every disease you can think of.
Thus, below are the top four ingredients to cook and bake with that keep inflammation low and the health benefits high:
- Avocado Oil (1-2 tbsp each meal, no set restrictions): has a high smoke point, good for medium heat cooking/sautéing. Avocado oil can also be used in baking with a 1:1 ratio swap. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which are good of heart health and rich in vitamin E. Tip: Look for organic, extra virgin, unrefined and cold-pressed.
- Coconut oil (in moderation, 2 tbsp a day, no more than 3 servings a week): Good for cooking at medium to lower temperatures and baking with 1:1 ratio swap. Coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat and is rich in medium-chain fatty acids. Tip: Look for extra-virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fats, so you shouldn’t go overboard here.
- Olive oil (1-2 tbsp each meal, no set restrictions): EVOO is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. Olive oil is shown to support heart health. Olive oil is best for drizzling over food after preparing as it has a low smoke point. Tip: EVOO that has a very peppery kick at the back of your throat is a very high quality EVOO and one to stick with.
- Ghee (1-2 tbsp a day, limit to daily serving): Ghee has a higher smoke point making it good for cooking. It is a clarified butter that is strained of milk and water solids making it free of lactose. Tip: It does have high amounts of saturated fat which you do not want to exceed more than 10% of total Fat calories.
The following is the smoke points for the four ingredients listed above. For the full list click here.
|Cooking Oil/Fat||Smoke Point (Celsius)||Smoke Point (Fahrenheit)||Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)||160°C||320°F||73%
monounsaturated, high in Omega 9
|Avocado Oil||271°C||520°F||12:1, 70%
monosaturated, (68% Omega-9 fatty acids)
High in vitamin E.
|Ghee (Clarified Butter)||252°C||485°F||0:0, 62% saturated fat|
|Coconut oil||177°C||350°F||Contains 66% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)|
While this article was not an exhaustive review of all the oils out there it at least provides you with a starting point to make sure you are not consuming and creating inflammation on a daily basis.
Whether you are battling systemic inflammation or not you should consider incorporating these ingredients and gradually shift to their use permanently. Paying attention to the type of oil you are consuming, cooking, or baking with can be the low hanging fruit that gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
For example, if you usually cook with olive oil, swap it out for avocado, ghee, or coconut oil. If you usually use vegetables oils to bake or cook with, swap it out for avocado oil or another oil that has a higher smoke point. Use the link provided here to see a full list of oils and their smoke points.
Jon Esposito MA, CSCS, CISSN, USAW