Back again, right now, to rant about a grocery tip & to help you guys better understand food labels when it comes to oils!!
Most cooking oils go through insane amounts of processing with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers & bleach before they actually end up in the bottle, on the grocery shelf & unfortunately, in your pantry.
The most commonly used “solvent” to extract the oil is called HEXANE. The oil is legit BATHED in it. The sad truth? Hexane is a cheap byproduct from gas production… it’s a toxic air pollutant & is severely hazardous. Research has shown that oftentimes, hexane residue remains in the oil & unfortunately (yes, again), the FDA does not require food manufacturers to test products for residues. (When companies actually do go the extra mile to get rid of the hexane used for processing, the oil is HEATED excessively, which also changes its composition).
ALL THIS TO SAY: You can very well be eating this chemical EVERY SINGLE TIME you cook with hexane-extracted oils…
Some of the negative effects that hexane can have are: dizziness, nausea, headaches & other central nervous system effects, as well as blurred vision & muscular weakness.
So, the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION is:
How do you stop these oils from making their way into your pantry?
BUY THE RIGHT OILS.
But what are the right oils?
Let me explain.
First, let’s talk about expeller-pressed oils. Expeller-pressed oils are oils that are mechanically extracted from the nut or seed with a screw press. The oil legitimately gets squeezed out of the item in one single step, with intense force. Sometimes, due to the friction, heat is involved, but generally, companies who choose this method of extraction will go the extra mile to ensure that the oil is not being heated beyond its smoke point.
This traditional way of making oil is MUCH HEALTHIER than using hexane. BUT, of course, big oil manufacturers aren’t too fond of it because: it’s more expensive & it’s less effective as less oil is made. To put things into perspective: the expeller-pressed (one-time squeeze method) captures approximately 65% of the oil & therefore, creates some waste, while the chemical method will capture about 99% of the oil. If you were to run the nut/seed through the press a second or third time, you’d get more oil from it, BUT QUALITY WOULD BE SACRIFICED. This is why often times, companies will cheap out & extract the oils using chemical methods, such as the one discussed above. Obviously, expeller-pressed oils will be more costly, but now you see that it’s with reason!
NOW, this is not to say that expeller-pressed oils are the HEALTHIEST EVER. Some companies will TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER & cold-press their oils at temperatures of no more than 80-120F. This ensures that the product’s composition is not chemically altered due to heat & that the flavour does not change. BUT, it also requires a lot of work & is more expensive, but produces the best oils. Like with expeller-pressed oils, the oils are obtained on the first press of the nut/seed.
BUT BUT BUT, BEWARE!!!
Unfortunately, no Canadian or US regulation or legislation protects Canadian/American consumers against oils labelled as “cold-pressed”. A lot of the time, companies will use these terms to MAKE A SALE when really, the oil could’ve been warmed up in the “cold-pressing” process, possibly making the distinction between expeller-pressed & cold-pressed USELESS.
ALL THIS TO SAY:
- Don’t necessarily take the term “cold-pressed” on a label at face value. The best way to know if the companies are genuinely “cold-pressing” their oils & avoiding any heat application is to contact them directly & inquire.
Otherwise, when reading labels, always make sure the oils are UNREFINED, EXPELLER-PRESSED OR COLD-PRESSED.
NEVER BUY GMO, REFINED OR HYDROGENATED OILS. (BTW, the term “hydrogenated” refers to the process by which a liquid unsaturated fat is turned into a solid fat by adding hydrogen… CREATING… wait for it… TRANS FAT, which is absolutely horrible for you. Food companies often use this process to increase duration of shelf life & cut costs.
Always try to choose organic oils because GMO & hexane extraction methods are PROHIBITED when the oil is labelled “organic“.
Don’t know where to start with oils?!
NO PROBLEM. I GOT YOU.
What oils do I stay away from?
- Canola oil (research has linked canola oil consumption to vitamin E deficiency & shortened life span, not to mention, canola oil usually contains GMOs & is chemically processed with hexane extraction).
- Cottonseed oil (contains tons of pesticides & chemicals, as it is regulated as a textile crop & not food… IT’S LEGIT A BYPRODUCT OF COTTON CROP! YES, THE COTTON THAT IS USED TO MAKE CLOTHING!).
- Soybean oil (very common in processed foods, so READ YOUR LABELS! High in omega-6 fatty acids, which are necessary, BUT NOT OVERLY. Overconsumption of these fatty acids can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals & may contribute to heart disease, cancer & other autoimmune disease. Like canola oil, soybean oil is also often made from GMOs).
- P.S. Most products that say “vegetable oil” are actually made from soybeans… SO WATCH OUT.
- Corn oil (refined, goes through the same hexane-extraction process, made from GMO corn & loaded with omega-6 fatty acids that are excessively heated & oxidized, which leads to the creation of free radicals, that, as you munchkins know, may damage your cells & lead to many diseases).
What oils do I stick to?
P.S. When I refer to “smoke point“, what this means is: when an oil reaches its smoke point, the structure of the oil begins to break down, the nutrients are lost, flavour is changed & compounds can be created that are damaging to your health & that LITERALLY create free radicals.
- Coconut oil (yes, it’s made up mostly of saturated fat, BUT, the fat in coconut oil is made up of MCTs, which are medium-chain triglycerides! These MCTs help reduce cholesterol! It also has a natural sweet flavour & contains lauric, capric & caprylic acids, which are antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal & antibacterial!)
- I use coconut oil for cooking, grilling, roasting, frying, sautéing & stir-frying at medium-high heats & for baking, as its smoke point is 350F.
- Avocado oil (heart-healthy, rich in oleic acid, which is a very healthy fat, reduces cholesterol, antioxidant!)
- I use this for grilling, roasting, cooking, frying, sautéing & stir-frying at medium-high heats, because like coconut oil, it has a high smoke point of at least 400F, but I prefer the taste of coconut oil!)
- Extra-virgin olive-oil (good source of vitamin E, antioxidants & polyphenols).
- I use it in salad dressings (& not for cooking/heating) because its smoke point is quite low, approximately 200F.
- Sesame oil (contains vitamin E, antioxidants, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, calcium & copper!)
- I use this rarely, but when I do, I use it in dressings or for asian dishes if I’m sautéing!
I HOPE THIS WAS HELPFUL, MY LOVES!
NOW, GET OIL-ING!! (THE RIGHT WAY!)