Who doesn’t love the taste of deep-fried foods?
While deep-frying is considered not to be very healthy, it is a cooking method has been used traditionally all over the world. That’s because fried foods have a very high appeal to the taste than their boiled counterparts.
Depending on the oil you use for deep-frying, the food can turn out to be very unhealthy. Therefore, instead of giving up your fried food, you are better off replacing the oil you use with a healthier option.
How Deep-Frying Works?
As a cooking method, deep frying is all about submerging food in heated oil. The oil is heated to a temperature of between 176°C (350°F) and 190°C (375°F). As soon as the food is submerged into the heated oil, its surface is cooked in an instant thus forming an outer coating that cannot be penetrated by oil.
This locks in moisture in the food. The moisture turns into steam and does the cooking from inside out. As the steam rises out, it removes the oil from the food. However, at very low temperatures, the oil seeps into the food to make it greasy and unhealthy to eat. Similarly, very high temperatures cause the food dry and stimulate the oxidization of the oil.
What Is The Best Oil For Frying?
It is the stability of the oil that determines if it is good for deep-frying or not. Apart from having a high smoking point, the frying oil is stable enough to resist reaction with oxygen when heated. It is, therefore, vital that you choose cooking oils that are either saturated or monounsaturated, given that they are the most stable.
What you should avoid are the polyunsaturated fats whose chemical structure has at least two double bonds that react with oxygen to form toxic compounds due to high heat. Together with these oils, you should also avoid those that have added flavors. The frying oil should necessarily have a neutral taste.
In this write-up, we shall discuss the frying oils in detail. Read on to learn more on how to identify the oil to deep-fry with.
Which oils are the healthiest?
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil can be made either in the form of extra-virgin or just olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is considered the highest quality you can ever have of olive oil. It is produced when olives are pressed mechanically, and the oil is separated from water.
This oil is very healthy, given that it contains more than 0.8 percent fatty acids. It is advisable that extra-virgin olive oil is consumed within the first year after harvest and six months after the bottle is opened.
The lower quality olive oil is sourced from used olive pulp and then mixed with some virgin oil. Through deodorizing and bleaching, the blended olive oil is then refined to stabilize it and give it a neutral flavor. At the end of the purification process, the oil is stripped of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and its natural color.
Regardless of which type of olive oil you choose, you will still be working with the healthiest oil on the entire earth. Olive oil contains high amounts of monounsaturated fats, which can resist heat.
This was proven by a study that found the oil to be able to withstand the oxidizing effects of heat after being used in a deep-fryer for 24 hours.
2. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil tastes more like butter and has a distinct green color. Just like olive oil, it contains high amounts of monounsaturated fats with minimal polyunsaturated or saturated fats. To obtain extra-virgin avocado oil, the pulp of the fruit is pressed after which a centrifuge is used to remove the oil.
Avocado oil smokes at the high temperature of 250°C, which makes it great for deep-frying or high-temperature grilling. Use it to fry vegetables like Brussels sprouts or homemade baking pizza. This is perhaps the best oil, given that it contains vast amounts of antioxidants.
3. Macadamia Oil
If you are looking for an excellent way to add flavor to your food, try this nutty/buttery flavor. When ‘cold pressed,’ the oil has been extracted by pressing macadamia nuts.
It contains up to 80 percent monounsaturated fats making it very stable at high cooking temperatures. The macadamia oil smoke point stands at between 210°C and 234°C.
Use it to fry veal, fish, cake flavoring, and as a salad dressing. When eaten frequently, this oil can help promote heart health due to the blood cholesterol lowering actions of the monounsaturated fats.
4. Peanut Oil
Just like macadamia oil, peanut oil contains lots of monounsaturated fats. Due to its distinct groundnut fragrance, you can use it to add flavor to your food.
It has a very high smoking point of 230°C. It should, however, not be heated to very high temperatures to avoid oxidization. That’s mainly due to the high content (32 percent) of polyunsaturated fats.
When used for deep-frying, peanut oil rarely interferes with food’s natural flavor. However, in its virgin form, peanut oil can cause undesired reactions in individuals with allergies. For such individuals, using refined peanut oil is the best option.
5. Coconut Oil
This is perhaps the best oil given the fact that it maintains its quality even when continuously heated at a temperature of 180°C. If anything, coconut oil contains over 90 percent saturated fats, the reason it is resistant to high levels of heat.
Although previously considered unhealthy, new evidence suggests that they are harmless and can be beneficial to your health.
The only thing you get from them is energy. However, coconut oil also has antiviral and antibiotic abilities. Apart from killing viruses and bacteria, it is a handy weight loss aid.
Ghee is a form of butter. While the latter is not suitable for deep frying and smokes at shallow temperatures, the former has been clarified and can withstand heat. If anything, ghee is butter from which the sugars and proteins have been removed. Thus it is nothing but pure fat.
Because of its high resistance to heat, ghee remains stable at very high temperatures, thus making is one of the effective oils. Its distinct milky flavor makes food more palatable. For enhanced nutrition, pick grass-fed ghee, which contains high amounts of fatty acids and vitamins.
Lard is the oil sourced from pig meat. This might not be readily available in your local shop, but you can get it from the butcher near you. Just like ghee, lard is excellent when it comes to making your food tastier.
It burns at very high temperatures due to the high amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Traditionally, lard was used for deep-frying due to its stability at high temperatures and the content of fat-soluble vitamins, especially the grass-fed option.
8. Beef Tallow
When fat is rendered from beef, the result is tallow. This is perhaps the best frying oil, given the fact that it has been used traditionally all over the world. It is predominantly made of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids thus making it highly resistant to heat. Its light flavor means your food still tastes as natural as can be.
9. Sunflower Oil
This is a sunflower seed extract and is usually refined by adding hexane and other chemical solvents. It is through the refining process that sunflower oil is stabilized to enable it to withstand high temperatures. However, in its refined form, sunflower oil could be lacking some of its natural nutrients.
Sunflower oil has a high smoke point of225°C and, thus, is great for deep-frying chips, tempura, and other dishes. Using it in your diet can help lower the bad cholesterol due to the high polyunsaturated fat content. It is, therefore, perfect for your heart.
10. Sesame Oil
Sesame has been eaten for decades all over the world. The commercially available varieties of sesame oil have undergone refining through the use of certain solvents. It contains high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats thus making it healthy for your heart.
Due to its robust flavor, sesame oil is good for cooking stir-fries. You may also want to add it to some sauces and marinades. It has numerous health benefits. Sesame oil contains high levels of vitamin K, which plays a significant role in bone strength and blood coagulation.
11. Palm Oil
This is perhaps the best frying oil. It contains significant amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, which means it is highly heat resistant. You can, therefore, use palm oil for all your deep-frying needs. The best thing about palm oil is its neutral flavor, especially in its unrefined form. This is a healthy fat that contains vitamin E and coenzyme Q10.
When the best frying oil is used, fried food remains healthy. Apart from the high-calorie count, fried food is full of flavor and nutritious. The food may not contain high amounts of vitamins, but it has a high-fiber content. So go ahead, choose the best frying oil, and you will have a finger-licking meal in no time. The healthiest deep-frying oils include coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, ghee, and macadamia oil. The more natural the oil, the healthier it is.