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Choosing the best cooking oil for your health

Many of us grab a bite to eat without considering what goes into preparing the food we eat every day, especially the oils we are cooking with and consuming. Over the past century, vegetable oils have risen dramatically in popularity, but are they healthy? Here's what you need to know…


What are seed oils?

Seed oils -like soybean oil, sunflower oil, and canola (or rapeseed) oil- are often touted as a healthy alternative to other cooking oils because they contain unsaturated fats. However, they are usually highly processed and extracted using heat (which destroys any beneficial nutrients they had).
These trendy oils can be unhealthy if overused. For example, soybean oil is extremely high in omega-6 linoleic acid and contains no omega-3s. An unbalanced consumption of these two fatty acids can promote inflammation which has been linked to numerous health problems.
Studies have found that over-consumption of seed oils may cause long-term damage to your heart and arteries. Findings indicate a link between excess consumption of omega-6 linoleic acid and increased risks for cardiovascular disease [1].

What makes cold-pressed oils different?

Oils extracted through the cold-pressing method undergo fewer chemical processes than other oils. The oil is extracted by crushing at room temperature, keeping the acidity low, as well as retaining the natural flavour and nutrients and antioxidants! 
Cold-pressed oils, like flaxseed oil and olive oil, are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and promote heart health.

So what now?

If you’re able to, switch to cold-pressed oils when you cook! 
Oils extracted this way will be clearly labelled as ‘cold-pressed’. They’re typically yellowish in colour, have a nutty taste and smell, and are more likely to be sold in glass bottles (rather than plastic).
They are usually more expensive than oils extracted using the easier, cheaper, heat extraction methods. It’s worth considering the additional cost for your long-term health!
[1] Ng CY, Leong XF, Masbah N, Adam SK, Kamisah Y, Jaarin K. Heated vegetable oils and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Vascul Pharmacol. 2014 Apr;61(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Mar 12. PMID: 24632108.