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So Which Cooking Oil is The Healthiest Choice for Frying?

cocount oil

Dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker offers some alternatives to olive oil
Rapeseed has lots more omega-3 fatty acids and is great with veg
Coconut oil makes great stir-fries and contains ‘healthier’ saturated fat

Poor olive harvests last year may mean a shortage of olive oil. Dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker offers some alternatives:

Best to roast veg: Rapeseed
Rapeseed oil has 6 per cent saturated fat compared with olive oil’s 14.3 per cent. It also has ten times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids and 50 per cent more vitamin E.

EXPERT VERDICT: One of the healthiest oils, with a subtle, grassy taste. One concern with heating oil is how soon it starts to smoke. This is when the fatty acids in it oxidise, creating harmful free radicals. Rapeseed oil has a high smoke point, so use for frying or roasting.

Best in risotto: Rice bran
Taken from the bran (the vitamin-rich layer below the fibrous hull of rice) and germ (the oily, nutrient-rich part of a rice grain). High in protective antioxidants such as vitamin E.

EXPERT VERDICT: As well as heart healthy vitamin E, this contains ferulic acid, which has powerful anti-oxidant and anti- inflammatory effects, helping to protect the immune system and prevent disease.

Best in stir-fries: Coconut
Extracted from the white flesh of coconuts, this is almost 50 per cent lauric acid, a ‘healthier’ saturated fatty acid. Solid at room temperature, so can’t be used for salad dressings, but its high smoke point makes it ideal for cooking.

EXPERT VERDICT: Though it’s 86.5 per cent saturated fat, research suggests the saturated fat in coconut may be used up more quickly by the body and is less likely to be stored as body fat. However, use in moderation.
Best on salad: Walnut

With useful amounts of fatty acids, walnut oil may help lower heart disease risk. A distinct walnut flavour and low smoke point, so best for dressings.

EXPERT VERDICT: Delicious, but not particularly versatile. Buy small bottles and keep in a cool, dark place as it goes rancid easily.

Best for baking: Hemp seed
Richer in the essential fatty acids omega-3, 6 and 9 than other culinary oils, and has half the saturated fat of olive oil. One tablespoon provides 94 per cent of your daily recommended intake of omega-3s.

EXPERT VERDICT: Versatile – can be used for stir-frying, dipping and salad dressing. One of the healthiest alternatives to olive oil, though the flavour may not be to everyone’s taste. Disguise with dried fruit and spices.

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