I recently had a conversation with one of our Rheumatologists, Herman Lau, about which oil would be the best to cook with. So, I decided to turn it into a blog! His question was ‘Which is healthier, olive, rice bran or canola oil? Is peanut oil bad for you?
So, which is best? It really depends on what you're using it for. Canola and rice bran are good choices for general cooking, especially at higher temperatures, whereas olive is better for baking/roasting or using in salad dressings. Extra virgin olive oil is particularly high in antioxidants if it is used in cold dishes (ie uncooked).
That said, if you're cooking a particular dish that requires peanut oil (as many Asian recipes do), there's no harm in using that as an alternative, and it is still made of healthy fats.
Peanut oil isn't 'bad', but it isn't the 'best'. It gives food that it is cooked with a nice nutty flavour, so is desirable to use in some dishes. It contains a combination of mostly monounsaturated fat, plus polyunsaturated (80% unsaturated in total) and 20% saturated fats.
Rice bran oil is approximately 75% unsaturated fats, 25% saturated. It contains many antioxidants, and also is useful in cholesterol reduction. Plus, it has a very high 'smoke point', which means that it can be raised to a higher temperature before any chemical composition changes occur- so overall a really great choice!
Canola oil contains less than 7% saturated fat, and is approximately 60% monounsaturated fats. It is often a component of salad dressings, margarine and is also useful for frying foods due to its high stability level.
Olive oil is composed of 73% monounsaturated fats, 11% polyunsaturated fat and 14% saturated fat. Extra virgin olive oil is even higher in monounsaturated fats. Olive oil has shown to be a great choice to include, in particular when used in conjunction with the Mediterranean Diet for its positive health benefits.
So which oil will you use?
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you'd like our help in managing diet-related health issues.