Do you prefer salads or fried fish?
Are you health-conscious?
Concerned about the environment or GMOs?
Just about everyone who watches a TV cooking show knows how to sauté garlic, separate an egg and the importance of using the freshest ingredients. But, what’s the best cooking oil to use? The answer may surprise you. It all depends on your preferences and what you are making. Unlike the kitchen of your youth, today’s well-stocked kitchen should actually have several cooking oils in the pantry.
The “It’s too hot to cook” chef
Olive oil is an ideal choice for drizzling on bread or dressing a salad. This healthy oil is best used at lower temperatures. Olive oil and also coconut oil start smoking at 400 degrees. When they are overheated like that, they are breaking down and possibly releasing toxic compounds.
The fry-guy or baker-gal
Malaysian palm oil is very stable making it great for high-heat applications. Plus it won’t form nearly as many harmful free radicals during high-temperature cooking, especially frying, as other oils such as canola or sunflower oil.
Palm oil can also be substituted for solid fats such as butter, margarine or shortening when baking. Because palm oil is flavor-neutral, consider blending it with a small amount of butter so you still get a buttery flavor.
The family-farm and planet-loving chef
Much of the palm oil we consume is cultivated by family farmers in Malaysia. The land farmed by these smallholders accounts for nearly 40 percent of the total palm planted areas in this Southeast Asian country. The Malaysian palm oil industry is a worldwide leader in environmentally sensitive cultivation programs. Its farmers use sustainable agricultural practices. The industry also builds roads, schools and health care facilities, and invests in wildlife conservation funds. Malaysia has pledged to set aside at least 50 percent of her total land to forest cover and has strict policies in place to protect native wildlife. This lush country is one of the largest carbon sinks in the world.
The pure-food connoisseur
Malaysian palm oil is a smart choice for replacing unhealthy fats in recipes. This nutritious oil is naturally trans-fat free and non-GMO. It also retains the flavor of the food and doesn’t impact any other flavors. “For those of us who prefer natural, unprocessed foods, Malaysian palm oil is the obvious and smartest choice,” says Chef Gerard Viverito, an expert is sustainable cuisine.
The health-conscious cook
Malaysian palm oil is rich in powerful antioxidants called tocotrienols and tocopherols (vitamin E). It also contains almost equal amounts of unsaturated fats and saturated fats, (mainly palmitic and smaller amounts of stearic acids). This is why palm oil has almost no impact on your cholesterol as long as your total dietary fat intake is in line with the levels recommended by health agencies such as the American Heart Association. Basically it behaves more like a healthier monounsaturated fat (the type of fat found in nuts, canola and olive oil) than a saturated fat.
The “all about the food” cook
“As a chef, I also understand that your family won’t eat something that doesn’t taste good,” says Viverito. “Malaysian palm oil is the gold standard of palm oils. When you make the choice to eat products made with Malaysian palm oil, or to cook with it in your own kitchen, you never have to worry about the flavor.”
The world traveler chef
Palm oil is popular worldwide. It’s one of the most widely produced edible oils, and accounts for almost one quarter of the world’s fats and oil supply. It’s a favorite ingredient for health- and environment-conscious food producers around the world because it is naturally trans fat-free (a claim also shared with olive oil) and has a long shelf life. It’s also the most efficiently produced oil crop in the world.