My family is big on cooking oils for the simple reason that with kids around, fried foods are a mainstay. Much as I want to eat soups and stews, my 3 kids (which clearly outnumber their parents) still prefer to eat fried foods. No, they do not insist on it (they’re quite well-behaved), it’s just that they don’t eat with as much gusto as they do when the food is all crisp, crackling and golden brown.
Because we use cooking oils a lot, I try to make sure I use healthy cooking oils. What cooking oils do you think are healthy? Olive oil, canola oil, corn oil or coconut oil? If you look at foreign health mags and websites, you will find lots of warnings against using cooking oils that are saturated fats. I have talked at length about this in this article, with the point being that the real target of all this bad publicity is coconut oil. However, more and more Americans are slowly learning the truth that coconut oil is not bad and is even so good, and I daresay perfect even.
I’m speaking to all fellow-Filipinos here reading my blog: Have you ever heard of a coconut farmer fertilizing or even watering his coconut trees? I'm sure you haven't. When the trees are newly-planted, they may need some mulching or watering, but when they get to be tall trees? Why, they just grow without needing those synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Coconut trees are free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides and especially free from genetic modification. With absolute certainty, I say this: Coconut products, including coconut oil, are all-natural and all-organic.
Corn, canola and soybean oils
Corn, canola and soybeans are three of the most widely genetically-modified crops, the other being cotton, which is why you often hear of the "bad SCCC." Even my American neighbor (who does a lot of research) knows how Monsanto is fighting so hard to promote GMO crops and products such as corn and canola oils.
Olive oil is good as it has oleic acid, but it has a low smoking temperature. That is, when it is subjected to heat, olive oil starts to denature and worse, oxidize, at a lower point. If you ever use olive oil, use it to drizzle over salads. Never ever use it in frying or baking as it will just give you oils that have gone rancid due to heat.
I have read about the goodness of palm oil and I’m going to blog about it sometime. Palm oil is also a healthy cooking oil.
Peanut, avocado, sunflower and sesame oils
I really am in no position to talk about these oils as (1) I have not tried them,( 2) I have not seen them yet and (3) they are expensive, which automatically makes them inferior to coconut oil.
Now on to the best cooking oil, coconut oil. Coconut oil is the best oil for all-around cooking, and I’m not saying this because I’m a Filipina. Coconut oil has a high smoking point. You can subject it to the high temperatures of frying and baking (up to 350 degrees F) yet it does not denature and oxidize.
Even our very own RBD coconut oils such as Minola and Baguio brands still have lauric acids intact. These lauric acids are transformed inside our bodies into monolaurin which has antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Lauric acid is the same component in breast milk which lends so much protection for the newborn infants and babies.
If you look at this pdf document, the late Dr. Dayrit himself said that he used Minola and Baguio oils in their study which demonstrated how coconut oil reduced the viral load in HIV-AIDS patients. At that time, there were no virgin coconut oils yet and so the research team just used Minola and Baguio oils. Sadly though, few Filipinos know this and spend needlessly on GMO oils such as corn and canola oils.
Let me clarify myself though. I believe RBD oils are not as good as VCO or virgin coconut oil. VCO is processed at low temperatures and thus retains much of the nutrients of coconuts. However, RBD oils are still healthy oils in that the refining process does not remove the MCFAs such as lauric acid, as the Dayrit study shows. If you really want the very best oil, use VCO. But if you cannot afford VCO, RBD oils are still healthy options.
Please help me spread the news that the coconut oils we see in our grocery shelves (yes, even the RBD oils) are healthy, all-natural oils and trump those expensive “stateside oils.” Patronize these oils and you may just help the Philippine coconut industry.
Btw, this post is linked to Sunday School at Butter Believer!