Deep-frying may not be the healthiest way to prepare food, but if you’re going to do it, you might as well choose the right kind of oil.
Most foods are fried between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you should choose oils with a smoke point above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoke point is the temperature at which the oil will start to smoke and eventually catch fire, not to mention breaking down chemically and producing harmful free radicals. This point can range from 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and depends on how the oil was pressed, filtered, and refined. Less processed oils have lower smoke points, while refined oils are generally more suited to high-temperature cooking. Even so, some are healthier than the others.
We suggest five oils to use for deep-frying your food:
1. Peanut Oil
It has a neutral taste, and a high smoking point, making it perfect for high-temperature cooking. Unrefined peanut oil, which comes in small, expensive bottles, is not suitable for frying and is much more flavorful. Both kinds are said to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, curb appetite and could possibly help prevent cancer.
2. Vegetable Oil
This is an umbrella term for plant-based oils and will likely contain soybean oil, but may also be made from sunflower or safflower oil (or a combination). It is neutral-tasting, all-purpose, and great for baking and high-heat frying, while helping to decrease the risk for developing heart diseases.
3. Rice Bran Oil
While this is more expensive than other neutral oils, it has gained popularity for its health benefits and among cooks concerned about GMOs in other types of oil like corn and palm. It also has substances that reduce cholesterol and decrease calcium absorption, which might help reduce the formation of certain types of kidney stones.
4. Safflower Oil
Almost flavorless, this oil has a high smoke point of 520 degrees Fahrenheit. It is versatile since it can be used as a substitute for vegetable oil, and because it does not solidify when chilled, thus making it a good oil for salad dressing as well. The linolenic and linoleic acids in it could help prevent the hardening of the arteries, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It contains chemicals that may thin the blood to prevent clots, widen blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and stimulate the heart.
5. Avocado Oil
With many of the health benefits of olive oil, it has the advantage of a high smoke point of 520 degrees Fahrenheit. This light, slightly nutty oil is considered to be a novelty, but is a favorite with many chefs. Sometimes made from damaged and cosmetically inferior avocados, it is nevertheless low in saturated fatty acids, and high in polyunsaturates.