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. Finding healthier ingedients to improve your favorite recipes is the core of Z Living's show Flip My Food With Chef Jeff, where celebrity host chef Jeff Henderson "flips" classic recipes into healthier versions of themselves.
Before You Pick Your Oil...
You should know that 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, catch fire, and start 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.
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Making sure the oil you choose has a safe smoke point, you should then make sure that it's a healthy oil. We suggest five oils to use for deep-frying your food:
1. Peanut Oil
Peanut oil has a neutral taste, and a high smoking point, making it perfect for high-temperature cooking. This oil is also said to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, curb appetite and could possibly help prevent cancer. Be sure to keep an eye out for unrefined peanut oil, though, which comes in small, expensive bottles, and is not suitable for frying.
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 oil that is great for baking and high-heat frying, while helping to decrease the risk for developing heart diseases.
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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. Rice-bran oil 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, making it a good oil for salad dressing as well. The linolenic and linoleic acids in safflower oil could help prevent the hardening of the arteries, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It also contains chemicals that may thin the blood to prevent clots, widen blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and stimulate the heart.
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5. Avocado Oil
With many of the health benefits of olive oil, avocado oil 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, especially when they're frying something up. Sometimes made from damaged and cosmetically inferior avocados, it is nevertheless low in saturated fatty acids, and high in polyunsaturates.
6. Oil Alternatives- Broth Sauteing
While there are many types of oil to try, there is also another way to cook: broth sauteing. Using vegetable broth, you can substitute any type of cooking oil to cook your vegetarian and vegan foods.