How to enhance flavor and heath benefits
By Victoria Bentley NCTMB, CPI, LMT, HC
This is a subject with much contention and confusion, and I’d like to shed light on
the numerous kinds of fat and oils available for home cooking. We’ve been told to
eat a low fat diet and that saturated fats are particularly bad, but this is malarky.
The quality of all cooking oils and fats is important. Choosing organic brands
is a good way to ensure this quality. Most grocery stores offer these, and
Organic Valley and Kerrygold have pasture-style butters that are great. Find
a local farmer, or better yet, go to a farmers’ market to get lard, tallow or
schmaltz. It’s important to eat animal fat from properly raised animals. I cannot
stress that enough.
Having a range of flavors to choose from makes food taste better. Use animal
fats like butter/Ghee, coconut oil, and palm oil. Walnut, hazelnut and avocado
oils add great flavor to your dishes, but use these sparingly.
Now, let ’s enjoy cooking!
The good guys:
Mmm! This is a flavorful cooking fat that
is used for medium heat cooking. Don’t
use it for high heat cooking due to trace
levels of proteins, lactose (milk-sugar) and
carbohydrates that burn easily.
It’s very important to buy grass-fed/
pasture-style butter. Cows who have been
pastured and grass-fed are not injected
with hormones and antibiotics as conventionally
raised animals are. Much better
for you and yours.
We have been consuming butter for three
millennia, and it used to be thought of as
medicinal. Only in the last century did
it come to be considered “unhealthy.”
There’s nothing unhealthy about these delicious
fats. What’s unhealthy and not real
is margarine, so avoid that all together.
This is clarified butter from Southeast
Asia used for high temperature cooking.
It is pure butterfat that is skimmed after it
has been boiling, a process that leaves the
“schorchable” proteins behind.
Lard, Tallow, Schmaltz (animal fat from
pork, beef and goose respectively) –
Buy the grass-fed/pasture-style to avoid
the dangerous toxins that are stored in fat.
Always choose the highest quality. These
are excellent cooking fats that are stable
over high heat. Beef tallow used to be the
secret ingredient that McDonalds used to
cook their French fries. Unfortunately,
that is no longer the case, due to the
intervention by some well-meaning, but
This is not the best choice for cooking,
especially over high heat, but it’s wonderful
for salads, dipping sauces and pouring
There are three types of olive oils: extra
virgin, virgin and pure. The first two are
from the first pressing of the olives. They
can be very flavorful and tasty. Pure olive
oil is refined, which renders it flavorless
and odorless. The better oils have lower
acidity and stronger flavors.
One of my favorites, this oil is extremely
stable and great for high temperature
cooking. It does have a slight coconut flavor,
so I tend to melt it over a baked sweet
potato with some nutmeg and cinnamon. I
also like to put a dollop in protein shakes.
It is highly saturated, and has a bad rap
because of this, but the benefit of the
medium chained fatty acids from this oil
are proven to be very healthy.
This oil is full of flavor and color and
chock full of vitamin E. It’s also stable and
good for high heat cooking and frying.
Worldwide, it’s widely appreciated and is
the second most used. The first is soybean
oil. Palm oil is highly saturated and is
great for meats and veggies over high heat.
Get out your wok! I use this
for dishes that I want to give
an Asian flair, and it’s
definitely for medium
to low temperature
cooking. The toasted
variety adds a smoky
complexity. Use it
with cabbage, carrots,
sauce at the end of the
The Bad Guys:
Vegetable Oils such as Peanut
and Corn Oil
These are wholly unnatural fats that are extremely high in Omega-6
fatty acids that we have far too much of in the American diet. This
high percentage of Omega-6 tends to increase inflammation in our
bodies, which is not healthy. They are refined and deodorized just
to make them shelf stable. Bottom line: Do not use them.
This is an unstable fat that oxidizes from light, air and heat. Even
though it has Omega-3, it’s a plant source which does not offer
The media “toots their horn” for this oil, but I do not. It’s heavily
refined and genetically engineered. There is no healthy benefit.