Fried foods have always been popular. Many traditional recipes call for oil. Fried foods are also a basic element in the fast-food industry.
Unfortunately, deep-frying isn’t exactly the healthiest cooking method– especially on an industrial scale.
How does frying work?
Deep-frying consists in submerging food into hot oil. The ideal temperature for frying is around 350-375 °F (176-190 °C). When we submerge food into oil at this temperature, its surface cooks almost instantly and forms a sort of “seal” that the oil can’t penetrate.
At the same time, the humidity inside the foods converts into steam, thus, cooking the food from the inside. If the temperature of the oil is too low, the oil will pass through into the food, making it oily. However, if the temperature is too high, it can dry food out and oxidize the oil. Some oils can support higher temperatures than others.
However more saturated the fat, the more stable it is when it heats up. This is why saturated and monounsaturated oils are the best for frying. It’s also why we should avoid oils that have a high polyunsaturated fat content.
Polyunsaturated fats contain two (or more) double bonds in their chemical structure. These double bonds normally react with oxygen and form harmful components when exposed to high temperatures. Taste, of course, also matters here. Generally, when we deep-fry foods, we prefer more neutral tasting oils.
Which is the best oil for frying?
Coconut oil generally makes for the best option, which makes it the healthiest oil for frying. Even after 8 hours of continual frying at 365 °F (180 °C), its quality doesn’t deteriorate. More than 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, making it very resistant to high temperatures.
Saturated fats have a bad reputation for being unhealthy, but new studies show that they’re a completely harmless energy source for humans. In addition, coconut oil has numerous health benefits. For example, it can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses. Coconut oil can even help you lose abdominal fat.
Keep in mind that some varieties can give off a coconut flavor or aroma, which is why you should try out different brands in order to find the one that you prefer. Animal fats also make for excellent frying options. They include fats such as: lard, sebum and animal drippings. They have great flavor, provide crispy texture and aren’t as harmful when used for frying.
Most of the fatty acids in animal fats are saturated and monounsaturated, which makes them very resistant to high temperatures. However, their fatty acid content can vary depending on the animal’s diet. Contrary to animals raised in pastures or fields, grain-fed animals might contain many more polyunsaturated fatty acids in their fat reserves.
In light of that, we should only consider the fat of naturally-fed animals as a healthy option for frying. You can buy lard in a store or save meat drippings to use them later.
Other good options to know
Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats in the world. It has high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, which only have one double link. Such as the case of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats are highly resistant to heat. You can use olive oil in a fryer for more than 24 hours before it oxidizes.
In theory, this makes it a wonderful option for frying. However, its flavor and fragrance might not hold well when it faces long periods high heat.
The composition of avocado oil is similar to that of olive oil. While it mainly has monounsaturated fats, it also has some saturated and polyunsaturated fats mixed in, too.
It has a considerably high smoking point (520 ° F / 270 °C) and a delicate walnut flavor.
Peanut oil has a high smoking point that’s around 446 °F (230 °C).
It’s very popular for deep frying because of its natural flavor. In addition, it doesn’t absorb the flavor of the foods which gives one use many opportunities for frying different foods.
However, looking from a health standpoint, peanut oil isn’t the best option. Its polyunsaturated content is considerable high (approximately 32%), which also makes it vulnerable to high temperatures.
We recommend that you read: 7 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Nuts
This oil mainly contains saturated and monounsaturated fats, which makes it a great option for frying.
People say that the flavor of palm oil is rather neutral, especially the unrefined variety known as red palm oil.
However, there are serious concerns about the sustainability of harvesting palm oil.
Fats and oils that you shouldn’t use for frying
There are several fats and oils that you should avoid using at all costs. These include industrial vegetable oils. These oils are derived from seeds and undergo aggressive processing methods. They have a high polyunsaturated content and up to 4% of those fats are toxic trans fats.
If you use these kinds of oil for frying, you might very well end up with large quantities of oxidized fatty acids and harmful compounds. Avoid them like the plague. Using the wrong kinds of oils for frying is terrible for health. However, using the right kinds of oils, you can enjoy a fried treat from time to time (homemade being the best option), guilt-free.