Refined vs Cold-Pressed Oils
When we think of oil, we tend to think of all the ways we can avoid it. The skincare we use to keep it off our faces, the salads we buy to offset the food fried in it, or the jumps and hops it takes to avoid burning your skin while cooking with it. But what about the oils in the products we put on our faces to nourish them, the oils mixed into vinaigrette’s for healthy salads, or the oil creating crispy crusts and an easier pan to clean? Oil is a spectrum, and, with the right choices, we can use it for nourishment.
When striving towards a healthy lifestyle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by which oils can help or hurt your goals. Don’t stress: while anything can be healthy in moderation, here are some types of oils you might want to add or avoid in your wellness journey.
Avoid: Refined Oils
Refined oils are common in the American diet: canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, margarine, and even some olive oils are refined. This means that the oil was derived from the plant through by applying extreme heat, chemicals, and using undesirable preservatives. These oils are known for their high smoke point and shelf-life, which means that they can withstand high cooking temperatures without burning and will stay fresh in your cabinet for months. While these oils aren’t outright toxic or unhealthy, the process of refining tends to reduce the level of nutrients and introduce empty calories. Refining of oils also leads to the increase in possibly harmful chemicals in the oil, due to the extreme conditions the oil must undergo. Overall, refined oils tend to have higher levels of unhealthy fats and offer little in terms of nutrition. Because of this, some refined oils have even been banned in Europe for negative effects on people’s health and diet.
Add: Cold Pressed Oils
The most common cold pressed oil is the big EVOO or Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Why are EVOO and other cold pressed oils so special? Well, it all comes down to the process. Cold pressed oils are oils that are extracted through grinding, squeezing, and rotating the crop to separate the oil from the fibrous parts of the plant. The process doesn’t require the use of forced heat, chemicals, or preservatives. And, at the end, you are left with only the pure oil itself. Some of these oils may have lower smoke points, but they still have lots of functionality in the kitchen whether you’re sautéing vegetables or whipping up a dressing. Some healthy cold pressed oils include EVOO, avocado oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and sesame oil. In comparison to refined oils, even organic butter or ghee are are considered healthier alternatives.
The benefits of cold pressed oils include:
- Higher levels of essential nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, and protein
- Free of the harmful chemicals found in refined oils
- Low cholesterol which can help promote clear skin and weight loss
- Boosts the immune system and brain health
- Energizes the body
- Improves the health of hair, skin, nails, and teeth
Quick note: cold pressed oils do not contain preservatives, but that does not mean they go bad quickly– once opened, they can last for months when kept in a cool dark environment like your cupboard.
As you scour your pantry and cabinets to find ingredients and plan out meals, consider tossing out your refined oils in favor some cold-pressed alternatives. You can look forward to not only a healthier lifestyle, but also some amazing new tastes and flavors. We already spend so much time thinking about our food, it’s time our food started taking care of us.