We don’t like to blanket-label oils as healthy or unhealthy. Nutrition can be complex and can sometimes depend on a variety of factors – from what you are using the oil for to who you are and what your body needs.
Oils are a key source of essential fatty acids and vitamin E, and therefore they are an important part of a healthy diet.
The richer in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and the less saturated fats an oil, the healthier an oil is considered. Proponents of the traditional, Mediterranean Oils (i.e. olive oil which is high in monounsaturated fats) are a good example when you look at the low incidence of cardiac problems in the Mediterranean countries that mainly use Mediterranean Oils.
The “Smoke Point” of a cooking oil is also important. The oil degrades when heated beyond its smoke point, producing harmful free radicals. The oil will taste burnt or bitter. It is our personal opinion that one should therefore never aim to get near the smoke point of the oil you are using.
The more refined an oil is, the higher the smoke point and the hotter it can get without degrading. The more virgin or unrefined your oil is, the more volatile it will be to heat, the more flavour it will have and the healthier it will be for you.
For Baking, use a neutral tasting oil so that it will not have an impact on the flavours you are working with (unless of course you are making an Olive Oil cake or something that highlights the taste of the oil in question)
For Dressings the smoking point doesn’t matter as the dressing won’t be heated.
For Frying, use an oil with a more neutral flavor and a high smoking point (typically above 220º [190 degrees] C)
For Searing and Sautéing, use an oil with a lower smoking point and some flavour.
This is why our chefs love our Blended Oils (See our Sky Range) as it enables you to both roast and lightly fry while still bringing in the flavours that oils can give you.