5 Healthiest Oils to Bake With
What Oil are You Using to Bake With?
No two oils are created equal. There are so many to choose from with several different uses and health benefits. Some are ideal for frying, grilling, baking, dressings, while others are used in skin and hair care products.
When searching for an oil to use for cooking, baking, dipping or to drizzling on your salad you should use one that has less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Any more than that and you will be at risk for high cholesterol. You also want to look for oils with more unsaturated fat than saturated fat.
When cooking, you need to try a variety of oils to find which flavor you like the best. Most oils on the market have a distinctive taste and will not go well with every dish. Before cooking with oil, you should be aware of the properties of the oil that you are using. Here are a couple of characteristics to look out for when choosing your oil for baking.
The smoke point is crucial when choosing an oil to cook with. The smoke point is the temperature that the oil breaks down. At that point, the oil will begin to produce toxic properties that you should not consume. This is because the oil is becoming more oxidized. Baking has a range of different temperatures that are commonly used, depending on what it is that you are baking. Typically, the temperatures range from 350-450 degrees Fahrenheit. The oil that you use to bake with needs to have a smoke point that is higher than this. If you bake with an oil that has a low smoke point, you will also lose most of the nutrients that the oil has to offer. As well as kill the unique flavor of the oil. You can tell when you are overheating an oil by the fumes that will begin to smell. If your oil gets to this point, discard it and start over. Nicotine isn’t the only type of smoke that kills. Burnt oil can kill you too.
Kinds of Fat
There are good fats, and there are bad fats. I am sure you’ve heard this before. Saturated fats and trans fats can raise your cholesterol. Trans fat, in particular, increase your low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and decrease your high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). You should limit the use of oils with more than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. The American Heart Association suggests that you lower your trans-fat intake to less than 7 percent of your calorie intake. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have a different effect. They are known to improve cholesterol levels. Other factors may include heart health, risk of cancer, and obesity. You can bake your cake and enjoy by using one the 5 healthiest oils for baking below.
5 Healthiest Oils for Baking
1. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is a healthy cooking option in pretty much any dish you can think of. Avocado oil is derived directly from the avocado, and the cold press version is something you should definitely keep in your cabinet. Avocado oil has low levels of oxidation, high monounsaturated fat levels, proper levels of antioxidants, and the presence of phytosterols. Phytosterols help to lower harmful cholesterol levels. They fight for the same enzymes in your gut as cholesterol, which prevents bad cholesterol from being absorbed. Avocado oil has a fantastically rich avocado flavor, which will make your baked goods even better (if you like avocados of course). The oil also boasts a pretty high smoke point at 520-degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it suitable for all kinds of cooking.
2. Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point at 420-degrees Fahrenheit. This would appear to make it a good oil for any type of cooking, but that isn’t the case. Grapeseed oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, which have a terrible reaction with oxygen at high heat levels. The fat forms free radicals, which are unstable atoms that cause cell damage. This makes the oil not the best choice for frying, but that isn’t the case for baking. Grapeseed oil is perfect for baking and adds a sweet fruity flavor to pastries. However, be mindful of using it if you don’t want a fruity taste in your baked goods.
3. Rice Bran Oil
Rice bran oil as an excellent option for baked goods, especially if you are a person that is trying to cut out gluten. It contains several vitamins and one of the highest levels of antioxidants on the market. It contains nearly no trans-fat. Rice bran oil helps to lower cholesterol, enhance the immune system, and defend against free radicals. It is a very light oil and has no overpowering flavor. This is ideal for many baking situations so that you don’t distort the flavor profile that you are aiming for. Rice bran oil also has a very high smoke point at 490-degrees Fahrenheit. You won’t easily find an oil so versatile.
4. Peanut Oil
Peanut Oil also goes by the name groundnut oil. It has an underwhelming taste, which makes it suitable for a variety of dishes. It also doesn’t absorb the flavor of the foods cooked in it. This is great because you can bake several different items with it and not worry about the taste carrying over. Its smoke point is relatively high at about 440-degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is high in polyunsaturated fat. This means that it is not as heat resistant as the oils mentioned above, which makes it vulnerable to oxidation. Although this is less of an issue when baking. Peanut oil boast benefits to heart health, blood flow, and cholesterol.
5. Olive Oil
There has been a lot of speculation over the years about the healthiness of olive oil.
However, olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fat, and it has high resistance to the oxidation and hydrogenation that occurs when cooking in high temperatures. These are the processes that turn many oils into trans fats. Monosaturated fats don’t have this problem because they are very heat resistant. It would take several hours to get to this point with olive oil. You want to try and get extra light olive oil for the best effect. Olive oils smoke point is between 390 to 470-degrees Fahrenheit, depending on what kind is used. This is certainly not amongst the highest smoke point of oils on the market, but it is high enough to get the job done.
3 Unhealthiest Oils for Baking
1. Palm Oil
While palm oil does have its place, it isn’t the best oil for baking situations. Palm oil mainly consists of saturated and monounsaturated fats. This means that it is very heat stable and does not experience oxidation easily. However, the high saturated fat content makes it prone to causing harm to your cardiovascular health. Baked goods can already be harmful to you, so this isn’t the best combination. It does have a high smoke point of 450-degrees Fahrenheit. Like peanut oil, it has a neutral taste that isn’t overbearing. However, to be safe, I recommend finding a naturally refined palm oil. Standard refined palm oil can be horrible for you. Also, if you are concerned about the environment, it may not be the oil for you. Palm oil production is said to be very harmful to the planet.
2. Cottonseed Oil
Cottonseed oil is another one of those highly controversial oils. Cottonseeds contain a natural toxin named gossypol. In order to remove this toxin, it must be refined. Unrefined cottonseed oil is mainly used as a pesticide (that isn’t very comforting). Gossypol has been connected to infertility and liver disease. With this said, I’d recommend staying away from cottonseed oil altogether. It has a smoke point of 420-degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t bad. While cottonseed oil does have some benefits, there are much better oils on the market suited for your baking needs.
3. Vegetable Oil (Blend)
When referring to vegetable oil blends, I am speaking of the products that are merely labeled vegetable oil. The problem with these oils is that they have all sorts of ingredients added to them. There isn’t much regulation to what is in them. These blends contain a variety of different vegetable oils as well as other harmful chemicals. They are inexpensive, which is why many consumers cling to them. However, the mixture makes it difficult to pinpoint what the benefits are versus the harmfulness. They usually are refined, which taints the health value of the different oils. You don’t have to get rid of the blend all together but use it with caution.
Temperatures to Bake Different Pastries
- Cookies – 350-400-degrees Fahrenheit
- Cake – 350-degrees Fahrenheit
- Muffins – 375-degrees Fahrenheit
- Biscuits – 425-degrees Fahrenheit
- Yeast Bread – 400-degrees Fahrenheit
- Cupcake – 350-375-degrees Fahrenheit
- Rice Pudding – 300-degrees Fahrenheit
- Brownies – 325-degrees Fahrenheit
- Pie – 350-degrees Fahrenheit
- Croissants – 375-400-degrees Fahrenheit
- Macaroni & Cheese – 350-degrees Fahrenheit
Buy your cooking oils in smaller portions to avoid it from getting oxidized and going rancid. Each oil has a different shelf-life, and it is crucial to abide by them. You need to store your oils in dark, cool places in order to keep them fresh for longer. When using oils, it is a good idea not to reuse the oils or keep at high temperatures for too long. This will also increase the chances of free radicals and trans-fat formulating by oxidation. Aside from these closing tips, enjoy your baked goods.