What is the best oil for cooking? Is there a true difference between cooking oils and frying oils? And why is the sunflower version getting so much attention lately? Is it truly an effective and healthy alternative to traditional cooking oils, or just another health fad? Is it difficult to find a reputable sunflower oil supplier?
Fried foods are not automatically unhealthy ones. But frying in any type of oil can increase the amount of saturated fats a food consumer takes in. Paying attention to frying oils used can eliminate this. A food preparer must consider an oil’s “smoke point” or the temperature at which it breaks down. The smoke point minimum is around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but different oils have different temperatures they reach this at. If a preparer doesn’t want much of it to be absorbed by the food, then he or she should fry just under the smoke point minimum. Once a cooking temperature has been established, the preparer can determine the best oil for cooking the dish. Sunflower oil with its mild taste, high Vitamin E content, and low in unsaturated fats, may be one of the best overall frying oils on the market. While still not as readily available as some vegetable oils, there are a number of sources for finding a good supplier.
Another oil which is getting media attention is soya, which is derived from whole soybeans. Like oil from the sunflower, this extract is light. It has no real taste. Like other vegetable oils, it can be used for everything from salad dressings to deep frying. Soya retains its natural antioxidants after extraction, and is very low in unhealthy fats, while containing healthy ones like poly-unsaturates. And soya is a very acceptable substitute for more traditional oils, like that made of olives. While olive oil can be very healthy, it has to be used with caution in frying. It has a very low smoke point and can quickly cross the line from healthy to unhealthy in this type of cooking. Soya oil does not have this issue, however, and is a good substitute for high temperature frying.
Sunflower oil can also be used as a substitute for olive oil when frying at higher temperatures. While it can serve as a substitute in other recipes calling for olive oil as well, preparers should remember its lighter taste, and that this might affect the flavour of the dish.