In picking the healthiest oils, there are still more factors to consider. Though sunflower oil isn't the highest scoring oil in terms of cholesterol, it is neutral. But it, along with walnut, and brazil nut contain enormous amounts of anti-oxidents (more than even the famous blueberry), and is therefore a powerful tool in fighting free radicals. And saflower oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids, and important nutrient required for proper brain growth and maintenance. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in flax seeds and flax seed oil, and in fish oils.
Nut and seed oils tend to be at the top in terms of healthy oils due to their abilities to either lower ldl cholesterol, or at the very least, not contribute to it, and to provide other essential nutrients to the body, such as the above mentioned omega 3's and anti-oxidents. Vatamin E a fat-soluable nutrient that is obtained only in oil, and is well known for it's anti-oxident properties.
And then there are oils which none of us ever even consider, but probably should. It is the essential and arromatic oils in citrus skins that provide flavor when we use the zest. These oils are also high in anti-oxidents. So when we use them, we are adding to the nutritional value of the foods that they are used in.
I do not use canola oil as it is just too controverisal. There is a camp that maintains that it has been thrust on the consumer by a profit loving industry, using bad science to hide its debilitating properties. And then again, there are those that claim it is the best product since baked bread. If you do some research, you will find vast amounts of info on the internet supporting both claims. But most of the info supporting canola oil comes from the manufacturers. And since I can obtain the same benefits touted for canola by using sunflower, avacado, olive, and other oils, why take the chance. Besides, an oil stain from canola never comes out of clothing, not matter what you do to remove it.
I have several shirts that have been ruined by canola splatters obtained while frying (I know, I should have been wearing one of my aprons).
And as far as saturated fats go, many people use butter without a thought, but shy away from lard. In reality, butter dontains significant;ly more saturate fat than does lard (pork fat). And did you know that the human body requires saturated fat for many of its essential functions, albeit in very small amounts.
Any way you look at it, fat is essential for bodily functions. But using a lot of fat in your meals is bad, no matter what kind of fat that you use. So use cooking techniques which reduce fat intake. Olive oil is great, but not with every meal. Use butter, but do it sparingly. When cooking meats, try to use methods that will pull fat away from the meat. Reduce consumption of deep fried foods.
I grew up with brook trout, dredged in flour and pan fried in oil, or perch, dipped in batter and deep fried. But I recently made a recipe using fish, jelly rolled around a filling, and baked. I sprayed it with jsut a touch of cooking spray and baked at a high temperature. The result was as good as any fried fish I'd ever had, but had so much less fat.
This is an example of just one little meal. Oven frying is a valid and useful techniqe for reducing fat while creating wonderful food, as is the barbecue grill, steaming, poaching, broiling.
There are so many great cooking methods available to us that uses of fat can easily be reduced without sacrificing anything. But using fat is what we've been taught to do, and it's very easy. But when you really think about it, is making a roullaide any more difficult than dipping something in egg wash, then in a mixture of flour and seasonings, then deep or pan frying, where you have to watch each batch continuously to avoid burning the food? Not really.
So along with knowing your fats, learn to use alternative cooking methods, and don't be afraid to try new things. Your body and toungue will thank you. And if we teach our children to cook with limited fats, they will be so much ahead on the road to healthy families than we who were taught to use inordinate amounts of fat in our cooking.
Oh, and asa for why sunflower oil, the 2nd most widely produced food oil in the planet, is no longer flund on U.S. shelves, it is because it has become enormously popular in Europe for its health properties, and is sold to that market in vast amounts, making it difficult to purchase here in the U.S. At least that's what an article I read said. But I ordered a case of it from a local warehouse distributor and so have a stash on the way. Also, it jsut didn't sell well here due to a lack of consumer knowledge, and a good advertizing campaign by the canola people. People just didnt' purchase it in large enough quantities and so grocers quit stocking it.
If you want it on store shelves, you have to have enough people want it so that store owners see it as a vlauable product for them to stock.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North