Extra Virgin. Organic. Coconut. Olive. Avocado. Flax. There are a lot of options, which are the best?
Should I go extra virgin? Organic? What about sprays?
Great questions! Here is what the research says:
The best way to go about buying an oil is to have the most pure and minimally processed oil possible. Common sense right? Buy the product that isn’t packed full of preservatives and is in it's most “raw” form.
What does that look like? Organic and extra virgin. Easy. If you can, buy organic, extra virgin olive oil.
What about spray vs. liquid oils?
Spray oil is literally liquid oil in a can. If you look at the serving size on the liquid oil, you’ll notice says something like “ spray for 1/5 of a second.” How realistic is that? Who can actually spray that fast and accomplish the necessary coverage? Well, no one. That recommendation is, quite frankly, a marketing technique to allow the company to advertise their product as containing zero calories. Anything less than 5 calories can be considered “calorie-free” on a label. So if you're spraying for a total second, you can count on about 25 calories in your dish from your oil, and that's if you're being exact. The more you know, huh?
Let's talk more about those pesky calories. We've determined that spray oil and liquid oil are in the same realm as long as they are both extra virgin and organic. Now a bit more about calories with the spray. How many calories am I actually adding to my food? That’s very hard to tell. Ballpark coverage with the normal liquid and compare it to the spray. That’s as good as it gets in my opinion. If you don’t like that answer, use the measurable oil option.
Is olive oil the best? Each oil has their properties that make them unique and beneficial. Some people swear by coconut oil. Others argue that it has saturated fat, therefore it is bad. To it's defense, it is a different class of saturated fat which makes it unique and yields a potential health and energy benefit.
As with other oils, my advice is to AVOID palm, vegetable, and canola oils if possible. I know olive oil is not so appetizing when making a cake, so choose as best you can.
Thank you for investing in your health.
Joseph Champa, RD, CSCS