Learn how to dispose of your cooking oil properly to avoid unwanted blockages and discover what the best cooking oils are.
How to dispose of cooking oil
As oil solidifies, it’s really important not to pour it down the sink as it will cause drain blockages. Even worse, the oil can join forces underground with other materials like wet wipes and similar materials to cause fatbergs.
The best thing to do is to dispose of the oils in a food waste bin provided by local councils.
If you don’t have access to this, you can also use a sealed container to collect the oil. Alternatively, you can mop up old oil with a paper towel and then seal that in another food waste container before disposing.
Excess oil should never be poured down the drain. Instead, make sure you wipe up the excess with a paper towel before rinsing.
Which are the healthiest cooking oils?
When it comes to cooking oils, we now have more choice than ever and their use is by no means limited to just cooking either. They can be used in baking recipes, as dressings and even in hot drinks.
We have oils made from vegetables, fruits, seeds, grains and even nuts to choose from. But when it comes down the healthiness factor, olive oil continues to be one of the best options available.
The triglycerides in olive oil have been proven to reduce our LDL (our bad cholesterol levels). Plus, it’s also been found to have positive effects on blood glucose levels which can help reduce the risk of diabetes.
There are others that fall into the healthy bracket with both sunflower and avocado oils being good healthy options too. Both of these oils boast high levels of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is important right now in the era of Covid19 as it helps protect the immune system to keep us healthy. It also helps maintain healthy skin and eyes.
With sunflower oil, it’s recommended to go for high oleic sunflower oils. That’s because these oils are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation.
Whereas the high linoleic sunflower oils are rich in Omega 6 which can actually cause inflammation, so that distinction is important.
Coconut oil for cooking – does it live up to the hype?
Coconuts are certainly on-trend. We are seeing coconut flavoured everything right now across food, cosmetics and toiletries.
It’s easy to buy coconut oil in the shops, but it does have the highest saturated fat level when compared to other oils out there.
If you are opting for this oil, use sparingly and remember that coconut has a very distinctive taste.
This means you do need to consider if it clashes with what you are preparing in the kitchen too. It’s also important to be mindful of its high calorie content.
There has been a lot of hype around coconut being a superfood of late but having pieces of coconut as a snack or drinking coconut water is very different to coconut oil.
Even the British Heart Foundation don’t recommend that you go overboard with it.
This is because believe that there isn’t enough research to support some of the health claims being promoted in the press concerning coconut oils.
Cooking with olive oil – should we be doing it or not?
We should definitely be cooking with olive oil but ideally it needs to be extra virgin olive oil. This means it’s of a high quality and isn’t refined giving it a more natural and less processed profile.
In fact, studies have proven that this is much healthier than standard olive oil.
This type of olive oil has the highest amount of antioxidants in comparison to all other oils on the market. But as with any oil, smoking point affects the usage.
Oils with low smoking points don’t work well with high heat cooking and oils with high smoking points are much better with hotter cooking methods.
If you are cooking with any oil, including olive oil, be careful not to burn the oil as it can destroy the healthy nutrients and change the taste profile.
In some cases, it can also release free radicals which can damage our cells and cause us to feel generally unwell.
Loved for its versatility, extra virgin olive oil continues to be a favourite on salads. Plus, it has even been linked to heart health in numerous studies.
It is a common myth that you shouldn’t heat it as it works well in cooking with no major issues with most hot dishes.
It’s definitely a better option than vegetable oil which is not only processed and refined but also lacking in healthy nutrients.
Avoid vegetable oil made from mixed sources such as corn, soy, palm and canola at all costs.
These are high in saturated fats and many tend to have additional food additives such as preservatives, colourings, emulsifiers, flavours, sodium which are not great for our health.
Which are the best cooking oils?
Aside from extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil is particularly good for cooking as the flavour cannot be detected.
It’s unrefined and it’s perfect in things like stir fries due to its high smoking point.
Sesame oil is also really good on any high heat recipe as it too has a high smoke point and it’s bursting with vitamin E.
It can be quite strong in flavour so that needs to be thought about with regards to meal choice.
Due to their low smoke points, walnut oil and flaxseed oil do not make for good cooking oil options and are better kept for use as dressings.
Which cooking oils aren’t vegan?
Pretty much all of the oils on the market are vegan in terms of their direct ingredients.
However, there is some debate on palm, coconut and almond oil that may make them unpopular with vegan consumers.
Palm oil (often found in many vegetable oils) continues to be in the news and is well documented for its deforestation issues.
Almond oil takes a vast amount of resources to produce and with coconuts, monkeys can sometimes be used to pick the coconuts and held in abusive conditions.
How much cooking oil should we be using?
A little goes a long way with any of the oils and moderation is key. Even the healthier fats (polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats) still contain calories.
So, the oils should form part of an overall balanced diet with a good ratio of carbs, fats and protein. One tablespoon daily is recommended, so make sure you don’t overdo it.
We hate food waste and one of the best ways to cut it down is to learn how to store your food properly.
Here are our top tips on how to store food to keep it fresher for longer.