No, you shouldn’t use the best stuff you have in that vinaigrette.
In this era of The New Healthy, marked by double-digit annual growth in the global health and wellness industry, savvy cooks are spending more time reading labels to check for the quality and provenance of everything from meat and seafood to dairy and produce. We now know our kosher salt from our flaky fleur de sel and how the acid from a teaspoon of cider vinegar will enliven a pot of soup. So why are oils, something used almost daily, still an afterthought for so many home cooks?
After all, it’s oil that serves as the first building block of flavor when swirled into a hot pan, and it’s oil that is often the final flourish in a sauce spooned over proteins and grains or in a dressing for salad. Oil can make or break both the flavor and nutritional profile of a recipe.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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I learned my first lesson about quality the hard way around 12 years ago as a professional cook, when my chef walked by my station while I was whisking a Spanish extra-virgin olive oil into a lemon vinaigrette. “Don’t use the Nuñez!” he shouted as I mindlessly poured cups of Nuñez de Prado, at around $1 an ounce, into quart containers with minced shallots and lemon juice. “Don’t use the best stuff in the house for vinaigrettes.”
From that point on, I tasted my way through every oil in the kitchen and thought more critically about their utility—from the low-cost, high-smoke point soybean oil blend sold in 5-gallon jugs for the deep fryer and the neutral-flavored grapeseed oil used for emulsifying into mayonnaise, to the olive oil blends used for sautéing and that rich, sharp, peppery Nuñez de Prado meant for drizzling over grilled slices of rustic bread or serving alongside crudités.
Like every other ingredient in your kitchen, quality matters when it comes to oil, especially with more options on the supermarket shelf now. A Healthy Cook’s Guide to Oils will help you learn more about everyday workhorses like canola oil and corn oil and trending specialty oils like avocado and coconut, plus some of our top brand-name picks. Fat has a rightful (and righteous) place in every healthy cook’s kitchen. Use it wisely.
What's a Smoke Point and Why Does it Matter?
Niki Achitoff-Gray the editor-in-chief at Serious Eats and a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She's pretty big into oysters, offal, and most edible things.
Getting to know your fats can be a slippery business. If wading through the myriad bottles on supermarket shelves wasn't already a daunting task, then the latest word on saturated fats is enough to turn everything on its head. In this series, we'll be talking about what makes fats special, how to tell them apart, and how to pick the best one for the job.
Last week, we talked about what makes fats and oils essential to cooking. But what about the factors that set them apart? One of the most important things you'll want to consider when picking out a fat is smoke point.
But what is a smoke point, and why does it matter?
Ever left oil in a pan over high heat, only to turn around and find it billowing with smoke? That's because every cooking fat, be it butter, lard, or oil, has a smoke point: a temperature at which it stops shimmering and starts sending out some serious smoke signals. Learning how to interpret those signals is a crucial element of any good cook's vocabulary.
To understand how smoke points affect food, we have to look to where our fats come from and how they've been processed. Traditionally, oils are extracted from nuts and seeds through mechanical crushing and pressing. If bottled immediately thereafter, you've got a cold-pressed raw, or "virgin" oil, which tends to retain its natural flavor and color. Many unrefined oils are packed with minerals, enzymes, and other compounds that don't play well with heat and tend to be especially susceptible to rancidity these are the oils best-suited to drizzling, dressings, and lower temperature cooking.
To produce an oil with a high smoke point, manufacturers use industrial-level refinement processes like bleaching, filtering, and high-temperature heating to extract and eliminate those extraneous compounds. What you're left with is a neutral-flavored oil with a longer shelf life and a higher smoke point. Clarified butter, or ghee, follows the same basic concept: a process designed to extract more heat-sensitive components—in this case, milk solids—from a fat in order to raise its smoke point.
Now, when it comes to actually cooking with fats, smoking oil isn't always a bad thing—oftentimes, you'll want that wok or skillet ripping hot. But when a flavorful, raw oil or pool of butter starts sending up smoke, you're headed into a danger zone. Sure, smoke is pesky, but that's not why you should be concerned. Heated past its smoke point, that fat starts to break down, releasing free radicals and a substance called acrolein, the chemical that gives burnt foods their acrid flavor and aroma. Think watering eyes, a stinky kitchen, and bitter, scorched food.
Another side effect of that breakdown? As a fat degrades, it's also getting closer to its flash point, producing ignitable gases that you probably don't want hovering over an open flame. That said, if your oil starts to smoke, don't panic. You're almost definitely not about to spontaneously combust. But unless you're using a high-smoke point, neutral fat, you'll at least want to take it off the heat. And if it's a flavorful oil, give it a sniff and a taste once it's cooled if it's started to develop any unpalatable flavors, just pour it into a disposable container and replace it with a new batch.
The moral of the story? The higher a fat's smoke point, the more cooking methods you can use it for. But even if you've taken the care to purchase a high-smoke point oil, there are a few things you'll need to watch out for.
Light, heat, water, and air are the sworn enemies of cooking oils. While adding some used oil to a fresh batch can actually improve browning, you'll want to exercise care—hitting a smoke point further lowers that smoke point, so if your deep-frying fat has been smoking, you won't be able to successfully reuse it as many times. Most flavorful oils that don't get used rapidly, like avocado, hazelnut, sesame, and walnut oils, should be refrigerated. And no matter the oil's starting smoke point, you do NOT want to store it over the stove—the extra heat can lead to rapid rancidity.
Keep your oils tightly sealed in a cool, dark place and, if they come in a translucent bottle, consider wrapping them in tin foil to extend their shelf life.
Smoke Point Index
Here's a handy chart of the smoke points of common fats it's the list I was handed when I was in culinary school, courtesy of the latest edition of the Culinary Institute of America bible, The Professional Chef, with some gaps filled in by my personal bible, Modernist Cuisine.
|Type of Fat||Smoke Point||Neutral?*|
|Rice Bran Oil||490°F/260°C||Yes|
|Light/Refined Olive Oil||465°F/240°C||Yes|
|Avocado Oil (Virgin)||375-400°F/190-205°C||No|
|Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)||375°F/190°C||No|
|Extra-Virgin Olive Oil||325-375°F/165-190°C||No|
*All neutral oils listed on this chart are refined though unrefined versions of them do exist, these are the varieties most common to a home cook's repertoire. Meanwhile, the majority of flavorful oils are expeller-pressed and, though available refined, are often quite costly and uncommon.
So when do I pull out the big guns?
You'll want to make sure you're using fats with smoke points at or above 400°F when you're cooking at high temperatures.
About the COOC Seal: Why Olive Oil Certification Matters
Our California olive oils are all certified by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), which means these extra-virgin oils are made from 100% California-grown olives from the most recent harvest. The COOC’s goal is to give consumers confidence in knowing they are buying 100% true extra-virgin olive oil. To earn the COOC seal, the olive oil must pass chemical analysis standards and be taste-tested by the COOC’s highly trained taste panel.
The COOC certification program is simple. California producers submit their olive oil annually to an independent lab for analysis and to the COOC for a sensory evaluation. The COOC panel, comprised of trained tasters, use a blind tasting method to guarantee objectivity, tasting for attributes (overall quality) as well as defects. Only oils made from 100% California olives who meet the requirements and high standard are awarded the COOC certification. Here’s what you can expect from COOC-certified oils.
Freshness. Unlike wine, which matures with age, extra-virgin olive oil delivers the best flavor and the greatest health benefits when consumed within 18 months of bottling. The seal guarantees freshness.
Care & Quality. Extra-virgin is the highest grade an olive oil can receive — that means it’s produced without chemicals or extreme heat. The olive fruit is picked with care to preserve quality. Olive oils labeled with the COOC seal are extra-virgin and California-grown.
Optimal Flavor. During the blind taste test, the COOC panel ensures an oil is free of flavor defects and taste flaws. Flavor defects indicate the use of poor quality olives or olives that are not fresh. Milling at a high temperature (over 86 degrees F) can also negatively impact flavor and quality. Defects may include rancidity, due to the oxidation process that occurs as oils age, in addition to others.
Yes, this olive oil is cold-pressed.
According to its manufacturer, SALOV S.p.A., Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil is first- cold-pressed. This means that the oil has been extracted from the olives at a temperature below 80.6°F (27°C).
Traditionally, this was done using a traditional granite millstone that grinds the freshly-harvested olives into a pasta and hydraulic press that presses down on the olive paste, extracting the olive oil from them.
Today, most extra virgin olive oils are extracted using more modern production techniques, such as percolation or centrifugation, also at temperatures below 80.6°F (27°C). Cold pressing retains the natural aroma, flavor, and nutrition profile of olive oil.
Any olive oil extracted at higher temperatures or with different means are considered lesser-grade olive oils. They’re sold at a lower price and can’t be labeled as extra virgin olive oil. If you’re curious about the difference (and want to know why it matters), check out my long-form article about olive oil.
The Best Diet: Quality Counts
“A calorie is a calorie” is an oft-repeated dietary slogan, and not overeating is indeed an important health measure. Rather than focusing on calories alone, however, emerging research shows that quality is also key in determining what we should eat and what we should avoid in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Rather than choosing foods based only on caloric value, think instead about choosing high-quality, healthy foods, and minimizing low-quality foods.
- High-quality foods include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein – the foods recommended in the Healthy Eating Plate.
- Lower-quality foods include highly processed snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined (white) grains, refined sugar, fried foods, foods high in saturated and trans fats, and high-glycemic foods such as potatoes.
There isn’t one “perfect” diet for everyone, owing to individual differences in genes and lifestyle.
One study analyzed whether certain foods were more or less likely to promote weight gain. This type of research examining specific foods and drinks allows us to understand whether “a calorie is a calorie,” or if eating more higher-quality foods and fewer lower-quality foods can lead to weight loss and maintenance.
Researchers in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health show us that quality is in fact very important in determining what we should eat to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and that the notion of “a calorie is a calorie” does not tell the whole story.
- In a study of over 120,000 healthy women and men spanning 20 years, researchers determined that weight change was most strongly associated with the intake of potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and both processed and unprocessed red meats. The researchers concluded that consumption of processed foods higher in starches, refined grains, fats, and sugars can increase weight gain.
- Foods shown to be associated with weight loss were vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt.
- Researchers did not discount the importance of calories, instead suggesting that choosing high-quality foods (and decreasing consumption of lower-quality foods) is an important factor in helping individuals consume fewer calories. (23)
View the HSPH news release, “Changes in specific dietary factors may have big impact on long-term weight gain: Weight-loss Strategy to Only ‘Eat Less, Exercise More” May be Overly Simplistic’”
Managing macronutrients: Does it matter?
With the proliferation of macronutrient-based diets over the past several decades, from low-fat to low-carbohydrate, discussion of the three main macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – has become standard when talking about optimal diets. Researchers have begun comparing these “macronutrient management”-style diets to one another in order to determine which is most effective, but thus far evidence is largely inconclusive.
One study, published in JAMA in 2007, compared four weight-loss diets ranging from low to high carbohydrate intake. This 12-month trial followed over 300 overweight and obese premenopausal women, randomly assigning them to either an Atkins (very low carbohydrate), Zone (low carbohydrate), LEARN (high carbohydrate), or Ornish (very high in carbohydrate) diet.
- After one year, weight loss was greater for women in the Atkins diet group compared with the other diet groups.
- This study also examined secondary outcomes focused on metabolic effects (such as cholesterol, body fat percentage, glucose levels and blood pressure), and found that those for the Atkins group were comparable with or more favorable than the other diet groups.
- There was no significant difference in weight loss among the other three diets (Zone, LEARN, and Ornish).
- This study does raise questions about about long-term effects and mechanisms, but the researchers concluded that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet may be considered a feasible recommendation for weight loss. (24)
Another study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, challenged the above study’s findings by testing four different types of diets and producing results that showed comparable average weight loss among the different diets.
- The study followed 800 people over 2 years, assigning subjects to one of four diets: Low-fat and average-protein, low-fat and high-protein, high-fat and average-protein, and high-fat and high protein.
- Researchers concluded that all of the diets resulted in meaningful weight loss, despite the differences in macronutrient composition.
- The study also found that the more group counseling sessions participants attended, the more weight they lost, and the less weight they regained. This supports the idea that not only is what you eat important, but behavioral, psychological, and social factors are important for weight loss as well. (25)
An additional study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2010, looked at the role of protein and glycemic index upon weight loss maintenance. Researchers first implemented a low-calorie diet to produce weight loss, then examined whether protein and glycemic index impacted weight loss maintenance.
- The study population was made up of nearly 800 overweight adults from European countries who had lost at least 8% of their initial body weight with a low-calorie diet. Participants were then assigned one of five diets to prevent weight regain over a 26-week period: A low-protein and low-glycemic-index diet, a low-protein and high-glycemic-index diet, a high-protein and low-glycemic-index diet, a high-protein and high-glycemic-index diet, or a control diet.
- The low-protein-high-glycemic-index diet was associated with subsequent significant weight regain, and weight regain was less in the groups assigned to a high-protein diet than in those assigned to a low-protein diet, as well as less in the groups assigned to a low-glycemic-index diet than in those assigned to a high-glycemic-index diet.
- These results show that a modest increase in protein content and a modest reduction in the glycemic index led to an improvement in maintenance of weight loss. (26)
The results from these three studies suggest that there may be some benefits to a macronutrient-based dietary approach, but research also shows that while a particular diet may result in weight loss for one person, it may not be effective for another person due to individual differences in genes and lifestyle. For those seeking the “perfect” one-size-fits-all diet, then, there isn’t one! The great news is that everyone can follow The Healthy Eating Plate guidelines and choose healthy, flavorful foods to create a diet that works best for you.
23. Mozaffarian, D., et al., Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med, 2011. 364(25): p. 2392-404.
24. Gardner, C.D., et al., Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA, 2007. 297(9): p. 969-77.
25. Sacks, F.M., et al., Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates .N Engl J Med,2009. 360(9): p. 859-73.
26. Larsen, T.M., et al., Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index for weight-loss maintenance .N Engl J Med, 2010. 363(22): p. 2102-13.
The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.
The Inconvenient Truth About Convenient Cookware
Out of all the different types of cookware available today, the most commonly used is PTFE-coated "non-stick" cookware which is also sometimes referred to as Teflon cookware. The most obvious benefit of this equipment is that it provides the capacity to cook any meal without the likelihood of having to scrape burnt remains off it afterward - an attractive proposition for convenience-minded consumers. In 2014, U.S. retail sales of non-stick cookware amounted to around 1.45 billion USD. With the average piece of non-stick cookware costing between $10-20 USD on Amazon.com, that figure boils down to somewhere between 70 - 150 million pieces of non-stick cookware being sold into American homes during 2014 alone. Extrapolate this data over a few decades, and you end up with a tremendous number of conventional non-stick cookware items in use across the United States.
So what's the issue with using non-stick cookware and why should it matter to you?
Get in front of at-home social media food trends
Food trends no one could have predicted are taking off on social media. When it became clear that whipped coffee (or Dalgona coffee) was accelerating into a social media phenomenon, we helped our client coordinate with Dell, who I’ve worked with closely for the past six years, to produce a one-minute how-to recipe video in just three days. It was shared on the American Dairy Association Mideast’s social media the same week, and, to date, it has received nearly 50,000 views across channels.
“Influencers have the unique ability to pivot and adapt on the spot,” Dell said. “Not every business can be as reactionary.” She said influencers can fill immediate needs.
Having strong blogger and influencer relationships matters. Had we not been able to call on her last-minute to quickly produce the video, we would have lost our chance to be at the forefront of an emerging trend. Adding the Beyond Frosting name and logo to it gave the recipe expanded credibility, because Dell’s site is a respected source for cooking tips and high-quality recipes, and sharing it with her networks greatly expanded reach.
Coconut Oil: Is it Healthy or Harmful?
Every so often a new food trend arrives, promising a healthier heart, a metabolism boost, or overall longevity and general health. These trends come and go, with varying degrees of popularity and success, but coconut oil, with purported myriad health benefits, seems to have exceptional staying power.
That may be because 72 percent of the public thinks it is a healthy addition to their diets, according to a 2016 survey by The New York Times and the polling firm Morning Consult. Coconut oil, which comes from extracting the fat from the white insides of a coconut, is so popular that it can be found not only in small health food stores, but also in major grocery chains next to other cooking oils such as olive and canola.
The rub? While many Americans polled believed coconut oil to be a health food, only 37 percent of nutritionists agreed. That could be because of its saturated fat content, which is even higher than that of butter (a tablespoon of butter has 7 grams of saturated fat compared with 12 grams in a tablespoon of coconut oil). Consuming high levels of saturated fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Perhaps that’s why a University of Freiburg professor labeled coconut oil “pure poison” in a July lecture.
Health Matters turned to Dr. Jennifer Haythe, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and co-director of the Women’s Heart Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, to understand whether it makes sense to incorporate coconut oil into one’s diet, and how it compares with other cooking oils when it comes to heart health.
Is cooking with coconut oil as healthy as some folks claim it to be?
Probably not. It’s very high in saturated fat. Butter is 64 percent saturated fat, whereas coconut oil is about 90 percent saturated fat. The reason why people think it might be healthy is it contains lauric acid, which increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind), which in turn protects against heart attack and stroke. But it also increases LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), which contributes to narrowing of the arteries and increases one’s risk of a heart attack and stroke.
What do studies of coconut oil’s effect on the heart show?
There really is no data to support that it’s good for your heart or that it improves heart health. There’s a lot of data on using coconut oil in mice and rabbits, but there’s not a lot of real, solid data looking at coconut oil in humans. In 2016, researchers reviewed findings from about 21 studies, looking at the effect of coconut oil or coconut oil products on cholesterol. Compared with unsaturated oils like olive oil, sunflower, safflower, and corn oils, coconut oil actually raised your HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol. Again, these are not studies looking at survival or mortality or incidence of heart disease. These are studies that are just looking at cholesterol levels per se. And then people are extrapolating from there.
Are there any pros to cooking with coconut oil?
For people who cook at very high temperatures, coconut oil is a good one to use because it has a very high smoking point. That means it won’t smoke at very high temperatures, which is a healthier environment for people to cook in. It has a semisolid quality when left at room temperature, so there are some people who think it may be helpful to use as a replacement for cooking things that would use butter, like baked goods.
Which oils rate highly in terms of heart health?
Olive oil is definitely the best. It has the least amount of saturated fat and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Comparatively speaking, a tablespoon of coconut oil has six times the amount of saturated fat than a tablespoon of olive oil. Canola oil is low in saturated fat, and it’s also a liquid at room temperature. It has a higher smoking point than olive oil, so it can be used safely for cooking at high temperatures, but people don’t always like its flavor. Flaxseed oil has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which may contribute to heart health. Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can promote healthy cholesterol levels. It also has a high smoke point and is used for stir-frying, sautéing, and searing, but it may be too expensive for some people to use regularly. Nut oils like walnut oil are good, because nuts are part of the Mediterranean diet, but can be very expensive.
How much olive oil do you recommend consuming daily?
If you’re in good health, about two tablespoons daily may reduce the risk of heart disease due to the beneficial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in olive oil. One tablespoon serving has about 14 grams of fat, with most of it being heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
What oils should be avoided?
I’d avoid palm oil, which is very high in saturated fats, as well as oils that are labeled as partially hydrogenated, such as vegetable oil. They contain trans fats and can increase your risk of heart disease. In 2015 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that manufacturers must remove all trans fat from processed foods by June 18, 2018, but that deadline has been extended to January 1, 2020.
As for coconut oil, it can be used in moderation since the data really is still out. In general, if your diet for the most part is olive oil, then it’s OK to have a little coconut oil here and there. It’s not going to kill you.
Depending where you are in the world, your bowl (or martini glass, or. goblet) of ceviche will look very different.
If you're in Peru (thought by many to be the birthplace of ceviche), you'll find boiled corn, sweet potato, and corn nuts accompanying your dish. Elsewhere in South America you might find popcorn, fried green plantain (patacones), and plantain chips (chifle) on the side. In Mexico, tostadas, or fried corn tortillas, are commonly used.
For this rather unorthodox ceviche, we borrowed techniques and ingredients from all over the world, from Japan to Mexico. Read on to learn how all these elements come together.
When it comes to fish, quality really matters when making ceviche. All the other ingredients &mdash the mix-ins, the marinade &mdash exist to enhance and compliment the flavor of the fish. No opportunity to mask unsavory smells or textures here! Because we know high-quality white fish commonly used in ceviches can be hard to find in the states, we went with something that wasn't: salmon. But not traditional doesn't mean it's not delicious! If you've eaten salmon raw before you know it's insanely smooth and decadent. If you do your research (or chat with your fishmonger) to find a high quality salmon, you will be rewarded with some seriously delicious ceviche. We say: worth it!
We kept things *mostly* true to Peruvian-style ceviche for the mix-ins, with crunchy red onions, fresh cilantro, and a finely chopped hot pepper. Traditionally lemon drop peppers (AKA aji lemon peppers) are used to bring the heat, along with some tropical citrus flavor. Since those can be tricky to find, I'd suggest a serrano, jalapeño, or scotch bonnet pepper as a replacement. Always taste a small bit of pepper before adding it to your ceviche all peppers are a little bit different. Remember: you can always add more spice, but it's very hard to tone it down once you've added too much.
We did borrow one thing from Mexican-style ceviche: avocado. We love a little added creaminess, but feel free to leave it out.
Borrowing again from Peru, we're making a blended ceviche marinade, often known as leche de tigre*. Citrus juice, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, red onion, and fish scraps take a spin in the blender, before being strained and added to our fish. This flavorful, magical marinade is all Peruvian, though there may be an ingredient that surprises you: ginger!
Take a look at Peru's history and you'll see why. In the early 1800s, Japanese immigrants began arriving in Peru, bringing ingredients and cooking methods with them. In this recipe, we see Japanese influence not only in the ingredients, but in the technique. Before Japanese immigration, Peruvians were marinating their ceviche for hours. The Japanese immigrants taught Peruvians to appreciate fish in a more "lightly cooked" form, via marination that takes minutes (if not seconds) to complete, forever changing the preparation of one of the country's most beloved dishes. Today, Japanese-Peruvians have created a cuisine all their own, called Nikkei.
As mentioned above, there are so many delicious accompaniments for ceviche. We drew inspiration from Mexico and went with fried corn tortillas &mdash ours just happen to come out of a bag. 😅 No matter what you eat it with, we promise it'll be delicious. Happy marinating!
*Wondering why it's called tiger's milk? In Peru, some people believe taking a "shot" of the marinade left in the bottom of your bowl can cure a hangover, and that the sour-spicy sip elicits a tiger-like roar from the drinker. Others claim it's an aphrodisiac, and can make you a "tiger" in the bedroom. 😂
Why Quality Matters When It Comes to Cooking Oil - Recipes
Fats are probably the most interesting macromolecules in food because there are so many different types of fats. Unfortunately, food fats have been given a bad reputation, in part because body fat is the way we store excess calories, and, in part because certain food fats, including saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol, have been associated with health conditions like cardiovascular disease and obesity.
The facts, however, are different. Not only are food fats not always bad, but some food fats have been shown to be health-promoting, and some food fats are absolutely essential for your health. So, when you think about food fats, the quality of the fat, and therefore the quality of the food from which you are getting the fat, really matters.
Within the unsaturated fats, there are two basic kinds, called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, are usually liquid at room temperature but will form solids in the refrigerator. That's why you'll find an oil like olive oil, which is about 70% monounsaturated, becoming thicker, less clear, and more difficult to pour when placed in the refrigerator. Polyunsaturated fats tend to stay liquid regardless of temperature. That's why you'll find highly polyunsaturated plant oils, like sunflower oil, or soybean oil, or flaxseed oil, remaining liquid at both room and refrigerator temperatures.
All types of fat are needed by the body, including saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. These fats also serve a wide variety of different purposes. All of our cell membranes contain fat in their chemical composition, and many of our cells can also burn fat as an energy-providing fuel. Fats also store and carry nutrients around the body, provide physical insulation for body organs, help maintain body temperatures, and play a wide variety of different roles in metabolism. These are some of the reasons that the fats found in food are essential to health.