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Advice Column: Losing Weight

By Noor H. Salem, tmoquestions@gmail.com


Question: While trying to lose weight and cut fried food, I decided to start frying in olive oil or sometimes vegetable shortening instead. Is there any health concern or is it healthier? 


Good choice on trying to cut fried food from your diet, it’s a positive step towards a healthy lifestyle. You are not alone being confused when it comes to using oils in the kitchen.

While Extra Virgin Olive Oil is very beneficial health wise, when it comes to frying, put that oil down. I don’t recommend you ever use olive oil to fry, since it’s a moderately stable fat. Olive Oil has a smoke point of 375 degrees, so deep frying homemade French fries or stir-frying on very high heat for 15 minutes is going to damage the fats. In the worst case scenario if you have no other alternative, use olive oil and cook on very low heat. Otherwise, find a substitute. However, I do believe that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the healthiest foods; just make sure you’re buying Extra Virgin, and nothing else. Top it on your steamed vegetables or add it to fresh squeezed lemon juice along with seasonings for your salad.

I don’t recommend you use vegetable shortening for anything that’s going into your mouth. Not only is it very unstable oil for cooking, it has Trans fat, which could impact your cholesterol level. Believe it or not, vegetable shortening is a chemically processed form of vegetable oil, which gives it that very thick texture caused by hydrogenation. While it may sound healthy with the word “vegetable” in there, I recommend don’t let that oil go farther than the store shelves.

Enough bad news, there are many oil alternatives if you really have to make fried food. When regarding the smoke point of oils, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is one good choice, with a smoke point of up to 450. Palm oil, or ghee, have smoking points of 455 and 480, which again make them better choices for frying.

While I recommend you limit frying, finding oil with a higher smoking point and stability would be good. I don’t recommend you limit oil from your diet, for they are very beneficial. Extra Virgin Olive Oil lowers your triglycerides and stabilizes your blood sugar. It’s good for your hair and skin, and has been proven to prevent cancer. Organic sesame seed oil, Organic flaxseed oil, and Organic grapeseed oil are other oils I put in my food often.


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