GREASE LITE-NING: Learn To Fry More Healthily

Photography: Arabella Gubay @inkauckland.co.nz

There’s no denying that fat is fattening, but deep frying your food need not be much more calorific or unhealthy than your average meal. Learn which best way to fry more healthily…

It is pretty hard to deny that frying food is one best cooking methods to produce deliciously scrumptious food. One of the main reasons we don’t tend to eat it more is the fact that we are all worried about the effects it may have on our waistline and the tendency for fried food to make us feel a bit icky. Or to put it more succinctly, it is the fact that fried food tends to be unhealthy – the is a way to fry more healthily.

There is no denying that fat is fattening – with your average fat molecule having more than twice the calories than the same weight in carbohydrates – but the fact is that deep frying your food need not be much more fattening or unhealthy than your average meal. If you use the right cooking techniques and choose the correct fat to cook with you will find that your food will not be overly greasy or fattening. Oh and of course the most important thing of all – it will be even tastier and yummy  for it. Nobody likes the greasy heavy feeling that can be the result of eating soggy oil ridden food that has been fried incorrectly with poor quality oil.

The facts about frying more healthily

The first measure towards learning to fry more healthily is to make sure you fry at the right temperature. This is so the outside skin of the food seals off properly and does not essentially boil in the fat, which will render the food soggy and oily and cause it to take in more fat than otherwise would be the case. If this happens fried food will not taste good, leave us feeling sick afterwards and be very fattening.

For deep frying, the ideal temperature to fry more healthily is usually between 175°C – 190°C (350°F – 375°F). Therefore it is important to choose an oil that has a high smoke point (the point at which the oil starts smoking, which is a sign that the oil is starting to break down into an unhealthy mess). Furthermore, the more times you use the same oil with which to fry, the lower the smoke point becomes, as the oil slowly begins to break down under the pressures of intense heat. So it is not advisable to use the same oil to fry with time and again. Two to three times should be your maximum if you want to fry more healthily.

The oil’s smoke point is not the only aspect that should be considered – contrary to popular belief – when deciding which oil best to cook with. In fact the whole issue of which fats are healthy and why is also contingent upon another factor – its health properties and the stability of the oil’s molecular structure which in turn affects how it behaves under intense heat.

Most of the oils that are touted as being good for deep frying tend to be extremely refined poly-unsaturated oils such as canola, peanut and soya. It is true that they do have a high smoke point because and only because they a highly refined. If these oils were in their unrefined – and healthy nutritious state – they would not be good for frying with at all. So in terms of overall health these oils are not ideal, although better than using unrefined oils, which cannot be heated to high temperatures at all.

Good oils to use to fry more healthily

Good oils and fats to use to fry more healthily include rice bran (smoke point of 254°C or 490°F), which has a 36% poly-unsaturated, 48% mono-unsaturated and 17% saturated content. The saturated fat content does protect the volatile poly-unsaturated content somewhat, but rice bran oil is ok to use at meduim temperatures. Probably not ideal for deep frying but better than most. Coconut oil (smoke point 178°C or 352°F) has a 86% saturated fat content and is very healthy. But is is important to use unrefined coconut oil which is quite expensive and has a smoke point which is at the lower end of the ideal cooking temperature for deep frying. So it is not advisable to use it numerous times to fry with – which only makes it more expensive. Palm kernel oil also has a high smoke point (235°C or 455°F) and a high saturated fat content (81%) but it is a highly unethical product with some of the worlds most important forests and habitats being destroyed at an alarming rate in order to plant these crops. Ghee (252°C or 485°F) and a high saturated fat content of 62% and a very low poly-unsaturated fat content of 4% (lard has a relatively high poly-unsaturated content so is not good) and is relatively inexpensive and very very tasty. This is the same for beef tallow (fat).

So Nom Nom’s three top picks to fry more healthy are unrefined coconut oil (the healthiest if you can afford it), ghee and beef tallow. For more information on why saturated fats are not necessarily bad for your health and in many cases (coconut oil in particular, but also free-range and organic animal fat in moderation) can be quite beneficial for your health (in moderate doses) click here.

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2 thoughts on “GREASE LITE-NING: Learn To Fry More Healthily

  1. Pingback: Chewing the Fat: Heating & Eating Healthy Fats & Oils

  2. Pingback: RECIPE: Broccoli Pakora & Sour Cherry & Date Chutney - ROAR

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