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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Watching Dr Oz Quiz 2/11/12: Oils for Baking

On last week's The Dr. Oz Show, which heart-healthy oil did Dr. Oz recommend for baking?

A. Olive oil
B. Macadamia nut oil
C. Canola oil
D. Walnut oil

The Answer:
Macadamia nut oil

Your Answers:
Olive oil - 36%
Macadamia nut oil - 22%
Canola oil - 24%
Walnut oil - 17%


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On the January 31, 2012 episode of The Dr. Oz Show, 99 Diet Foods, Dr. Oz talked about heart health oils and specifically recommended macadamia nut oil for baking.

The healthiest oils are high in healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fat in olive oil, and low in saturated fats. Olive and canola oils support the raising of good cholesterol and lowering of bad cholesterol, according to Dr. Oz.

Products labeled as vegetable oils, says Dr. Oz, are a left over mix of any oils around, are fragile, go rancid faster, and are no more than junk.

The two key oils for all uses are olive and canola, says Dr. Oz. I would agree with the olive oil being all purpose however there is some controversy about canola oil. Some say canola oil is an over-processed evil and others say it's just great. Perhaps I've been sensitized to dislike it having worked in natural foods for so long.

What are the facts on fats? How do you choose the best fat for baking and cooking?

There are three main fats that you want to look at when seeking a healthy oil. Each fat plays a necessary role in the functioning of our body however it's important to get each type in their optimum amounts. Too much of a good fat can be a bad thing.

Monounsaturated Fat: This is the shining star of fats. Monounsaturated fats are supportive of heart health, of balanced blood sugar, and can help to reduce over all risks of heart disease, says the Mayo Clinic. This fat is found in many different foods.

Polyunsaturated Fat: This fat is found in many plant foods and is also found in animal foods. The Mayo Clinic says omega-3's come from this form of fat making polyunsaturated fats beneficial to reducing the risks of heart disease and it's also been linked with reduced risks of diabetes.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat gets a bad wrap, being blamed for all heart disease and a long list of other diseases. It's not all bad, though. The heart and brain, in particular, require saturated fat to function at top level. Both the brain and heart can, and will, use other oils for fuel if saturated fat is not present in the body but these other oils are not providing the best food possible. Does that mean you can and should eat lots of saturated fat? No, not at all. Small amounts are good and large amounts are bad. The general recommended amount of saturated fat is about 10%, or less, of your total calories.

Olive Oil
I consider olive oil an all-propose oil and it's the oil I buy and use the most. The smoke point is high enough to use in baking. recommends olive oil for baking along with mac nut oil. Olive oil appears to be the super-star of the oil world. It's even been given a nickname, acronym, by Chef Rachael Ray: EVOO. She prefers the extra virgin variety.

Olive oil can be used in most every situation where oil is called for.

Olive Oil by the numbers:
Monounsaturated: 78%
Polyunsaturated: 8%
Saturated: 14%
Smoke point: extra virgin 320F, virgin 420F, light 468F

Note: a light, or refined olive oil was used for the fat percentages.

Macadamia Nut Oil
Dr. Oz says that mac nut is the best for baking and I can certainly see his point. The smoke point of mac nut oil is higher than olive oil and will cover more baking situations. The most common temperature called for in baking is 350F, well below mac nut oils high point but that mean, technically, olive oil shouldn't be used in too many baking situations.

Mac Nut Oil by the numbers:
Monounsaturated: 83%
Polyunsaturated: 3%
Saturated: 13%
Smoke point: 390F

Canola Oil
Even with a good mix of percentages in each of the oil categories and a high smoke point, canola oil looks good on paper I still hold a bias toward it. I know that many people see canola as an all-purpose oil. In that regard, my thought is that olive oil is just as all-purpose with greater health benefits.

Canola Oil by the numbers:
Monounsaturated: 62%
Polyunsaturated: 31%
Saturated: 15%
Smoke point: 400F

Walnut Oil
Walnut oil provides a bonus of bringing omega-3's to the table. It, too, has a high smoke point but it's nutty flavor would make it tricky to use in some baking situations. Dr. Oz says that walnut oil becomes bitter at high temperature so even though the smoke point it high, those temperatures can drastically change the flavor of the oil. Walnut oil is best used for salad dressings and as a substitute for butter. Dr. Oz called the taste orgasmic! Oh, yes he did say that!

Walnut Oil by the numbers:
Monounsaturated: 24%
Polyunsaturated: 67%
Saturated: 9%
Smoke point: 400F

Sesame Oil
A staple in Asian cooking, sesame oil also has a high smoke point but can also change flavors when exposed to high temperatures. Sesame oil is often used as a finishing oil, applied at the last moment of cooking or right after the food is removed from heat.

Sesame Oil by the numbers:
Monounsaturated: 41%
Polyunsaturated: 44%
Saturated: 15%
Smoke point: 410F

Oils with a higher level of saturated fat turn into a solid at room temperature. Coconut oil, butter, and lard are all solid at room temperature and pack on the saturated fat.

Coconut Oil
Where's the coconut oil on the list from Dr. Oz? He didn't mention coconut oil on this show but he has on previous shows and provided a strong recommendation. Coconut oil can also be used as a cooking oil and in baking. But watch out, coconut oil brings flavor to the table and can take some getting used to. It also packs in the healthy plant form of saturated fat so a little is fantastic but too much could be really too much. has a great article on how to incorporate coconut oil into cooking. In baking, they say it can be used in place of oil and because coconut oil brings some sweetness, it can help to reduce the sugar.

With it's distinct flavor and scent, it's best to start of slow with coconut oil to how you do with it then increase from there.

Coconut Oil by the Numbers:
Monounsaturated: 6%
Polyunsaturated: 2%
Saturated: 92%
Smoke point: 350F

Everything is better with butter, right? A friend tweeted at Thanksgiving that a world where mashed potatoes are made with two sticks of butter is a world I want to live in – not a direct quote, but you get the point. Butter has that wonderful buttery flavor and, in my opinion, it's hard to replicate. Sure there are imitators that say they provide the flavor of butter without the saturated fat but they do so with other unhealthy fats, usually trans, and other artificial ingredients. When you look at the numbers, butter comes in under coconut oil for saturated fat and beats coconut oil with it's monounsaturated fat. Again, a good fat is good in reasonable quantities. Organic and pasture-fed sources of butter are the preferred forms.

Butter by the Numbers:
Monounsaturated: 26%
Polyunsaturated: 4%
Saturated: 63%
Smoke point: 350F

Lard also gets a bad wrap but I've heard many nutritionists recommend it and it can be found in stores today. The key is to find a clean source. Just like butter, organic and pasture-fed sources are preferred and will provide more heart healthy omegas as well. Is lard so bad? No! Look at those numbers. The saturated fat is the lowest of these three solid fats and the monounsaturated fat is the highest of the three.

Lard by the Numbers:
Monounsaturated: 45%
Polyunsaturated: 11%
Saturated: 39%
Smoke point: 350F

Thanks to for the smoke point information. Thanks to for the fat percentages and Wikipedia for the butter and lard percentages.


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1 comment:

  1. EVOO, Extra Virgin Olive Oil has been called that for some time.