The Smoking Point: When Does Good Become Bad?
What is a polyunsaturated fat, and why is it important? Cooking with healthy oils is all well and good, but when does good become bad? Trust us, it can.
I know we have all heard bad things about fats; how they increase cholesterol, and weaken your body by increasing unnecessary body weight. But the actual truth is, certain oils can be very beneficial to our bodies. Those oils are called polyunsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated simply means that, while saturated fats become solid in greater or lesser degrees at room temperature, the polyunsaturated oil will remain liquid. The reason it is better is that it provides all the needed functions of oils; -energy, hair and skin health, and warmth in the body- without raising the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood and increasing the risk of heart problems and diseases.
That’s not all there is to it. Some polyunsaturated fats are still unhealthy for you, such as canola, sunflower, and corn oil. They contain disproportionate amounts of Omega 6 to Omega 3 acids, which can lead to imbalances and problems related to inflammation, including cancer and heart disease.
Luckily, there are quite a few options for healthy oils, such as olive, coconut, avocado, and palm oils. Their components are balanced and can provide you with a wealth of nutrients, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
So, What Exactly is a Smoking Point? And Why is it Bad?
The smoking point is exactly what it sounds like. It is the point of temperature at which the oil begins to smoke. You’ve seen it happen; someone is making a stir-fry on your stove, or maybe making some grilled cheese, and when you walk into the room, the whole place is hazy because the oil has been smoking.
What happens though, when the oil smokes?
When an oil is heated past the smoking point, it generates toxic fumes and free radicals which are basically destroying your body and brain from the inside. The smoke rising from your yummy cooking pan are actually gaseous vapors from heating, a marker that the oil has started to decompose.
This not only decreases the quality in taste, but also creates cancer-causing compounds that can be inhaled in the fumes.
So if you’ve cooked your olive oil on too high of a temperature, please turn off the stove and keep the vapors out of your lungs! And definitely throw away any food that’s been in contact with the oil; it’s much better to start again than to risk putting these free radicals into your body.
So In Summary….
Make sure you use those Polyunsaturated fats that have balanced levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 acids, like avocado oil, coconut oil, and palm oils. When you cook with it, make sure not to heat it to too high of a temperature or for too long.