Cooking with oil—instead of lard or butter—is a healthier choice. Why? Plant oils have less saturated fat, are naturally cholesterol-free and often are a great source of antioxidants and vitamin E, which helps fight free radicals linked with premature aging and even cancer.
Before you start cooking with oil, there are two things you should know:
1. Pay attention to smoke point. When you heat an oil to its smoke point (the point at which it literally smokes), the oil breaks down, harmful substances are created and the beneficial compounds of the oil are destroyed. Instead of memorizing the smoke point for each oil, a better rule of thumb is to just heat the oil until it shimmers.
2. Mind your oil quantity. People often use too much oil, and the calories can easily add up. Try to stick to about 2 tablespoons a day—the recommended amount for most adults.
You probably know that extra-virgin olive oil is a super-healthy choice: it’s rich in monounsaturated fats, which promote healthy cholesterol levels, and also polyphenols, compounds that may help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease.