Seriously, why are you trying to make one of the unhealthiest foods, healthy? I’ll tell you why. It’s because french fries are AMAZING! The crunch, the subtle flavor of salt, and maybe even a dash of spicy seasoning. You can’t tell me it’s easy to resist these golden delicacies.
If you’re thinking about your health, I may have a sorta halfway solution for you. So the question is, what’s the healthiest oil for frying french fries?
Determining which oil is best is a matter of knowing which one can take a higher amount of heat, is more packed on a molecular level, and more stable. As a result, the healthiest cooking oil would be coconut oil, avocado oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, or corn oil.
Ultimately, there’s a lot more to it than just blatantly picking out an oil. Looking for the right kind that goes well with your french fries is equally important.
Let’s talk about that.
How does deep-frying work?
Deep frying is when you dip all your food into the really hot oil. Now, the ideal temperature of frying is approximately between 350–375°F (176–190°C).
Now the way it works is that if you submerge food into oil at this temperature, it’s hot enough to quickly cook and for the lack of a better word “crispify” the outer skin of the french fry. The hardened skin of the french fry blocks out any oil from further penetrating the interior. It basically stops oil from being soaked into the french fry like a sponge.
While the outside cooks, the inside boils from the moisture.
It’s important to keep the temperature just right. Any lower than the recommended and you’ll end up with french fries soaked in oil. You’ll end up with greasy fries. If you cook at a temperature that’s too high, then it’ll likely just burn the outsides and dry out the insides.
Which cooking oils are considered “healthy”?
In frying food, there’s really no “healthiest” choice. There’s just the choice between bad and worst. However, I totally understand the notion to pick from the lesser of 2 evils.
So the following is a list of oils that are a really good choice for the health-conscious.
1. Coconut oil
Out of all the different oils to choose from, coconut oil is our number 1 pick.
Coconut oil contains a high amount of saturated fats which makes it highly resistant to heat. In fact, the smoking point of coconut oil is between 350 – 400 °F (177 – 204 °C).
A research study from J Food Science Technology tested a single batch of coconut oil being deep-fried at 365 °F (180 °C) for 8 hours didn’t alter or change the structure of the oil by much. The quality of the oil remained good.
Coconut oil has also been said to encourage fat burning. You see, coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). A study that was specifically focused on MCTs was actually found to increase the way your body burns calories by an extra 5% compared to long-chain triglycerides.
According to a study from J Bacteriol, coconut oil has also many other added benefits such as having antimicrobial effects thanks to being comprised of an abundance of Lauric acid, a substance that can kill harmful pathogens.
It’s also been known to lower your appetite due to a beneficial metabolite produced by converting MCTs into ketones which are currently being studied in treatment for preventing seizures as well as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, it can also help skin, hair, teeth, and raise good cholesterol (HDL).
2. Olive oil
Our next in line would have to be olive oil.
Olive oils perhaps the second of the healthiest fats we know of.
It’s got a smoking point of 390–470 °F (199–243 °C), so comparatively speaking, it’s also heat resistant and highly stable at frying temperatures.
In a study similar to the test run based on continuous use with coconut oil, it took olive oil over 24 hours until it went bad.
3. Avocado oil
Avocado oil has a smoking point of 520°F (270°C). Again, making it very stable and resistant to high heat. It’ll almost certainly survive boiling temperatures for a long period of time.
It’s got a similar composition to that of olive oil and should have the same properties and benefits.
4. Flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids capable of providing DHA and EPA to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help reduce inflammation, help your heart, and protect against memory loss and aging.
In one study, flaxseed oil has been found to block the spread of cancer growth in the lungs of mice. And in some similar findings, they’ve been also been linked to reducing the growth of breast cancer cells.
Cancer research is still ongoing.
5. Palm oil
Palm oil is actually a great choice for deep frying.
The benefits of palm oil include helping against vitamin A deficiency, certain types of cancers, brain disease, blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
6. Peanut oil
Peanut oil has a smoking point of 446°F (230°C).
Unfortunately, this falls into one of the last on our list because of its high contents of polyunsaturated fats.
Now, when you heat polyunsaturated fats for a long time, the oil ends up with increased viscosity and darkening. This is a state of oil being oxidized, a state at which when a chemical reaction occurs that degrades the quality of the cooking oil. It’s something we don’t want.
Why we consider the oil’s smoke point
Now, why do we talk about the smoking point of cooking oil?
The reason for this is because we want to make sure whatever oil we use, doesn’t degrade at the temperature we fry it.
The normal temperature for frying is again between 350–375°F (176–190°C).
Let’s say that if the oil we choose has a lower smoke point. If and when this oil reaches its smoke point, it starts to produce toxic fumes and free radicals which can actually harm you. This is because the oil will start to decompose creating gaseous vapors.
This is basically the temper at which the oil starts to burn.
This ultimately translates into how healthy the cooking oil is for your body.
Don’t ever cook your oil past its smoking point. If you would like to learn more about smoking points, or curious about what the smoking points are for a particular oil you’re using, check out our article here. It’s got a chart of the most common oils and their smoking points.
The bottom line
Picking the healthiest oil basically boils down to several factors, but I would recommend coconut oil to be the best out of the list above.
However, choosing any oil from the list above is a good start to enjoying healthier fries.
With whatever oil you choose to fry your french fries, consider what we’ve learned when it comes to the stability, the smoking point, and the studied health benefits.
What’s the difference between unrefined vs. refined oils?
When a manufacturer makes an oil. They have the option of producing that oil in a purer form. This labels the oil as refined. It helps increase the expiration date and makes it more resistant to smoking.
Most oils you find will be refined.
Are Air Fryer French Fries Healthy?
Absolutely, air frying is perhaps the best method regarding how it benefits your health.
Air fryers can match the crispiness and flavors of traditional deep-frying methods without the need for much oil at all.
What is the most popular oil in fast food?
Interestingly enough, a major study was released showing that in most fast-food restaurants, the most popular oil used is corn oil for cooking french fries.
Corn oil is considered the least healthy when compared to canola, sunflower, and even soybean oil.
This is due to the fact that corn oil contains a high amount of saturated fats and the least amount of alpha-linolenic acid which helps protect the heart.
What type of oil gives french fries the best crispy texture?
If you want to make your fries extra crispy, you’ll want to try the Double-Fry Method.
This method first cooks the fries in oil for 6-8 minutes at a low 325°F, then let it sit to cool for about 15 minutes, then once again into the oil at 375°F for another 2-3 minutes.
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