When using oils, most of us have been taught to use those that are healthiest…Olive Oil, Canola Oil and those that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This, obviously, is very important. But, the way the oil is extracted is also important to our health.
Have you ever had olive oil that was really flavorful and tasty…and then, had olive oil somewhere else that seemed light and especially bland? Beyond the fact that there is a difference between “Extra-Virgin Olive Oil” (EVOO) and plain olive oil, (EVOO is more pure than ordinary olive oil) there is another reason for that. Just as we should avoid foods that are highly processed or refined, it is best to avoid oils that are as well. Many oils are extracted from seeds, nuts, plants and vegetables by using a heating process or a chemical process, using the chemical hexane. Heat can degrade the flavor, change the nutritional value and affect the color of oils. While hexane, a petrochemical also used as a paint diluent and solvent may be dangerous to our health. Is a matter of fact, the EPA declared hexane a Hazardous Air Pollutant in 1993, as a result of the fact that it can lead to serious health complications if inhaled.
As a result, it is best to look for oils that are unrefined. They are richer in nutrients, and are more robust and true to their natural flavors.
- Expeller Pressed Oil: Expeller pressed oil is a process that extracts oil from nuts or seeds by crushing them. Depending on the hardness of the seed or nut, various temperatures are required (the harder the nut, the higher the pressure, which directly causes higher temperatures during processing). However, no external heat is applied.
- Cold Expeller Pressed Oil: As its name implies, CEPO uses a chemical-free process to extract oils from nuts or seeds by crushing them at very low heat…no higher than 120° Fahrenheit.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers trick their consumers by first using one of the above processes and then using hexane AFTER the expeller pressing process. When you shop for oils, purchase those that are unrefined, cold-expeller pressed to ensure you are getting the highest quality oil. Natural and Health Food Stores may even carry oils that have a “No Hexane” label on their product, as they know that consumers are becoming more aware.
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