We all know, obviously, that steaming, grilling and baking are optimal healthy cooking methods. But what about frying? Can we make it healthier for us? Some believe that it can be done. It is all a matter of what we are cooking, how we cook it and in what.
What Temperature Should You Fry at?
Frying does makes foods carcinogenic, but most cooking methods in general have this effect. It just so happens that frying can increase the harmful effects of this. However, what is not realized is that it depends on how you deep fry. The temperature you fry at can make a big difference. When you fry at a temperature that is too low, the food tends to soak up the oil making it soggy. On the other hand, when you cook it at a temperature to high, it over cooks the outside (higher carcinogens) and does not get cooked on the inside. If you cook it at the right temperature, then you are able to cook the outside fast enough to keep the moisture inside and not soak up the oil. This way the food you are cooking can retain more of its nutrient value and not become grease laden the whole way through.
That said, there are varying ideas on the correct temperature for best frying. Between 350-375 degrees is one theory. Some also say that if you heat the oil to 350 to 375 once the food is introduced, the heat will drop. For the second cooking method after the food is dropped into the oil heated up to 350-375, then keep the oil in the temperature range of 250-325. If your oils smokes, then the temperature is too high.
If you are going to fry, use a deep frying method instead of a pan fry method. The reason for this is that when you pan fry it takes longer, making the oil break down further creating more carcinogens.
What Oil or Fat Should You Use?
Much of what we fear in frying is the fat. Remember that certain fats can be better or worse for us. Now this can vary depending on what your preferences are. Some paleo followers use animal fats such as lard. You can use many different types of animal fats. If you are not big on the saturated animal fats, then you can use grapeseed oil or another high smoke point oil.
Some studies have been done in the Mediterranean on the people who eat fried foods, and it suggested that the oil they use there –olive oil and sunflower oil – may be a good option. There is a lot of conflicting information about whether you should cook or not with olive oil, but it has been shown to have a high smoke point.
Whatever you choose to use, make sure that you chose an oil that has at least a 375 degree smoke point. As a rule of thumb, 400 degrees is best so that you have a higher buffer zone. Do not reuse oil! This is a very common practice for those who fry more regularly, but it has been shown that frying in fresh oil may be less detrimental to your health.
Frying is considered to be a paleo cooking method, which is as long as you do not bread what you are cooking as well. Although, keep in mind that even paleo people will warn against frying food all the time. We may be seeing a better way to fry here, but that does not mean that we should instantly set about frying all of our food. It means that if there is something you would like to fry from time to time that this method will most likely yield you healthier results than you had before.
The conclusion is that frying may not be the healthiest option available to you, but if there are foods that you can not live without that are fried, then have them once in a while but cook it in a way that cooks the inside while not burning the outside. Blot the excess oil off and keep your portions small.