Americans tend to love their fried food. It’s delicious, it’s iconic, and it makes some of your favorite foods even more delicious, as anyone who’s been to a State Fair can attest. But for those with health concerns, deep fried foods may not be on the menu. The question is, should they be?
Although the concept of “healthy deep frying” may be a bit of a stretch, there are ways to make this process a whole lot healthier. Cooking with peanut oil, for example, is an excellent option for making fried food a bit more health-conscious. Not only can peanut oil safely be stored for six months to one year, providing it’s capped tightly and stored away from heat and light, but it also provides a host of benefits that you might not have been aware of.
Health Benefits of Cooking with Peanut Oil
First, when you use peanut oil for frying and other cooking methods, you’re adding “good” fats into your diet. Instead of containing saturated fat, refined and organic peanut oils contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Vegetable oils, along with foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and seafood, are a great way for your body to benefit from these fats. In other words, cooking with peanut oil shouldn’t produce the same level of health guilt you might experience when eating foods cooked in animal fat. Studies have actually found that subjects on a moderate fat diet that included peanut oil actually lost weight. While you certainly shouldn’t deep fry everything on your plate at every meal, there isn’t that much of a nutritional difference in terms of fat content when you deep fry, say, a turkey instead of roasting it.
There are also heart benefits that accompany cooking with peanut oil. Those unsaturated fats we mentioned above? Those are the kind of fats you need to improve your cholesterol and overall heart health. People who maintain a diet that gets half its fat from peanut oil have been found to improve their cholesterol levels. Peanut oil actually provides similar heart health benefits to olive oil. In fact, it’s even better in some ways. A study conducted at SUNY Buffalo found that peanut oil contains more phytosterols than olive oil, making it a great choice for heart health. Phylosterols also have been found to protect against cancer and tumor growth. Finally, peanut oil is also a good source of vitamin E, adding to its overall health benefits.
If you have a peanut allergy, you might assume that you can’t take advantage of all the peanut oil uses in your own diet. But highly refined peanut oil does not contain peanut allergens. That means you can safely enjoy food products cooked in refined peanut oil without worrying about a reaction, even if you are severely allergic.
Although deep fried foods shouldn’t be an everyday staple, it’s important to understand that foods fried in peanut oil can be a part of a healthy diet.
Practical Benefits of Peanut Oil
We outlined a number of potential health benefits of peanut oil in the section above. However, whether you prefer cooking with organic peanut oil or some other type of oil, you should know that there are actually a number of practical benefits to cooking with peanut oil as well. For amateur foodies and full-time chefs who are looking for a healthier way to enjoy deep fried foods, here are two more benefits of this versatile material.
Peanut oil actually has a higher flash point than many other common cooking oils. Peanut oil’s flash point is about 600 degrees fahrenheit (315 C), and its smoke point is also unusually high. In fact, these properties are what make peanut oil the safest option for deep frying turkeys.
Second, peanut oil can be reused more often than your typical cooking oil, which means you can get more uses out of it. This means its a safe, heart healthy, and sustainable cooking oil.
- “Peanut Oil Health Benefits” – The Peanut Institute
- “Approaches to Establish Thresholds for Major Food Allergens and for Gluten in Food,” March 2006, U.S. Food and Drug Administration