Did you know that bottle of olive oil you have in the cupboard has a history that goes all the way back to 3000 B.C.? Cooking oil, the staple of home fried foods, is a subject full of surprising facts and interesting tidbits that will make you look at the innocent looking bottle in a completely different way. Here are some of the most surprising facts about cooking oil you never knew.
Flavorful Peanut Oil
Most widely used in Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine, cooks choose peanut oil because of its flavor enhancing abilities. In the United States, in a tradition that started in the South, peanut oil is the preferred oil when it comes to deep frying turkeys at Thanksgiving dinners, 4th of July picnics and tailgating parties. If you’re worried about the nutritional value of peanut oil, worry no more. Researchers at Penn State University found that eating moderate levels of food made with peanut oil improved total cholesterol levels in an amount equal to that of olive oil. The American Heart Association considers peanut oil one of the better fats. Peanut oil contains resveratrol, an antioxidant, which reduces the likelihood of developing some types of cancer and decreases blood pressure. Peanut oil is also used to make soap, massage oil and fuel.
Delightful Cottonseed Oil
Café du Monde’s world famous beignets just wouldn’t be the same without cottonseed oil. Cottonseed oil’s neutral flavor and high smoke point make it the ideal choice for many fried foods. Called America’s Oil because of its long history of use in the United States, cottonseed oil is rich in vitamin E, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Did you know that Procter & Gamble first made crystallized cottonseed oil in 1911? You might recognize it by its famous brand name, Crisco®.
There’s Nothing Crude About Corn Oil
Another old standby, corn oil is great for frying foods and is found in salad dressings and shortenings. It’s high in vitamin E, antioxidants and omega-6 fatty acids, has a neutral flavor and high smoke point. Corn oil has been a favorite with chefs from its introduction in 1889 to the kitchens of today. The phytosterols in corn oil reduce cholesterol by inhibiting absorption. It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure.
Exotic Palm Oil
A product of Africa, palm oil has been used for centuries. Palm oil is, in fact, the most widely used oil around the world. Ancient Egyptians used palm oil for cooking and archaeologists recently discovered palm oil residue in a tomb that was over 5,000 years old. Malaysia is one of the largest palm oil producers today. Palm oil’s mild and savory flavor makes it a favorite for enhancing the flavor of food. Health benefits include a high beta-carotene content, which maintains healthy skin and supports eye health. Palm oil is also used in paper and personal care products.