Vegetable oils, sources of essential fatty acids

Indispensable to our daily lives, vegetable oils are good allies in the kitchen.

Extracted from the seeds and fruits of oleaginous plants, the oils contain many vitamins and fatty acids which are essential sources of energy and balance for the body. Here is a brief overview of these majestic oils with great virtues.

The different fatty acids

A fatty acid is a family of lipid molecules, divided into three categories:

  • the polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • the monounsaturated fatty acids
  • the saturated fatty acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids contain omega 3 and omega 6. They are present throughout the body and provide many physiological functions.

Monounsaturated fatty acids contain omega 9 and are considered as “good fats”, unsaturated fats having beneficial effects on the body. 

Saturated fatty acids, on the other hand, are found mainly in fats of animal origin. They are also found in some tropical vegetable oils such as palm oil and in food products made from these fat sources. They have a bad reputation because of their impact on the environment and health.

Sources of Omega

The best sources of omega 3 are found in rapeseed, flax, hemp, camelina and walnut oil. These fragile oils should not be heated if we want to preserve these fatty acids. They are therefore to be preferred for seasonings.

The main sources of omega 6 fatty acids are corn, soybean, sesame and sunflower oils. These oils have poor resistance to high temperatures and are reserved for cooking in the oven. It will then be necessary to make sure not to reach the “smoke point”, a critical temperature above which the oil loses all of its natural components.

Omega 9 acids will be found in the essential olive oil, in sesame and rapeseed oil, as well as in avocado, nuts and seeds.

How to use oils in cooking?

Oils have all their particularities and are therefore important to consider in our culinary preparations. In seasoning, in cooking, in marinade… in savoury or sweet recipes… the possibilities are varied.

For the cooking of food, mainly neutral oils should be used. Usually olive or sunflower oil is used. For the seasoning, it is advisable to use more marked oils, trying to favour as much as possible the omega-3-6-9 balance.

From the moment they are bottled, the oils can be kept for about eighteen months in a dry and dark place. More fragile oils can be stored in the refrigerator for a shorter period of time.

The quality of the oils

The entire Western population consumes too much omega 6 compared to omega 3. It is therefore necessary to find the right balance by varying the consumption of these oils.

Preferably prefer oils from organic farming, the quality of the oil being much more important than the quantity used. 

In organic stores, we find in particular the most well-known brands such as Emile Noël, Vigean, Bioplanète or Quintesens. Depending on the store, you will find different brands. It’s up to you to find the ones that suit you, to try them out and gradually integrate them into your daily life.

There would be a lot more to say about vegetable oils, they are so numerous and rich in benefits. Each oil is the result of a story, and it willingly reveals its secrets to us when we take a closer look. 

Translated by Malvika Kathpal

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