I'm in a debate with a coworker about why cooking with butter (ghee) is better than vegetable oil. Now I know that coconut oil is good and olive oil is good for salad but can you guys shed light on why or if butter is better than most oils?
Butter is very low in polyunsaturated fats, also known as Pufa. There are really two main types of pufa in our diets, omega 3's and omega 6's (linoleic acid). O6's in excess cause inflammation by signalling inflammatory eicosanoids, can promote cancer, can interfere with leptin and other important hormones, and are generally bad. Pufas are also highly unstable, especially when compared to saturated and monounsaturated fats, which can cause oxidative stress in the body. Considering that oxidized LDL likely causes heart disease, this is very undesirable. Vegetable oils have tons of O6, olive oil has some but is fine in moderation and when not cooked, and butter has very little.
I'd recommend you read Kurt Harris' post that discusses this topic much better than I could and in much more depth than my cliffs notes version here.
While you're at it, I'd highly recommend you read the rest of his blog too. It is superb.
In addition to what mari said, which is all correct. When actually cooking with "fats" to use the generic term, you have to look at what heat does to them. Saturated fat is very heat stable, all it does is melt. It doesn't go through any chemical reactions. Polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils) are very heat unstable. When heated they will oxidize and become free radicals which is bad! That's why you can keep things like coconut oil out on your counter but you have to refrigerate vegetable oils (and fish oil!).
Since butter, ghee, coconut oil are all mostly saturated they are great to cook with. Vegetable oils should never be used in cooking because of how unstable they are.
Just wanted to share how much I enjoy and appreciate this list and the members -- I have never been a part of a more knowledgeable and collegial online forum! I'm amazed on a regular basis at the quality of information that is provided, and the level of knowledge that so many members have.
I'm sure there are others here who could give a much better reason as to the why of all this, but I find tallow and lard to be superior to butter for cooking. Butter still has milk solids that tend to burn at moderate to high temps.
We use primarily Coconut oil because of the added nutritional content. It's one of the few oils that can be cooked at a very high heat and still retain it's nutrition and is one of the safest and best oils to use.
"benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc."