There is a brand new oil on the market that’s taking the health-world by storm.
You may be surprised to learn that this oil is derived from an unexpected plant source – algae.
What Is Algae Cooking Oil?
More specifically, algae oil is made from microalgae. The main reason why algae oil is getting so much attention is its fatty-acid composition. It boasts an extremely low saturated fat content while simultaneously having a high monounsaturated fat (MUFA’S ) content. You may have learned that these fats are considered “bad” and “good” respectively.
How Is Algae Oil Made?
The process of producing algae oil also happens to be much gentler on the environment, which offers an additional perk. The algae is grown in a pure, controlled environment using the same type of fermenters that wine, beer, and vitamins are made in. It’s fed plant sugars, and makes oil in just a few days. The algae is then expeller pressed to release the oil, using the same methods used to make coconut and seed oils. The oil is then refined and bottled, while the leftover algae is used for renewable energy and more. That means there’s no waste.
Does Algae Oil Taste Good?
In terms of appearance and taste, the oil has a yellowish tint like olive oil, and a clean, neutral, slightly lemony flavor, making it perfect for everything from baking to stir-fries.1
Is Algae Oil Healthier Than Olive & Coconut Oil?
Currently, the two healthiest (aside from algae oil) and most popular oils on grocery shelves are coconut and olive oil. So how does algae oil measure up against coconut and olive oil? Let’s compare their smoke points and their fatty acid composition.
Smoking Point: Olive vs. Coconut vs. Algae Oil
An oil’s smoke point refers to the temperature at which an oil burns, thereby inducing free-radical production. You want to avoid burning oils because free radicals can be harmful to the body. Having excess free radicals and oxidants can lead to oxidative stress, which is associated with chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, and cancer.2 So use your oils appropriately!
|Type of Oil
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil
|Drizzling, Dressings, Low-heat Cooking
|Baking, Medium-heat Sautéing
|Dressings, Baking, Stir Frying, Sautéing, Searing, Frying
Algae oil has the highest smoke point, which makes it an incredibly versatile oil. It can be used for everything from dressings to baking, sautéing, and high-heat frying. And it’s light taste means it won’t overpower the other flavors of your food.
Fat Content: Olive vs. Coconut vs. Algae Oil
Extra virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil have been holding the titles as the healthiest oils for a long time now. How does algae oil measure up? Let’s compare the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and saturated fatty acid content of these three oils.
MUFA’s have been recognized by multiple research studies for their health-promoting benefits. Diets high in this healthy type of fat are associated with lower prevalence of chronic diseases. Additionally, MUFA’s have been found to promote healthy blood lipid profiles, mediate blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and regulate blood sugar levels, as well as improve body composition and decrease risk of obesity.3
The effect of saturated fats on health is more controversial, because certain types of saturated fats are actually associated with improved health markers.4 For example, the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are associated with decreased body weight and improved body composition.5 That being said, the jury is still out on whether saturated fats are bad or good.
|Type of Oil
|11.8 grams/tbsp. (mostly MCT’s)
Algae oil trumps both olive and coconut oil for the highest healthy fat content. It is terrifically high in MUFA’S (13 grams/tbsp) and low in saturated fats (0.5 grams/tbsp), thus taking the lead in the healthier fat ratio.6 Thanks to algae oil, you can easily incorporate these MUFA’S into your daily diet. What’s impressive is that just 1 tbsp of algae oil has as much MUFA’s as an entire avocado!7
Experts in nutrition recommend that approximately 20% of your calories come from MUFAs each day (based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that amounts to about 50 grams per day), yet, most people are getting only half of that daily. Therefore, the growing market of algae oil has the potential to make a real change on our nutritional statistics.8
Although algae cooking oil is still relatively new on the nutrition scene, you should definitely consider adding it to your kitchen. You can buy it in select markets. This oil could make some major changes due to its benefits to both human health and the health of our environment. This doesn’t mean you have to give up olive oil or coconut oil. Instead, add algae oil into your cooking repertoire for variety, and especially for high-heat cooking.