For quite some time, Ingles Markets has used canola oil to deep-fry our doughnuts. We have chosen to use canola oil instead of hydrogenated vegetable oil to reduce the amount of trans-fat and saturated fat in our bakery products, but still have an oil that works well for frying.
Trans-fat and saturated fat may increase cholesterol levels and can increase the risk for heart disease. Monounsaturated fats like canola oil, olive oil, avocados, and nut butter may help lower cholesterol levels and the reduce risk for heart disease. Canola oil is a monounsaturated fat (6% saturated). Meanwhile, coconut oil (90% saturated), palm oil (48% saturated), beef tallow (37% saturated), butter (61% saturated), and lard (40% saturated) are higher in saturated fat compared to canola oil. Also, Ingles does not use hydrogenated fat/oil in our cake frostings or other products.
Another important thing that we have to consider is that all oils do not work equally well for frying. This is certainly the case with both butter and coconut oil due to the low smoke point – 350 degrees ( the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke) which would be problematic for us for taste as well as safety.
As far as frying a a doughnut in beef tallow (beef fat) — while it does have a similar smoke point as canola oil, we are not aware of any operation that does this as it would certainly give a meaty ( and undesirable) flavor to the doughnuts.
Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN
Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian