Apart from that little blip earlier this year where we all started questioning whether it’s actually bad for us, coconut oil has been the MVP for as long we can remember. We cook with it, we put it in our hair, we eat it by the spoonful. Heck, we even use it to whiten our teeth! But it looks like a surprising new contender may be about to giving coconut oil a run for its money—at least in the cooking stakes. Introducing, the newest superfood making waves in the health world: algae oil.
Yep, algae as in the seaweed you find floating in ponds or in the ocean. We know, it’s not exactly something you’re in any rush to put in your mouth! But here’s the thing: in oil form, it doesn’t actually come from any body of water. Instead, the manufacturers, US company Thrive, use algae that’s grown in a fermenter—kind of like how you’d make beer or kombucha.
Inside the tanks, the algae feeds on sugar before being pressed through an expeller a few days later to release the oil. Once refined, the oil is said to have a light, nutty taste that’s neutral enough to be used in cooking or as a salad dressing. In other words, it’s a lot more palatable than a blue algae latte (sorry, we tried to like them!)
Okay, so that’s all well and good. But why should we abandon our perfectly fine olive or coconut oil in favour of glorified seaweed? Well, according to the experts, it’s extremely high in monounsaturated fats. These are the good kind that help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and ward off heart disease. Thrive claims one tablespoon of its oil has the same amount of monounsaturated fat as an avocado, and 25% more monounsaturated fat than olive oil. At the same time, it contains way less saturated fat (the bad kind) than coconut oil—weighing in at around 4%, compared to 87%.
Algae oil also has a much higher smoke point than most other types of cooking oils. It has a burning point of around 250 degrees Celsius, compared to olive oil at 190. This means you can cook it at a much higher temperature (ie. to get your chicken or fish nice and crispy) without burning it or setting off the smoke alarm.
If that doesn’t sell you, algae oil also happens to be one of the most sustainable types of oil. It has a lower carbon and water footprint than other oils like coconut, olive, or canola and the algae that’s left over from the extraction process is used for renewable energy. So, not only is it good for your health, it’s good for the environment!
So far, Thrive seem to be the only company to have jumped on the algae oil bandwagon. We have a feeling we’re going to start seeing it in health stores everywhere in the near future. But in the meantime you can get your hands on some here.