Do This When Ordering At A Restaurant To Avoid Unhealthy Cooking Oils

Whether you're dining at a favorite restaurant with friends or enjoying the unique flavors of a new establishment, eating out can be a deeply nourishing experience. One aspect of restaurant dining that can prove trickier, however, is knowing what exactly you're consuming; after all, menus don't often list each and every ingredient (cooking oils included) in a dish. 

However, it is possible to enjoy your favorite restaurant without sacrificing a healthy eating plan: When Mark Sisson, founder of Primal Kitchen and author of the Two Meals a Day Cookbook joined us on the mindbodygreen podcast, he shared a simple hack to make dining out healthier. Below, find his tip to avoid unhealthy cooking oils.

How to avoid unhealthy cooking oils at restaurants.

Sisson explains that, oftentimes, certain cooking oils can sabotage a seemingly healthy meal: "Seed oils happen more often than not in most restaurants," he explains. A restaurant may use the best cut of grass-fed beef, the best wild-caught fish, or the best organic produce they can find, "and then they screw it all up by making dressings with soybean oil or cooking it in some old, rancidified industrial seed oil," he notes.

See, the problem with seed oils like canola and sunflower is that they're highly processed and contain high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. As they're processed, these fats lose their antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Once we consume them, they're stored in body fat, which may affect the inflammatory response.

Sisson's simple solution? "Have a conversation with the waiter," he says. "Ask for the chef to come and just say, 'I'm on a keto diet. I have an aversion to soybean, canola, or corn oil. What can you make in extra-virgin olive oil? Could you make a steak in butter?' There are so many workarounds when you dine out." So go ahead and ask—the worst they could say is no!

When it comes to salad dressings, Sisson recommends asking for alternatives like extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar. And for other kinds of sauces, he'll opt for some melted butter to nail a rich flavor. "I'm a seafood lover. If I have a crab cocktail or shrimp cocktail, just bring me melted butter [as a sauce]. I would consider that an ideal meal as a guy from a lobster fishing village in Maine," he shares.

Fats like butter and cold-pressed, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil are less processed than many of the other conventional cooking oils. This means that they're exposed to less heat and, thus, don't lose their antioxidants and minerals. The key is to look for varieties that are as natural and minimally processed as possible, if you can. 

According to Sisson, making a restaurant meal healthier simply comes down to asking for substitutes like extra-virgin olive oil, butter, and vinegar. These less-processed alternatives offer greater nutritional benefits than many of the others that restaurants may rely on. For more of Sisson's healthy eating tips, make sure to tune in to the full episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or check out the video below!