One type of cooking oil is beneficial for your heart and skin health

As you prepare to whip up your holiday meal, are you paying attention to what kind of cooking oil you're using? Not only could your choice affect you and your guests -- but it could also affect the environment.

We turned to culinary expert and educator Chef Gerard Viverito to learn more before we get going in the kitchen.

Here are three things to consider as you begin:

  • Is the oil GMO? Today, more than 90 percent of soybean, corn and canola (rapeseed) crops come from genetically modified seed. This is a significant increase from just 20 years ago.

  • Does it turn toxic when heated? You might be surprised to learn that both olive oil and coconut oil break down when exposed to high temperatures. They start to smoke and degrade into harmful chemicals, called aldehydes, which may damage essential organs, tissues and cells. Even the fumes from overheating some cooking oils may have serious health consequences.

  • Is it responsibly grown? Some oil crops may be harming Mother Earth. With our booming world's population – now nearly 7.5 billion people – we need a sustainable source of this dietary staple. Some experts point to oil-producing perennials, such as oil palms, olive trees and grape vines, to help feed the world without harming the planet.

If you still feel like you're in the dark, Viverito broke down the pros and cons for the cooking oils now commonly found on store shelves:

For more, watch the video above for five things you should know about buying olive oil.

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