I have long been a fan of non-stick oil cooking sprays because they allow you to use a fraction of the anount of oil you would normally use, even when you are attempting to be very sparse. If what you want is the absolute mininum amount of oil required to get the job done, nothing will accomplish this more effectvely that one quick shot of cooking spray.
When I started eating clean and adopted the habit of always checking ingredients labels, and as I somewhat suspected, I discovered that my tried and true cooking sprays contained problematic ingredients: Propellants, soy bean oil and soy lecithin.
Soy lecithin is a commonly used food additive in many packaged and processed foods such as baked goods, pasta, bread, ice cream, chocolate, margarine, dressings and creams. It functions as a preservative and emulsifier, meaning it keeps oil and water from separating, solidifies liquids, delays rancidity, reduces spattering in a frying pan and keeps dough from sticking, which leads to fluffier baked goods.
Soy lecithin is a by-product/ waste product produced in the production and refining of soybean oil, which is extracted from soybeans. Critics claim that consumption of soy lecithin and soybean oil is harmful to our health and likely contains varying amounts of pesticides and solvents leftover from the growing and refining of soybeans. Approximately 93% of the soybean crop in the US is genetically modified (GMO). It’s best to avoid foods containing both soybean oil and soy lecithin because of the processing and genetic modification it undergoes.
However, because it is present in such small amounts, it’s unlikely to be harmful if you are exposed to it in cooking spray, so it depends of how close to the letter of the law you intend to be.
The occasional little cheat here or there is not going to hurt you. On balance, if you are eating clean 95% of the time, you are going to be reaping a lot of benefit. However, the trouble is that one little cheat can easily lead to another. Then it can beco-s a slippery slop and its easy to lose track of just how much of this you are doing. Before you know it you can be half way off the wagon and not even really be aware of how far you’ve fallen.
Some cooking sprays also contain Dimethyl silicone, an anti-foaming agent. It is also used as a textile finishing agent, paint additive, and an ingredient in cosmetics. The health implications of ingesting dimethyl silicone have not been extensively researched and therefore are not well understood. Its a chemical and therefore it is best to avoid.
The propellants in conventional cooking sprays are chemicals used to drive the fluid out of the can. Although most cooking sprays list “propellant” on the ingredient list, they typically fail to mention which propellant is used. Nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, propane, n-butane and isobutane are all common aerosol propellants. Best to stay away. Plus there may benegative environmental effects from the propellants in these cooking sprays. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), the propellants previously used in aerosols, have been found to deplete the ozone layer. Now, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are used instead, but not without environmental impact. Environmental hazards linked to HFCs include global warming, flammability hazard, adverse effect of exposure, and ecotoxicity (having an adverse effect on the environment and the organisms living in it).
But there is good news for all of you, who like myself, love cooking sprays for their ability to greatly reduce the amount of fat we are adding to our food. You can actually make your own with just pure oil.