When it comes to cooking oils, there are so many varieties to choose from. However, some of these oils are not as healthy as they appear. Some contain saturated and trans fats which are unhealthy. The healthy fats contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are good for your heart. The commonly used oil is the olive oil, but there are other different oils which have different qualities that make them better for different uses. Some oils are definitely best for baking, frying and others are best for salad dressing. Although some oils are classified as health, it doesn’t mean you use them in excess as if they were calories free. All oils contain a certain amount of calories thus it’s good you use oils in moderation. Below is a list of healthiest oils for your cooking.
Canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fat and can be used for roasting, frying, and baking. It’s high in monounsaturated fat which forms about 62% of the fat and also it’s made up of 32% of polyunsaturated fat. Additionally, it’s among the few oils that contain a good plant-based source of omega-3 fats. Canola oil helps lower total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol which reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s excellent for frying since it has a high smoke point (400 degrees F) and neutral flavor.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Pure Olive Oil
Extra virgin oil is cold pressed from the first olive pressing thus obtaining an oil that is less processed, has more flavor and a fruity aroma. Olive oil is a very popular oil worldwide. Extra virgin oils are more expensive than the refined version of it called pure olive oil. The pure olive oil is lighter in color and milder in flavor too. Generally, olive oil is heart-healthy monounsaturated oil and is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols which promotes bone growth. Also, olive oil is rich in vitamin K and reduces the risk of cancer. Extra virgin oil is a good replacement for butter and salad dressing. In case you are frying, use pure olive oil since it has a higher smoke point of 465 degrees F.
Avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, potassium, and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. It helps promote healthy cholesterol levels and enhance absorption of nutrients. It’s preferably used for sautéing and baking purposes. Avocado oil has a neutral flavor without being chemically processed like canola and vegetable oil. It has a high smoke point hence one of the best oils for high-temperature cooking.
Safflower oil is low in saturated fat, has high levels of omega-9 fatty acids, has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. Also, safflower oil fights inflammation, soothes dry skin and lowers cholesterol thus boosting heart health. Due to the high smoke point of 510-degrees F, it’s listed as one of the safe oil for frying. You can obtain safflower oil through processing or cold pressing. However, it’s not recommended for salad dressing.
A staple in Asian and Indian cooking, sesame oil is becoming more popularized in the U.S. It’s a mixture of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, making it a heart-healthy cooking oil. Sesame oil is highly flavored and if you have a peanut allergy, it’s a great alternative. It is available in refined and unrefined forms and can be obtained through pressing or chemical oil extraction. Sesame oil fights against harmful compounds and is high in antioxidants. The unrefined version is good for frying since it has a smoke point of 410 degrees F.
Almond oil is obtained through pressing of the oil from ground almonds. It increases good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol. Additionally, it supports immune functioning, liver health, reduces colon cancer and eases irritable bowel syndrome. It has a mildly sweet flavor and it’s available in refined and unrefined forms. The refined form has a smoke point of 420 degrees F making it the best for stir-frying, roasting and grilling. The unrefined almond oil can be used for salad dressing, and to drizzle on cooked dishes.
The Bottom Line
Before choosing the type of oil you are going to buy, it’s important you assess the needs for your recipe. When frying, you need oil with neutral flavor and high smoke point. If it’s a baking oil, choose neutral oil. For searing and sautéing, it’s best you opt for more flavorful oil with a lower smoke point. Lastly, in the case of dressing, the flavorful oil is always the best. In addition to that, the kind of oil you choose should be healthy to avoid health issues.
All images via Pixabay