Learn the health benefits of each cooking oil and when to use them.
While perusing the aisles at the grocery store, you may be overcome by the many options in the cooking oil section. The plethora of options can be confusing – which one should you use for each recipe? Let's explore cooking oils, from the common to the harder-to-find.
- Olive oil. It is well known that olive oil is made up of fatty acids that are beneficial to health. Monounsaturated fatty acids help raise good cholesterol and contribute to heart health. Olive oil can be used for all-purpose cooking as well as baking.
- Avocado oil. Avocado oil has many of the same benefits as olive oil, given its 70% content of monounsaturated fatty acids. It has a very high smoke point, making it useful when searing, frying, roasting, grilling, or other high-heat cooking methods. It has a rich, creamy flavor like the avocado itself – making it a great choice for salad dressings.
- Coconut oil. Coconut oil has been popular for the past several years and there are a variety of health claims associated with it. It is made of mostly saturated fatty acids like those found in butter, however the saturated fats in coconut oil do not raise "bad cholesterol" as much as those in butter. Use coconut oil for sautéing and baking – it has a mild, coconut flavor.
- Canola oil. Canola oil is another great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Its smoke point is slightly lower than that of olive oil, making it a great choice for pan-frying and baking. It has a very mild flavor, so can be used in a variety of recipes.
- Grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is an excellent source of vitamin E and provides 25% of the recommended daily requirement in just one teaspoon. Use for sautéing, frying, baking, and salad dressings.
- Flax oil. Flax oil has a very low smoke point of just 225. This makes it best used in salad dressings or drizzled over cold food, so it retains its health benefits. Add to smoothies for a boost of omega-3 fatty acids.
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