Walking through the cooking oil aisle of the supermarket can feel like visiting an exotic marketplace. There are so many to choose from: peanut oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and many others. What are the best and worst cooking oils?
The Best (and My Favorites)
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is at the top of every nutritionist’s and doctor’s shopping list. EVOO is packed with healthy fats and antioxidants that protect your heart. It’s rich in a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which reduces inflammation and lowers your risk of chronic diseases.
I love using olive for Italian and Mediterranean dishes because of its deep flavor. EVOO is also delicious as is. Use it to make homemade salad dressing or sprinkle some on top of pizza (with fresh basil) for an aromatic, nutritious treat.
2. Avocado Oil
Another nutrient superstar, avocado oil gives you a ton of vitamin E and a range of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. It’s like putting an avocado slice on your toast in the morning. Once you’ve tasted it, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. Avocado oil has a creamy texture that’s irresistible.
It’s excellent for stir-frying, sautéing and searing because it can stand up to high temperatures without problems. The only downside? It can be expensive.
3. Canola Oil
Canola oil is low in saturated fats, which is good for your body. On the other hand, it doesn’t have many nutrients, so it’s not as healthy as EVOO or avocado oil.
The mild flavor of canola oil complements any cuisine, from meat and potatoes to curry chicken. Personally, this is my go-to cooking oil, because it’s relatively inexpensive and really versatile.
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Excellent in Moderation
4. Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is tasty. It lowers bad cholesterol, has vitamin E and may help you control blood sugar levels. The reason I put it in the “with moderation” category is that it can contribute to inflammation if you eat too much.
That’s not usually a problem, though, because most people don’t want every meal to taste like peanuts. Try peanut oil with Chinese, Thai or Indian food. The pop of nutty flavor is incredible.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has become popular as a way to boost your body’s fat burning abilities. It has a type of fat called MCT, which turns into energy instead of getting stored as belly fat. A spoonful of coconut oil can work wonders for kickstarting the metabolism in the morning.
Coconut oil has a high smoke point, so it also makes stir-frying and sautéing easy. The slightly sweet taste enhances the flavor of any recipe.
6. Vegetable Oil
If you see vegetable oil at the store, keep on walking. This oil usually contains a blend of several oils, such as sunflower, canola, soy and others. But because it’s so highly processed, it doesn’t have any healthy nutrients. Manufacturers often use a small amount of normally healthy oils such as sunflower to hide cheaper oils (palm or corn oil) that contribute to higher cholesterol.
The Bottom Line
Don’t fall for the trick of mixed vegetable oils. Fresh, organic, nutritious oils are always better for your health. Cold-pressed options cost more, but they often have a higher amount of antioxidants and vitamins.
Also, think outside the box with recipes. Oils aren’t just for frying! Use them to give flavor and nutrition to every meal.