Guide to 8 healthy oils for cooking

by Angelique Soenarie –
The Arizona Republic

Knowing how to cook with oils can be tough if you don’t know which ones to use for frying, sauteing or flavoring. Using the right oil also can keep you healthier in the long run.

The first step is to smell the oil before you use it, said Janet Little, certified nutritionist for Sprouts Farmers Market, a Phoenix-based produce and specialty grocer.

“You would be amazed at how oil goes rancid, especially if you’re using unrefined oil. It should have a clean smell to it. Always smell oils before you use them,” Little said. She recommends buying oils in small quantities because they last three to six months.

“Just like our cars,” Little said. “We should change and rotate oils, too. It’s a good idea to use a variety in your diet. For example, use flaxseed oil in salad dressing; and for light cooking, use canola oil. Explore and mix up your oils because they have different benefits.”

Here are eight types of healthful oils.
Olive oil

Pro: Contains monounsaturated fatty acids that help avert heart disease.

Con: Although it’s healthier than butter, olive oil is high in calories and should be used in moderation.

How to use: Don’t cook with extra-virgin oil because it is fragrant and has a lower smoke point. It’s best used to season dishes and in salad dressings.

Refined olive oil has a medium smoke point, up to 325 degrees, and can be used for baking, light sauteing and in sauces.
Grape-seed oil

Pro: This oil has high levels of antioxidants and essential polyunsaturated fat that help prevent heart disease and lower blood pressure.

Con: Tends to have a bland taste. Diets high in polyunsaturated fats can hinder the work of other good fats.

How to use: Use grape-seed oil for stir-fry dishes and baking. It has a smoke point of up to 425 degrees.
Almond oil

Pro: A monounsaturated fat, it contains omega-6 fatty acids and is heart-healthy. It’s also rich in vitamin E and is used widely in beauty products.

Con: Monitor your consumption of omega-6 fats, which are plentiful from many other sources.

How to use: Almond oil has a high heat point, up to 495 degrees, which means you can use it to stir-fry.
Flaxseed oil

Pro: This oil has a nutty flavor and pairs well with balsamic vinegar. It’s not so thick as other oils. It contains a healthy fat that helps burn body fat.

Con: It’s not used for cooking.

How to use: In salad dressings or a tablespoon in protein shakes.
Safflower oil, refined

Pro: The oil has a neutral flavor. It’s a good monounsaturated fat but is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which most Americans get plenty of from other sources. If you buy an unrefined safflower oil, use it in the last minutes of cooking.

Con: Most oils are fats, so too much is unhealthy.

How to use: This is good for medium to high temperatures, up to 445-degree heat, which can be used for stir-fry dishes and baking.
Coconut oil, refined

Pro: This oil is saturated fat, but it’s free of cholesterol and trans fat. It can boost metabolism. It’s good for hair and skin and is used in cosmetic products.

Con: Most oils are fats, so too much is unhealthy.

How to use: Coconut oil is good for medium to high cooking. Use it for chicken, pancakes and in smoothies.
Avocado oil, refined

Pro: It contains a healthy monounsaturated fat, high levels of vitamin E and a bevy of minerals that serve as antioxidants and help keep red blood cells healthy.

Con: Refined oil has less flavor; use unrefined avocado oil if you’re looking to enhance the flavor of a dish.

How to use: It can be used for all-purpose cooking, such as frying or with pasta. It has a high smoke point, up to 510 degrees.

Pro: It has more essential fatty acids than olive oil. If you don’t want flavorful oil in your dish, this oil will do.

Con: Most canola oil is produced from genetically modified plants, which still are being researched.

How to use: It has a medium to high smoke point, up to 460 degrees, and can be used for all cooking purposes.

Posted on October 31, 2011 at 12:04 am by rebrapp · Permalink
In: General Topics