Did you know that the type of oil you cook with could increase nutrition while adding flavor to your favorite foods? Swapping out your traditional fats for healthy plant and nut-based options can help you, and your family, make a healthy start to spring. Our guide lists the best oils to cook with, derived from natural and nutritious sources. Read more to find out how you can put a healthier spin on your favorite dishes!
#1 Olive Oil: This tops the chart as the most popular oil, and should always be kept in your pantry as staple. Olive oil can be used for almost anything, in a variety of ways. It’s high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which is excellent for heart health and blood pressure. Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point at 325° F, so it’s best for flavorful salad dressings, dips, or sauces like fresh Basil Pesto. Light olive oil is more refined, which gives it a higher smoke point of 450° F, and is perfect for sautéing veggies and cooking pastas.
#2 Canola Oil: This very neutral and versatile oil is our first runner up to keep in your cupboard at all times. It contains both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which promote healthy cholesterol levels. Canola oil is also low in saturated fat. Its medium-high smoke point is best for baking, oven cooking, stir-frying, roasting, and sautéing.
#3 Coconut Oil: Trendy and tropical, it has fatty acids that can help curb hunger and boost brain function, and it can be used in just about any recipe. Coconut oil has a medium smoke point which works well for sautéing, and in sauces, and can add a subtle sweetness to your recipes. It’s also great for baking (and not just Coconut Cake)! You can use coconut oil as a replacement for butter and to grease baking pans — like butter and lard, coconut oil is solid at room temperature.
#4 Avocado Oil: This oil has one of the highest smoke points, reaching up to 500° F! It can be used for frying, grilling, searing, roasting, browning, and drizzling over veggies or salads. Much like the fruit it comes from, it’s very high in monounsaturated fatty acids. Like olive oil, helps reduce heart disease, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
#5 Flaxseed / Wheat Germ: These seed-based oils are packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can help lower blood pressure. Since they are no heat oils, they are great in salad dressings and dips. Take note that a little goes a long way!
#6 Sunflower Oil: This small yet satisfying seed is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, and makes for a versatile oil. It can be used for frying, searing, grilling, or roasting on high heat, since its smoke point is around 450° F.
#7 Grape Seed Oil: This mild yet sweet tasting oil is formed as a by-product of wine making, and can be used for baking, sautéing, and stir-frying, since its smoke point reaches 400° F. It’s low in cholesterol and is mostly made up of fats that are polyunsaturated, which break down easier in the digestive system.
#8 Peanut Oil: Delicious and nutritious, peanut oil is most often used for frying due to its high smoke point and the nutty aftertaste it brings. However, this flavor can complement many other foods like roasted meats. Don’t forget it’s full of monounsaturated fatty acids.
#9 Walnut Oil: This nutty oil is best for baked goods. You can also use it to make into a marinade for meats or whip up some Walnut Oil Vinaigrette to top a fresh salad. It has both mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and can help with inflammation.
#10 Sesame Oil: This toasted oil is big on flavor, and has a medium-high smoke point of 400° F, making it best for use in dressings, dips, and Asian dishes like Chicken Stir-Fry. Sesame seeds are full of zinc, and are great for your hair and skin.
Just like herbs and spices, you should keep a variety of healthy cooking oils in your pantry to punch up the flavor, and the nutritional value, of your meals. Now let’s get cooking!
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