Healthy Cooking: All About Cooking Oils

Olive oil is full of antioxidants that reduce your risk of heart disease.

Olive Oil

Best all-around award goes to olive oil. You can use it for almost any kind of cooking without breaking it down. The healthiest type is extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). It can help lower your blood pressure and fight inflammation. It lowers your risk of heart disease by improving the health of your blood vessels and preventing blood clots. EVOO is also loaded with antioxidants, which ward off cell damage.

MCT oil may help curb your appetite.

MCT Oil

Short for medium-chain triglycerides (a type of fat), you can add it to smoothies and salad dressings for a healthy fat boost. Studies show it might help you eat less, but more research is needed.

Avocado oil boosts antioxidant intake and helps curb inflammation.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is good cold (in salads, dips, or smoothies) and hot (grilling, baking) food prep. It's high in oleic acid, a fatty acid with a lot of health benefits. And when you eat it with veggies, it can boost the amount of antioxidants you take in. It can head off inflammation and calm symptoms of arthritis. And it may keep you from getting gum disease.

Beneficial oils in flaxseeds may be beneficial for the heart and blood vessels.

Flaxseed Oil

Though its smoke point (the temperature at which it starts to smoke) is too low for cooking, flaxseed oil is a smart choice for salads, dips, and smoothies. It helps bump up your omega-3's. The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in flaxseed oil is good if you have heart disease, and it may even lower blood pressure.

Canola oil may help lower the about of cholesterol your body absorbs while supplying healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Canola Oil

It's low in saturated fat but high in monosaturated fat (like olive oil). And it has phytosterols, which can help lower the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs. It's also a good source of omega 3's, another heart-friendly benefit.

Almond oil is good for cooking at high heat and it has a pleasant nutty flavor.

Almond Oil

It's high in monosaturated fat and vitamin E. Refined almond oil has a high smoke point, so it's good for high-heat cooking such as searing and browning. Unrefined almond oil has a nutty taste and is best as a salad dressing or drizzled over pasta.

Walnut oil makes a tasty addition to salad dressings and sauces and it's good for your heart and skin.

Walnut Oil

You shouldn't use it for high-heat dishes, but the nutty flavor of walnut oil makes it a tasty choice for drizzling over veggies or in a vinegar dressing or sauce. It has a lot of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps your heart and skin.

Coconut oil is high in saturated fats that are not good for your heart.

Coconut Oil

It's not as healthy as you might think. Coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, which raises LDL cholesterol. That's bad for your heart. And it has almost no vitamins and minerals. It's best to stick with unsaturated fats like olive and canola.

Cold-pressed peanut oil is high in nutrients and is a good choice for high-heat cooking.

Peanut Oil

If you decide to cook with peanut oil, go for the cold-pressed version over refined. Cold-pressed keeps more of the nutrients, such as vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect your heart. Peanut oil also has a very high smoke point. That's why it's a popular choice for high-heat cooking.

Non-stick cooking spray may contain harmful ingredients.

Non-Stick Spray

Many cooking oil sprays come with more than just oil. Check the ingredients for artificial flavorings, antifoam agents, and propellants like propane. You can also fill a reusable pump canister with the oil of your choice.

Oils are good for sauteing, grilling, stir-frying, roasting, and baking.

How to Use Them

Oils are good for all kinds of cooking. You can grill, sauté, stir-fry, bake, or roast with them. They're excellent at keeping food from sticking to pans. Use them to season your cast-iron skillet or make your own dressing. Oil can also be a healthy swap for butter or solid fats in recipes.

Know which oils you can use for which purposes and toss oils that go rancid or bad.

Tips

Oils can go bad, so don't use it if it smells off. Don't reuse or reheat it. Oils with high smoke points are best for stir-frying. Sauté with oils that have medium-high smoke points. Use oils with low smoke points for salad dressings and dips.

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