4 Healthy Cooking Oils to Try
If you cook at home often, you’re probably no stranger to using oil for cooking. While you may have a favorite, it’s good to know that not all oils are created equal. For one thing, it’s important to choose the right oil for the right job — for example, if you cook an oil at a temperature higher than its “smoke point”, it can become unstable and begin to break down, releasing free radicals and a burnt flavor. Another thing to consider is if the oil is refined or unrefined — unrefined oils are less processed, which means they contain more nutrients, but they are also usually more sensitive to heat and tend to be more expensive. Keep reading to learn more about healthy cooking oils and which might be right for your cooking needs.
No doubt you’ve cooked with olive oil before, as it’s one of the most popular, and healthiest, oils for cooking. It’s important to buy high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which means that the oil is not overly processed. Olive oil is a great source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. It’s also full of healthy fats and oleic acid, which has been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil consumption has been linked to improved heart health, and is a much better choice than butter for sautéing vegetables. Besides using olive oil for cooking, it can be used in baked goods or combined with balsamic vinegar and spices to make a delicious salad dressing. The smoke point of olive oil is approximately 350°F, making it right for cooking over low or medium heat.
Avocado Oil is a mild oil without much flavor, which makes it great for cooking. Like extra virgin olive oil, its unrefined, contains healthy fats, vitamin E, and is known to reduce inflammation. Other benefits of avocado oil is that it can help with the absorption of other nutrients and protects cells from free radical damage. Avocado oil’s smoke point is approximately 520°F, which makes it a better option for high-heat cooking than olive oil.
If you’d like to support a local company the next time you buy avocado oil, check out Chosen Foods. This San Diego-based company makes avocado oils and various avocado oil products, all of which are non-GMO verified. Tip — if you tend to go through a lot of oil rather quickly, you can sometimes find a large bottle of their oil at various San Diego Costco locations, along with their handy cooking sprays.
Sesame oil is a staple in Asian cooking and is excellent when making stir-frys or marinades and dressings. It has healthy fatty acids and antioxidants, and it’s strong flavor means you don’t need to use much in order to get that nice sesame taste. With a smoke point of approximately 410°F, it’s safe to use in high-heat cooking.
Depending who you ask, you may hear some debate about if coconut oil can be called “healthy” or not. This is because coconut oil has a high amount of saturated fat, but at the same time, it’s not the same kind of unhealthy saturated fat that comes from animal sources. While saturated fats from beef should be limited or avoided altogether by people with high cholesterol, the plant-based fats in coconut oil can help raise good cholesterol, and provide a source of energy. While you may want to use coconut oil in moderation depending on how you feel about the saturated fat debate, it also has many benefits outside of the kitchen. Coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer for hair, skin, and lips, and even used in place of mouthwash in a pinch!
How to use Healthy Cooking Oils
- Use as a healthy substitute for butter or other fats in recipes
- Drizzle on pans to keep food from sticking
- Use to season cast-iron pans
- Great for baking, roasting, grilling, and sautéing all types of foods
- Get creative and make your own salad dressings, dips, and marinades — making your own will save you money plus allow you to create the perfect flavor!