If you’ve visited your local grocery store, you may have noticed that the selection of cooking oils you have to choose from has been getting bigger and bigger. While having options is normally a good thing, too many options can quickly become overwhelming. To help you decipher which healthy cooking oils you need to stock your pantry with, we’re sharing our top picks and what each of these oils is useful for.
Healthy Cooking Oils
Whether it’s classic canola oil or more flavorful oils like sesame, there seems to be an endless array of cooking oils to choose from. Here are the healthy cooking oils you can use for all your culinary needs:
Extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy cooking oil you can use for a quick sauté or to drizzle over pasta, bread, and salads. Because olive oil has a low smoke point, it’s not very suitable for frying. Olive oil can also be pronounced in its olive flavor, which might not make it the best oil for certain baked goods or other foods where you wouldn’t want the flavor of olives shining through.
The positive effects of olive oil can include: facilitates weight loss, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, helps maintains healthy cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Canola oil is low in saturated fat, making it another heart-healthy oil. It also has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which makes it better for cooking foods at higher temperatures and slightly longer durations. Canola oil doesn’t have much flavor like olive oil, so it’s not very good as a garnish for your salads or other foods that could do with a good boost of flavor.
While canola oil does go through a chemical processing phase to get its high smoke point, it is also one of the oils with the richest amount of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that is associated with heart health.
Flaxseed oil is derived from the flax plant and can have a slightly nutty flavor. Because flaxseed doesn’t hold up well under heat, it’s best used as a finishing touch for your foods, or added to uncooked ingredients like salads or smoothies.
Like canola oil, flaxseed oil another good source of alpha-linolenic acid, which has been linked to reduced inflammation, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of cancer and helpful in treating constipation.
Avocado oil will be your best friend when it comes to cooking foods at high temperatures. It’s not only cholesterol-friendly, but it has a high smoke point, making it great for sautéing, grilling, or searing.
Because avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, it can promote healthy cholesterol levels and help the body absorb nutrients better.
While walnut oil can be on the pricier side, it has a great nutty flavor that’s suitable for salads and even desserts. It’s best to use walnut oil on foods that won’t be heated as walnut oil can become slightly bitter when warmed.
Walnut oil is rich in heart-healthy omega-3’s, making it beneficial in protecting against heart disease, as well as omega-9’s, which help improve blood circulation.
Perhaps one of the oils with the most pronounced flavor, sesame oil is a staple in Asian cuisine. The light version can be used for stir-frying, and the dark version can be used for dressings and sauces.
Sesame oil is rich in fatty acids, which is great for keeping the cardiovascular system strong, as well as zinc, which provides benefits to your skin and bones.
Grapeseed oil is a fantastic option for cooking foods at high temperatures. It has a very high smoke point, yet is low in saturated fat. It also has a slightly nutty, mild flavor that makes it suitable for salads and dressings as well.
Because grapeseed oil is low in saturated fat, it has been tied to lower cholesterol levels and lower risk for heart disease. It’s also been said to be full of antioxidants and procyanidin dimers (compounds that act as aromatase inhibitors), both of which help protect against cancer.