Walk into any supermarket and be prepared to be overwhelmed when you reach the cooking oil aisle. So many options make it tough to know which ones are the healthiest. Thankfully, the Yes Health coaches are here to help you choose the best oil for the job.
First, keep in mind that different oils have different uses. Some are perfect for baking, while others excel at roasting and frying and a few are best kept cool for drizzling and dressings. So how do you pick? It mostly comes down to something called the smoke point–the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke and therefore becomes ineffective (and less healthy for you to eat). Oils with high smoke points (typically above 375 degrees) are typically more refined, because their heat-sensitive impurities are often removed.
If you’re looking for something to bake with, opt for a neutral-flavored oil.
For sautéing and searing, choose a more lively tasting oil with a lower smoke point.
For dressing, you can’t go wrong with extra-virgin olive oil.
Choose cold-pressed over chemically refined oils whenever possible, and check your oils regularly to be sure they haven’t turned rancid. Keeping them in the refrigerator is a sure way to keep them fresh.
No matter what oil you choose, use them sparingly. A little goes a long way!
- Avocado oil – Touted for its heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, high smoke point (375-400 degrees F) and neutral flavor sans chemical processing. It’s less in saturated fat (only 1.6 grams per tablespoon) than coconut oil, but also a bit more expensive than others in its class (i.e. canola).
- Coconut oil – Purported to raise your “good” cholesterol, coconut oil has a serious edge over butter. Its creamy, fatty quality makes it a great vegan alternative for baked goods. Some brands are more “coconuty” than others, so experiment to find one you like. If you want to use it for sautéing or roasting, opt for low and slow since it has a smoke point of just 350 degrees F.
- Grapeseed oil – The mild, neutral flavor of this all-purpose oil can be combined with an array of cuisines. Use it for sautéing and roasting, or in more elaborate salad dressings. Remember to store grapeseed oil in the refrigerator to prevent it from turning rancid.
- Safflower oil – Low in saturated fats, high in omega-9 fatty acids, Safflower oil has a neutral flavor and very high smoke point. (510 degrees F). Safflower oil is sold both chemically processed and cold-pressed (our favorite) like olive oil.
Sesame oil – This highly flavorful, unrefined oil is popular in Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. It has a medium smoke point (350-410 degrees F) making it a great sautéing alternative to peanut oil if you have allergies. Like extra-virgin olive oil, it’s cold-pressed rather than chemically processed. Keep it in the refrigerator for a longer life.
Save extra-virgin olive oil, flax, hemp and walnut oils for off-the-stove jobs, like making salad dressings and lightly drizzling over fish, grilled veggies and dips.
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