There are plenty of different options when looking for the healthiest oil to cook with. Whether you want to bake, sauté or drizzle, you will find several oils made for that. Good oil for cooking depends on the food you want to cook. While most people will tell you oils such as virgin olive oil is healthy, it may not be good for the food you are cooking. Some oils are for frying, others for baking and some are perfect for salads.
So what oil is good for cooking? To answer this question, you must consider the cooking method to use.
Here are some tips for choosing good oil for cooking.
How Good Can Your Oil Handle High Temperatures?
One of the most important factors to consider is the point when the oil boils or smokes. It can alter the flavor of your food and degrade most nutrients in the oil. But worst of all is that such oil can release free radicals, which are harmful to the people who eat the food.
If you’re frying food, go for oils that withstand high temperatures. They include canola, palm, avocado, and peanut oil. But their refined versions are the best.
Let’s take a look at the two common forms of oil and how they handle high temperatures.
Unrefined oils are original and in their natural state after they are obtained from plants. Most of them are extracted through crushing and pressing and left in a virgin form. They retain their natural taste along with nutrients and are therefore a healthy choice.
Some of the oils are extracted using uncontrolled temperatures. This refers to the friction that occurs when pressing. The oil extracted at temperatures below 90°C is called cold-pressed. This type of oil is known to best preserve its natural aroma, flavor, nutrients, and color.
However, unrefined oils are not good with heat. They have a low smoke point making them suitable for dressings, low-temperature cooking, and drizzling. Besides, they do not last for long and this is why it’s impossible to find any oil in its unrefined state for sale.
Refined oils are most common, and they made through intensive chemical and mechanical processes. The common extraction process used to extract refined oil is:
- The seeds are crushed and heated in a steam bath.
- A combination of high heat and press, along with friction, is used to extract oil from seeds.
- The oil mixture or raw seeds are put via a centrifuge, and then phosphate is added to separate the seed residues and the oil.
- The oil is refined through degumming, bleaching, and neutralizing.
- The final product is deodorized.
The main reason oils are refined is to neutralize flavor and increase shelf-life and the smoke point. If your cooking requires high-heat cooking, they are the best cooking oils to go for.
How To Choose A Good Cooking Oil
Before listing some of the healthy oils for cooking without having to give up the taste of your recipes, take a look at some features to keep in mind before choosing an oil to use.
Stability Of The Oil
Good oil for cooking should remain stable even when exposed to high temperatures. Its stability is determined by quickly it oxidizes. This refers to how they react with oxygen to create free radicals.
Try to do a little online research to find stability information on the type of oil you would like to use.
Always Consider Fat Content
While all oils are fat, some have a higher content of unhealthy fats than others. Go for monounsaturated fats if you want to keep your heart healthy. They keep cholesterol levels down and prevent many health complications that occur due to too many unhealthy fats in the body. Trans fat oils are chemically processed and, therefore, hydrogenated, which makes them bad for you. Always read labels before you decide to buy any oil.
Besides, avoid saturated fats as they are obtained from animals and can thicken your arteries leading to heart health problems.
Sample Several Oils
Take time to sample various oils before you settle for one. You can judge how good the oil is by its taste or flavor. Some oils have seasonings added in them such as chili pepper, and you can choose what you love most.
Consider Your Recipe
Before you settle for any oil, take time to see the specific oil recommended by your recipe. Be sure to use exactly what is recommended or something similar.
Best Cooking Oil
Now that you have a deeper knowledge of this fantastic ingredient, let’s take a look at the best types of oil to use in your dishes.
Sunflower seeds produce sunflower oil. It is rich with vitamin E making it excellent for cooking and also for use in cosmetic products. It is a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The good thing about this cooking oil is that it has a high smoke point and therefore doesn’t lose its nutrients when exposed to high heat. It is suitable for deep-frying samosas, chips, and vegetables. However, anyone who has diabetes should be careful with sunflower oil. It can elevate sugar levels in the body.
Olive oil is one of the most known healthy cooking oils. It is versatile and over the years, has proven to be beneficial and a perfect option when looking for an oil that is rich in oxidants and healthy for the heart.
However, its smoking point is low and cannot be used with temperatures that go over 370ºF.
It can be used in foods such as pancakes, eggs, and pasta. Any cooking that can be done with low heat means you can use olive oil.
Canola has a high content of monounsaturated fat. But it also has a small percentage of polyunsaturated fat, which makes 32% of the fat. This cooking oil has gained popularity in recent years as it is regarded as one of the healthiest cooking oils. It is obtained from canola seeds, and its smoking point is average. It can be used for sautéing, baking, and cooking french-fries.
One of the most outstanding qualities of canola oil is that it contains omega-3 fats. This is something rare and not found in most cooking oils. According to several studies, this cooking oil also helps to reduce cholesterol in the body. It is neutral flavored and, therefore, excellent for everyone to use. The main part of the canola plant that produces the oil is also known as rapeseed and grows in Canada. This oil is versatile and quite affordable. It works perfectly in stir-frying, baking, or grilling.
Rice Bran Oil
The rice bran oil is very popular, but rising to become a favorite amongst cooks. It is made from bran where the outer part of the grain is used. According to health experts, it is believed to be the healthiest cooking oil. While that is not proven 100%, it does work well with several foods. The rice bran oil is great if you want to lower cholesterol or prevent it. Since its smoking point is high, it can be used in deep frying and making cakes.
Coconut oil is extracted from coconut. It can only be obtained from mature coconuts and it remains solid when placed at room temperature and liquefies at 75°F. However, it can be used in any state. This oil is saturated and contains fat that encourages the increase of good cholesterol in the body. Coconut oil is still under research to prove how therapeutic it can be.
In cooking, it can be used in low-heat cooking and baking because it has a low smoke point.
Check our dedicated guide to this type of oil for more information.
Grapeseed oil is extracted from wine grapes’ seeds. The oil is rich in omega-6 fats and lowers cholesterol in the body while delivering vitamin E.
The good thing about is the high smoke point combined with light color and nuttiness flavor. If you are cooking any food that requires stir-frying, sautéing, or baking, grapeseed oil is a good option.
Peanut oil is pressed from peanuts and can be found as toasted, unrefined or refined oil. This oil contains small amounts of resveratrol, which prevents some cardiovascular diseases. Besides, it is rich in vitamin E.
When cooking, you can try the toasted version of peanut oil if you want a neutral flavor. This oil is perfect for grilling, roasting, frying and sautéing. This is possible because it has a high smoking point.
The unrefined version of this oil has a low smoking point and can only be used in salads and medium cooking.
This oil is extracted from safflower seeds and has proven beneficial for women trying to lose weight and dealing with belly fat. It is helpful to diabetes patients as it improves insulin while increasing good cholesterol in the body.
This oil is known for high heat suitability, and it goes without saying that its smoking point is high. It is perfect for stir-frying, baking, and sautéing.
This oil is obtained from soybeans and is one of the rare cooking oils that come with omega-3 fats. This makes it friendly to the heart, not to mention a rich source of omega-6s. It is a primary ingredient in most processed foods, including frozen, baked goods, mayonnaise and dressings for salad.
The soybean oil can be used in many cooking methods, including deep-frying, baking, sautéing, and stir-frying.
Walnut oil is obtained from dried walnuts and extracted via a cold-pressing process. This oil is good for the heart, just like the walnuts are. According to research, the oil also helps your body when you are very stressed. Adding walnuts or using walnut oil helps lower blood pressure.
It is ideal for dressing salads, especially due to its nutty flavor. However, you should never heat it as it becomes bitter.
Red Palm Fruit Oil
This oil is pressed from palm fruit and it’s similar to coconut oil. It can be used as liquid or solid. Most people confuse it with palm kernel oil, which is unhealthy, with up to 89% of saturated fat. However, red palm fruit oil is not as saturated as the palm kernel oil. It also contains beta-carotene, and that’s why it has an orange color.
With a low smoke point, the oil is perfect for low heat sautéing and adds a carrot-like flavor.
This is healthy cooking oil made from corn. It is superior to the extra-virgin olive oil and works exceptionally to lower cholesterol in the body. It is based on the combination of plant sterols and is healthy for the heart. It is an excellent oil for cooking foods that require a lot of heat and a high smoking point. The oil is perfect for baking, stir-frying, and grilling.
Avocado oil is known to be rich in monounsaturated fat, which makes up to 70% of its fat content. It has a high smoking point and can, therefore, be used in grilling, sautéing, roasting and can be used in dressing salads. It is a type of oil widely used in ketogenic cooking.
However, refined avocado oil is one of the costly oils and it is not always easy to find it in a supermarket.
Now you know what makes cooking oil good. You also know different oils that you can use based on the choice of your food and the cooking method you want to use.
Apart from the taste, you can tell what is right for your health and then make a wise decision in choosing the best cooking oil for your needs.