Guide to Oils

Oils have been long known to be the “good” fats in the diet. While this is true, how much do you know about how to use the different types of oils? Which is best for cooking and which is better for dipping?

1. Canola Oil: Canola oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant and is high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat (the good fats!) while being low in saturated fat (one of the bad fats). It is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. With a light flavor, canola oil is versatile in cooking – use as a replacement for solid fats in borsht cooking and baking.

2. Olive Oil: Extracted from olives, it is very similar in nutrition to canola oil. Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats which have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease. With a stronger flavor than canola oil, olive oil is not as versatile. It is great for sautéing and other cooking methods, but I would personally not use it in baking. It is also great to dip bread in.

3. Sesame Oil: Extracted from sesames, this oil is also rich in mono and polyunsaturated fat while also being low in saturated fat. It is known to be a  great source of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat shown to reduce chronic disease risk. With a strong nutty flavor, it is only used in certain recipes. It goes well in asian dishes such as stir fry or an asian cabbage slaw.

4. Flaxseed Oil: As another healthy oil, this is a great source of omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids. A great way for vegetarians to get these essential fatty acids without eating fish. With a low smoke point, this oil is not good for cooking. Drizzle it on salads or dip bread in it for something new!

5. Peanut Oil: Extracted from peanuts, this oil is a good source of phytosterols (heart healthy – helps prevent cholesterol absorption), monounsaturated fat, and vitamin E. With a high smoke point, this oil can withstand heat so it is often used for deep frying. Peanut oil has a nutty flavor so is also often found in asian recipes.

6. Grapeseed Oil: Extracted from grapeseeds (a byproduct of wine making), this oil is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids which have been shown to have health benefits such as lowering bad cholesterol. This oil is fairly versatile – can be used in sautéing, dipping, and in dressings.

7. Coconut Oil: Extracted from mature coconuts, this oil is actually higher in saturated fats. It also has lauric acid which has been shown to raise both good and bad cholesterol. With a sweet, nutty flavor this oil has been used in many recipes to add a tropical flavor such with fish or in curry. Since it has saturated fat, use this in moderation.

8. Walnut Oil: Extracted from dried, pressed walnuts, this oil is a good source of alpha-linolenic acids which partially convert to omega-3s in the body. Omega-3s have heart health benefits. With a hearty, nutty flavor, this oil does not handle heat well so is best used in salad dressings or adding a unique flavor to other recipes after cooking.

Store your oils in a cool, dark place to prolong their shelf life. Have fun experimenting with these different flavorful oils!

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics “All About Oils”

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