Consumers today need to look for healthy fats in their diet by replacing animal fats with vegetable fats. Nutritionists all agree the evidence favours polyunsaturated fats which are found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, as well as sunflower, safflower, soybean and corn oils rather than monounsaturated fats, found in other types of nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive, canola and peanut oils. And by replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, people reduce their risk of heart disease.
Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats is good for the heart because it decreases the levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and as well as fats in the blood called triglycerides, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
To help you select some of the healthiest oils that are still tasty, here is a rundown of cooking oils:
Avocado oil is a fine oil to use, although it tends to be more expensive than other oils and may be harder to find. It has a mild flavour similar to avocado, and the oil can withstand high cooking temperatures, making it suitable for sautéing, grilling, roasting or using in salad dressings.
Canola oil also has relatively high monounsaturated fat content. Although it contains a higher proportion of monounsaturated fat (62 percent of the fats in this oil are monounsaturated), Canola oil is also a good source of polyunsaturated fat (32 percent).
Coconut oil has been promoted as a better alternative to butter. It is white and solid at room temperature with a consistency resembling that of butter or shortening rather than a liquid oil. Consumers seem to have bought into the hype that it’s among the healthier options. Vegans, who eat no animal fat, may use it as a butter substitute.
Grapeseed oil is a versatile cooking oil extracted from grape seeds left over from wine making. A favourite of chefs and foodies, grapeseed oil has a mild flavour that can be combined with other, stronger flavours. It’s considered a good all-purpose oil that can be used for sautéing and roasting, or in salad dressings.
Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. This results in an oil that has more flavour and a fruity aroma. It is less processed, meaning it is considered “unrefined.” It is also typically more expensive than other types of olive oil and contains the most antioxidants. Refined versions of olive oil, called “pure,” are lighter in color and milder in flavor than extra-virgin oils.
Olive oils typically have the highest percentage of monounsaturated fats among cooking oils. Although some high-oleic versions of other oils may have artificially boosted levels of monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, beneficial plant compounds that some evidence suggests may improve heart health.
Light in color and neutral in flavour, sunflower oil has one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fat (69 percent) among cooking oils. It supplies some monounsaturated fat (20 percent) and is low in saturated fat (11 percent), making it an overall heart-healthy option. Sunflower oil is a good all-purpose oil because it can withstand high cooking temperatures.
Soybean oil is primarily a polyunsaturated oil (61 percent polyunsaturated fat, 24 monounsaturated fat and 15 percent saturated fat). As a bonus, soybean oil contains some omega-3 fats, which are heart-healthy fats often found in salmon and sardines, but are less common in plant-based sources of food.
Vegetable oil is usually made from soybeans. Bottles labelled ‘vegetable oil’ may comprise several different oils in varying proportions and are likely to contain ones that are high in saturated fats. is a neutral-tasting oil that does not have much flavour, nevertheless, It’s a versatile, all-purpose cooking oil for sautéing and frying, or making salad dressings.They’re usually inexpensive cooking oils and because they have a high smoking point they’re widely used for deep-frying.
Mustard oil can mean either the pressed oil used for cooking, or a pungent essential oil also known as volatile oil of mustard. The essential oil results from grinding mustard seed, mixing the grounds with water, and extracting the resulting volatile oil by distillation. It can also be produced by dry distillation of the seed. Pressed mustard oil is used as cooking oil in some cultures, but sale is restricted in some countries due to high levels of erucic acid. Varieties of mustard seed also exist that are low in erucic acid.
Sesame seed oil is derived from sesame seeds. It’s one of the most distinctive, fragrant and flavourful oils you’ll find, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavour that’s enhanced by toasting the seeds. Sesame seed oil is essential in oriental dishes: don’t use it for frying – instead, sprinkle it sparingly over the food just before serving.
Walnut oil is a luscious, fragrant addition to dressings and baking, but is also expensive and should only ever be purchased in tiny bottles because it can oxidise (go off) quickly.
Peanut Oil is a clear, pinkish-golden liquid made by pressing specially-grown peanuts from Spain, China and India. It is widely known as groundnut oil. The refined variety, specifically produced for export, is treated and deodorised to mellow its strong taste. This oil has a thinner pouring consistency than non-refined peanut oil, and its bland flavour makes it ideal for cooking. It has a high heat resistance, too, so does not burn easily.
Chilli oil is a great store cupboard staple that can add a kick to dishes like pasta and pizza if you don’t have fresh chillies in the house. Chilles’ heat levels vary tremendously, so always test how hot your oil is before using.
Truffle oil is olive oil infused with the taste and aroma of truffles. The ingredient is commonly used as a finishing oil in a variety of dishes, including truffle fries, pasta dishes, pizzas, and puréed foods such as mashed potatoes and deviled eggs. Truffle oil is available in all seasons and is significantly less expensive than fresh truffles. This has also led to a market growth in the product and an increase in the availability of truffle-flavoured foods.
Argan Oil is believed to be one of the rarest oils in the world. Argan oil is a robust, nutty oil made largely in Morocco from the nuts of the argan tree. Argan trees used to cover much of North Africa but they are now greatly reduced in numbers, hence the high price of argan oil. The nut is very difficult to remove from its sturdy fruit and the nuts were originally harvested, not from the tree, but from the droppings of the goats that climbed the trees and ate the fruit. The nut is related to the olive but has a distinct flavour of its own; its oil is used to add flavour to dressings and soups.
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