· By Najwa Khan
Top 7 Healthiest Oils to Cook With
Author: Noelle Khan
When it comes to baking a delicious grain-free dessert like our Dalci brownies or whipping up a quick stir fry, what oil comes to mind? As health-conscious individuals we all know that hydrogenated oils like margarine or vegetable oils like canola can trigger inflammation in the body, and for that reason are best avoided when baking, sautéing and even frying up some of our favorite foods. Despite this little-known fact, deciding on what types of cooking oils to store in your cupboard can still feel tricky given the different smoking points, nutritional benefits, and countless options available. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top 7 nutritious oils to consider adding to your weekly meals. With this simple guide, consider a total culinary mishap in the kitchen avoided.
Top 7 nutritious oils
- Olive Oil: We love the rich, peppery flavor extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) adds to a crisp crostini or fresh mozzarella and tomato salad. You can owe the fruity scent, spicy kick and dark color of unrefined olive oil to the extraction process. According to the International Olive Council, unlike refined olive oil, during the extraction process the higher quality EVOO is not exposed to heat or chemicals that may alter the flavor or vitamin and mineral content. With a strong olive flavor and lower smoke point of 325-375 degrees Fahrenheit (F), this pricier oil is best reserved for drizzling over a fresh salad or adding to a delicious dip like hummus.
- Avocado Oil: When avocados comes to mind you might picture a tempting bowl of fresh guacamole or filling slice of avocado toast. While the nutrient dense flesh of this trendy fruit can be enjoyed as a meal, the versatile oil extracted from the pulp can be poured over a salad, baked into a batch of brownies or whipped into a creamy aioli. The high smoke point of 375-400 degrees F makes avocado oil a kitchen must-have for all your cooking needs. We love incorporating avocado oil into all our Dalci brownies because it keeps them chewy and moist while also adding in a nice dose of healthy fats which are great for maintaining a healthy heart. Results from a study found avocado oil beneficial in increasing the “good” cholesterol in rabbits when compared to coconut, olive and corn oils. Studies show that maintaining a healthy cholesterol level may lower your risk for heart disease.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil seems to have gotten a bad rep these days, but new research proves that coconut lovers can still enjoy some nutritional benefits from this tropical alternative. Although overconsumption of coconut oil can increase total cholesterol levels, it’s still a smarter option to pick up from the shelf than vegetable oil or butter. With a low smoke point of 350 degrees F, coconut oil is the *perfect* substitute for all cake, cookie or brownie recipes that call for less healthier alternatives. Not only does this tropical oil come in handy for all your baking needs, it’s also a great option for sautéing up some tofu and veggies or mixing into your morning coffee. Like EVOO, the virgin variety will add a rich flavor to your meal while also offering a range of nutritional benefits. For example, moderate consumption of coconut oil may help curb your appetite, boost your metabolism and support fat loss.
- Sesame Oil: We believe food should be flavorful and nothing adds quite the kick to stir-fry veggies or a salad like a drizzle of sesame oil. Although sesame oil has a high smoke point of 350 degrees F, this nutty and deep flavored oil is best reserved for enhancing the flavor of meat in the form of a marinade or dressing up raw citrus fruits and veggies like orange and cucumber. Not only does sesame oil intensify the flavors of your favorite dishes, it also plays a key role in keeping your heart healthy. Like the neutral flavored avocado oil, this anti-inflammatory oil decreases “bad” cholesterol levels naturally, making it the perfect pantry staple for combating against cardiovascular disease.
- Flaxseed Oil: If keeping your heart healthy is a top priority but a busy schedule prevents you from sautéing veggies up in coconut oil, add in a tablespoon of this low smoke point oil to your morning smoothie or post-workout shake instead. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid, this centuries old, medicinal oil is a great option for maintaining a healthy cholesterol level.
- Grapeseed Oil: When life gives you grapes, make some wine and then some antioxidant rich grapeseed oil. Bet you didn’t know that grapeseed oil is made from the crushed seeds that are left behind from the grapes used to make wine. Like red wine, grapeseed oil is rich in vitamin E – a fat-soluble antioxidant that can combat various diseases, like cancer or Alzheimer’s, caused by oxidative stress. While the benefits of your favorite adult beverage can be reaped with a side serving of dark chocolate, the health advantages of this neutral oil can be enjoyed over a salad, in a cake, or in a homemade mayo. With a smoke point of 390 degrees F, Grapeseed oil is just as versatile as avocado oil.
- Peanut Oil: Sometimes when a major craving for deep fried chicken or fries kicks in, a baked option just won’t cut it. That’s where peanut oil comes in. With a high smoke point of 450 degrees F, this unrefined oil is perfect for crisping up your favorite fried foods or adding a bold nutty flavor to homemade Asian inspired dishes like pad thai. Best of all, peanut oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which can reduce the risk of breast cancer, regulate glucose levels and reduce inflammation in the body.