Years ago, there were far less options when it came to oils. Now — there’s avocado oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, canola oil, vegetable oil ++ so many more! It can be hard to know where to start when selecting the right oil for you with so many options, so we’ve got some tips + tricks to share with you to maximize your oil repertoire + minimize your headache!
THE BASICS —
Oils are fats that add flavor to a meal, but they can have different compositions + tastes. Some are better for topping off a salad, while others are essential for sauteing chicken in a frying pan. The composition typically ranges from some oils that have a higher concentration of monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat [the *good* fats] to others having more saturated fat [the *not-so-good* fat]. There is debate right now about whether or not saturated fat is as bad as we previously thought, but it still stands that it should make up only a small percentage of your daily intake.
THE TYPES —
1] OLIVE OIL
This has always been my go-to oil. It’s high in monounsaturated fats [MUFA] + great for sauteing in a pan or finishing a salad. But there are different types + your extra-virgin olive oil will be best for use in a salad. If you don’t mind doing so, it might be best to get two different kinds — a cheaper olive oil for frying//sauteing + a more expensive oil for salads or dishes that won’t require heat.
2] SUNFLOWER OIL
With a high polyunsaturated fat [PUFA] content, this is another oil choice. However, this oil is not a great choice for high heat, so it’s best to have an alternative for your frying pan. We think this oil would be best for finishing salads.
3] CANOLA OIL
Canola oil is pretty functional — it can be used for frying, finishing a salad, or baking. When baking, it can substitute for butter [+ not a lot of other oils can do that because they often change the taste too much]. Canola oil contains alpha-linoleic acid as well, which has been linked to heart health benefits!
4] COCONUT OIL
This fat has been in the media a lot recently, but it does have a considerably higher content of saturated fat than a lot of other oils. If using, I would do so minimally + mostly for baking. Still, it has a lot of other uses besides cooking!
5] AVOCADO OIL
This oil has a high smoke point, so it can be used for frying//sauteing as well as finishing a salad. There aren’t any red flags with this oil, but it really depends on whether or not you love its nutty taste that may shine through.
6] SESAME OIL
This oil has a decent amount of the *good* fats. It’s often used in Asian or Indian cuisines to enhance the flavor. WIth it’s high smoke point, it can be used for frying//sauteing as well as for topping a salad. Choosing this oil will depend on your preference for its distinct taste + aroma.
THE VERDICT —
Recent research indicates that fats with a higher content of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats are more beneficial than those with a high concentration of saturated fat. However, it’s important to consider your own preferences as well. We recommend having 1-2 *go-to* oils for all your cooking needs, [sauteing, baking + topping salads] so you always have something on hand. Based on the health benefits + versatility, a mix of olive, canola + avocado oil could be your best bet for expanding your oil repertoire!
Did we miss an oil you love? Let us know in the comments!
+Alyssa[@thebusybee_] //VirtCHAARG Pittsburgh