Shopping for cooking oil at your local supermarket presents you with a wide array of types and prices, and selecting one suitable to both your recipe and health is key.
Different oils have different smoking points (the temperature at which they begin to burn and degrade), and some contain antioxidants and other compounds that provide health benefits.
1. Extra-virgin olive oil
EVOO is the cornerstone of Mediterranean diet and widely recognized for its heart-health benefits. Packed with heat-stable MUFAs and polyphenols that combat inflammation and promote vasodilation, as well as antioxidants like Oleocanthal which has been shown to kill cancer cells and protect against Alzheimer’s, it offers immense cardiovascular protection.
EVOO differs from refined olive oils in that it is cold-pressed from fresh olives without high heat or chemical solvents, helping preserve its vitamins and phytochemicals such as polyphenols that have been linked with reduced risks of heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Studies have also demonstrated that eating extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) can increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K; additionally it may improve glycemic control for those living with type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity.
2. Canola oil
Canola oil (Canadian rapeseed oil) is one of the most frequently used cooking oils. With its neutral flavor profile and ability to withstand high-heat cooking methods such as sauteing and frying, canola is a staple oil used in many households today.
Canola oil is known to be heart-healthy with minimal levels of saturated fat compared to other common cooking oils. Furthermore, its Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid composition provides optimal balance.
Canola oil has the ability to go rancid quickly, so for optimal storage conditions it should be stored in a cool, dark location. Furthermore, purchasing Non-GMO Project Verified varieties may help avoid purchasing genetically modified oils.
3. Flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum) is one of the world’s richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, with your body turning them into heart-protecting eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Flaxseed oil not only offers cardiovascular health benefits, but it can also aid in treating constipation by acting as a lubricant – making it a popular component in natural treatment diets like the Budwig protocol.
Flaxseed can be enjoyed both raw or ground into meal, while its oil can be taken in liquid or capsule form. Both foods contain lignans – phytoestrogens with anticancer properties – that act as phytoestrogens and may offer anti-cancer benefits. Unlike fish oils, flaxseed oil does not go rancid quickly so can be consumed daily as part of a multivitamin supplement; especially helpful when taking blood pressure medications! It’s important to add in additional dietary fat such as flaxseed oil when taking blood pressure medications!
4. Sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is a nutritious choice that contains both oleic and linoleic acids, typically having lower saturated fat and cholesterol content than most cooking oils.
Smoke point of this oil is high enough to withstand moderate-to-high heat, making it a staple in Ukraine and Russia kitchens for sauteing, frying, and producing pyrizhky (stuffed savory donuts).
Refined sunflower oil has an indefinite shelf life, boasting neutral flavor and light amber hue, while unrefined varieties tend to be less stable, best suited for low heat applications. Sunflower seed oil has been linked with reduced inflammation, improved skin and hair health, strengthened immune defense against disease and served as a good source of vitamin E; excessive consumption, however, could cause omega-6 fatty acids to accumulate and lead to cardiovascular issues or noninsulin-dependent diabetes.
5. Coconut oil
When selecting an ideal cooking oil for your meals, there is much to keep in mind. Not only must you consider its flavor and smoke point; you should also think about whether or not it will benefit your health.
Julia Zumpano, RD, provides an informative breakdown of various cooking oils to help select the appropriate one for each dish you make. She outlines each oil’s uses for searing, baking and sauteing.
Coconut oil contains high concentrations of medium chain saturated fats that our bodies digest and metabolize differently from long-chain saturated fats. Furthermore, these MCFAs help prevent bacterial overgrowth while killing harmful viruses, bacteria and fungi. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory properties and potential use in treating thyroid diseases make coconut oil an invaluable ingredient.