Cooking Oils 101

August 24, 2020

Roaming through the grocery store aisles can be quite daunting with how many options of one item there can be – a plethora of spices, a colorful assortment of labels, and shelves lined from top to bottom of different cooking oils. While you can likely tell that some spices differ from others, cooking oil may not be the easiest to tell the difference by just glancing at the shelves. Some oils are better suited for salads, while others will help you achieve that perfect sear on a steak. One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your cooking oil is its smoke point and health content. Here are the breakdowns of cooking oils you should be on the lookout for next time you roam the aisles.

Avocado Oil

Avocados have become the unsung hero over the years. Always a great addition to any meal of the day, these healthy fat fruits give you all the reason to use avocado oil when cooking. Avocado oil reduces cholesterol and improves heart health, making it even better. It enhances the absorption of important nutrients and continues to do so in each recipe you include it in. Avocado oil’s smoke point is at 520 degrees, which makes it perfect for searing, frying, grilling, roasting, baking, and even as a salad dressing.

Coconut Oil

Although coconut oil has a saturated fat content of 90 percent, it has actually become one of the popular options out there. Not only used for cooking, people also use coconut oil on their skin and in their hair. It has even been linked to reducing obesity due to its ability to give out good cholesterol. When it comes to cooking, coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees, which is great for sautéing and baking. When melted, it will give off a tropical scent, but don’t heat it up too much and make it smoke. Try this oil out with something tasty like waffles or pancakes!

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil is made from ground up flax seeds, giving off its healthy and beneficial natural oils. Like the seeds themselves, flaxseed oil is loaded with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which are also found in a variety of fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for reducing inflammation and protecting the brain from aging. Aside from that, flaxseed oil has even been linked to reducing cancer cell growth. This powerful oil is easily versatile as it can be used to top salads and can be mixed with other ingredients to make healthy and delicious dips and sauces. This oil has a very low smoke point of 225 degrees, so it should be used for dressings, smoothie, or drizzling over cooked foods.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is made from grapes, just like wine, but should be chosen only if it is made without any added chemicals. All-natural grapeseed oil can be a beneficial aspect of your cooking routine. It is a great source of Vitamin-E and is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can be beneficial to your heart if used in place of saturated fats. Like coconut oil, grapeseed oil can even be used as a beauty benefit. It has been linked to moisturizing skin, healing acne, reducing the appearance of scars, and even restoring moisture in your hair. With a smoke point of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use grapeseed oil for frying, sautéing, baking, and salad dressings.

Olive Oil

This widely used cooking oil may be one of the most common ingredients used when cooking or topping something off, especially since it has a high smoke point of 468 degrees. Olive oil is commonly known for its heart-healthy effects, including raising good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering the amount of oxidized LDL cholesterol. When choosing your olive oil from the shelves, make sure to choose the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) as it has many more nutrients and antioxidants. Other benefits include fighting obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and Type 2 Diabetes. Use it as a salad dressing or sauté your veggies with this oil.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is another common cooking oil that is used for many dishes. It is used for frying, sautéing, and simply adding flavor with a smoke point of 450 degrees. What’s unique about peanut oil is that it does not absorb flavors from the foods that are fried in it, meaning you can cook multiple food types within the same batch. This is why peanut oil is so commonly used in restaurants. However, if you plan on cooking with peanut oil, just make sure your guests aren’t allergic to peanuts!

 Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil is a lesser-known vegetable oil that includes plenty of benefits to your body, including improving your digestive system, helping bone growth, improving skin and hair health, and even diminishing dental issues. With a smoke point of 350 degrees, it is most commonly used in Asian cuisines, so don’t be afraid to use it while cooking some chicken, rice, noodles and more!

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