5 Best Oils for Cooking

If you would like to improve the quality of your diet, to make it more heart-healthy, look first to the cooking oil you use. Oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat help to lower blood cholesterol and are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

It’s important to choose the best cooking oil for the dish you’re preparing.

Each oil has different qualities that determine its best use, and before you choose an oil understand the needs of your recipe. As an example, if you need to fry something, you’ll want an oil with a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. If you are baking, again it’s best to choose a neutral flavor oil. If you are sautéing and searing meat or fish, you should choose a flavorful oil with a lower smoke point. If making your own healthy dressing, a flavorful oil is best.

Here are five heart-healthy oils and their best uses:

  1. Walnuts and walnut oils are polyunsaturated fat and excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnut oil is rich in phytonutrients and is an excellent source of selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, Vitamin-E and niacin. Walnut oil has a smoke point of 400 degrees F making it a great choice for baking or sautéing at low-to-medium heats.
  1. Flaxseed oil is another polyunsaturated fat and an excellent source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil has a much lower smoke point of 225 degrees F, it will burn easily and should not be cooked. Flaxseed oil is still very versatile; it can easily be substituted for other less healthy oils in salad dressings, dips and sauces. You can also add one tablespoon to your smoothies or shakes.
  1. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat with a smoke point of 325 degrees F and can be used for cooking at medium heat. Olive oil is an excellent source of oleic acid, shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar. Extra-virgin olive oil from the first press of olives is the least processed version and the most full-bodied in flavor. It can be used for savory cooking, sautéing, stir-frying, marinating and dressings.
  1. Avocado oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat with a high smoke point of 500 degrees F, making it a great choice for high heat cooking, sautéing or frying. Avocado oil is flavorful, savory and not the best choice for sweet baking, but an excellent choice for pizza crust or baked breads.
  1. Grapeseed oil is a polyunsaturated fat with a very low saturated fat level. It has a fairly high smoke point of 420 degrees F and can be used for stir-frying and sauteing. Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of winemaking and a good source of Vitamin E and oleic acid. Its neutral flavor makes grapeseed oil the best choice if you don’t want to taste the oil in your recipe.

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