I love to cook, and while I know not everybody does, I thought it would still be nice to share what I use for oils in my home. Why? Because while oils are fats, and many oils are actually healthy for you…in moderation, of course!
Most cooking oils have something to offer, whether they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, rich in vitamins, and/or proven to increase heart health. So, here is my list of oils – in no particular order:
1.) Extra Virgin Olive Oil: I guess I did put them in some sort of order, because olive oil is my favorite oil to keep on hand. That being said, olive oil should not be used for high temperature cooking. At high temperatures, olive oil will oxidize, which causes loss of its numerous health benefits. Olive oil should be used for low-heat sauteing of vegetables or stir-frying. I like to use olive oil as a salad dressing mixed with vinegar, drizzled on steam vegetables with herbs and spices, and for the sauteing of veggies.
2.) Grape Seed Oil: If you’ve never seen it, grape seed oil is light green in color and has a mild nutty flavor. It is high in vitamins C & E and has also been shown to raise good cholesterol levels as well as lower bad cholesterol levels. Grape seed oil has a high burn point, which means it can be used for high temperature cooking, unlike olive oil, making this my oil of choice when doing any sort of frying. It is also so versatile, I sometimes use it as a salad dressing.
3.) Hemp Seed Oil: This oil contains an array of essential fatty acids. In fact, a single tablespoon of hemp seed oil provides your body with its EFA requirements of the day. Hemp seed oil can oxidize quickly, so it must be stored in a cool/dark area – preferably in a dark glass bottle. This oil should only be used for low heat cooking like sauteing or stir frying, which is another alternative to olive oil when I feel like mixing things up.
4.) Flaxseed Oil: I love flaxseed, so flaxseed oil is essential in my kitchen. It is an oil you should never ever heat and always keep in the refrigerator. With its pleasant nutty flavor, I like to use a tablespoon of this oil as dressing for salads or mixed on top of my cooled oatmeal (gross for some, I know, but I am able to eat it more quickly when it’s cooled). An added benefit is flaxseed oil is that it’s high in heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
5.) Coconut Oil: This is by far my favorite oil for frying and baking. Scrambling eggs? Try melting some coconut oil in the pan, and then scramble your egg whites – it sounds a little weird, but it’s actually VERY yummy. Coconut oil is almost completely saturated fat, which sounds scary, but coconut oil has so many other health benefits. It is its high saturated fat content that gives the oil its high smoke point, which means it will not breakdown (oxidize) when cooked. Coconut oil can be substituted for butter or other oils at a 1:1 ratio in recipes. For a light and low calorie snack try popping popcorn in coconut oil or use it instead of butter on a baked potato.
While I have and will always love olive, I also have a new found love for coconut oil. The other above oils I use on and off, but coconut oil is so very versatile. Honestly, I find myself using it more and more. If you decide to try coconut oil yourself, be sure to get organic, extra-virgin coconut oil.