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The 5 Healthiest Cooking Oils

The 5 Healthiest Cooking Oils

From olive oil to sesame, here are the five healthiest cooking oils that you should switch to for life-long health benefits

If there is one nutritional upgrade that we should all consider, it is switching to healthier cooking oils. It is important to know that not all oils are considered appropriate in cooking, particularly in high heat preparations. These include oils such as flax oil and walnut oil. They have a low smoke point and are considered more suitable for cold uses like salad dressings. But how do you know which oil is right for you? Scroll ahead for a simple, know-all guide to choosing healthy cooking oils.

What to consider while choosing the healthiest cooking oils?

Want the healthiest cooking oil for your kitchen? Here are a few things you should keep in mind while purchasing one:

  1. Understanding different types of fats - Oils are an excellent source of fat, an essential nutrient that supports healthy body weight and promotes better nutrient absorption. However, it is important to choose the right oil with the right fats. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends avoiding oils with saturated fats and instead choosing those rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. These “good fats'' can help lower the risk of heart diseases and strokes whereas too much saturated fat can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol.

  2. Knowing an oil’s smoke point - Every oil has a smoke point. An oil’s smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke up and is no longer stable. Cooking in burnt oil not only gives the food a bitter flavor but also releases free radicals that can be harmful to your health. Familiarizing yourself with smoke points will help you choose the healthiest oil for different types of cooking.

  3. Buying cooking oils in small amounts. It is important to use fresh oils. Generally, oils should be used within 30-60 days after opening. Storing oils for long periods can cause them to oxidize and result in the development of free radicals. Thus, it is important to buy oils in small amounts. Furthermore, check the best-by date before buying and store it in a cool, dry and dark place.

What are the healthiest cooking oils?

Using the right oils can revamp your health by infusing your body with essential nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin A, D, E and K. Here are five healthiest cooking oils that you should upgrade to for tremendous health benefits:

Extra-virgin olive oil

Abundant in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, extra-virgin olive oil contains anti-inflammatory properties and is beneficial for reducing LDL cholesterol levels. This is due to the presence of antioxidant compounds called oleocanthal and oleuropein. A meta-analysis conducted in 2014 found that the monounsaturated fatty acids present in olive oil were effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Another Harvard observational study, after observing health data from 90,000 people over a span of nearly 30 years, concluded that consuming a small amount of olive oil every day may extend your life expectancy.

Smoke point: 350°F

Best suitable for: Salad dressings and sautéing

Avocado oil

Derived from the flesh of pressed avocados, avocado oil is suitable for almost any cooking use in the kitchen since it has a high smoke point. It is loaded with healthy monounsaturated and heart-healthy fats like oleic acid that may help lower your risk of heart diseases. It has a mild flavor that is very versatile and can be used as a healthy option for baked goods. It may also be beneficial for improving the absorption of other nutrients as well as for protecting the cells against free radical damage. 

Smoke point: Virgin - 375°F, Refined - 520°F

Best suitable for: Roasting, frying and baked goods

Sesame oil

Not only is sesame oil low in saturated fats, but it is also rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that contain heart-healthy benefits such as reducing inflammation and improving cholesterol. Moreover, this oil contains powerful antioxidants like sesamol and sesamin that help reduce cell damage caused by free radicals. A study on 46 people with type 2 diabetes found that the usage of sesame oil for 90 days considerably improved fasting blood sugar. Another study found that sesame oil helped reduce blood pressure due to the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and the compound sesamin.

Smoke point: 450°F

Best suitable for: Stir fry, frying and sautéing

Flaxseed oil 

Abundant in monounsaturated fatty acids, flaxseed oil is an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids that are known to support brain health. Omega 3 ALA, found in flaxseed oil, has been linked to lower lipid levels and reduced blood pressure in individuals with high cholesterol. However, flaxseed oil requires refrigeration as it is very sensitive to heat and can oxidize quickly. Since it has a low smoke point, it should be avoided for high heat cooking such as frying and roasting. 

Smoke point: 225°F

Best suitable for: Salad dressings and drizzling

Coconut oil

A staple in South Indian cooking, coconut oil is made by pressing coconut meat or copra, dried coconut kernels. Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and it may help improve skin and oral health. It is rich in lauric acid and vitamin E. Lauric acid is used to treat illnesses such as the flu, while vitamin E has antioxidant properties and has been shown to decrease heart disease. *Avoid having coconut in excess. Remember, be extra cautious with the amount if you are prone to heart disease. 

Smoke point: 350°F 

Best suitable for: Stir-frying and sautéing