Every day, millions of home chefs reach for their pantry door to grab a trusted bottle of cooking oil so that they might prepare dinner for their families. Cooking oil is not only healthier than butter, in general, but it adds a hearty component to many dishes, from pasta to sautéed vegetables. While cooking oils are very common in stores around the world, it can be hard to choose the right cooking oil for your needs. Here’s a guide to some of the most popular cooking oils and what they are used for, as well as some less-common oils. If you are searching for the right healthy cooking oil, we’ve got the information you need.
What makes cooking oil healthy?
When choosing any ingredient that is used on a regular rotation, such as a cooking oil, you should consider the overall health implications. Oils that are healthy for you are generally the ones that are low in saturated fats. Unhealthy fats can have negative effects on your health, raising your cholesterol levels and putting you at risk of serious medical conditions like a heart attack or stroke.
In general, you should use cooking oils sparingly, even if you opt for the healthiest oil available. How you use your oil also matters. Deep frying and pan frying your food aren’t as healthy as sauteing or grilling your food, or even using an air fryer, because you are cooking with large quantities of oil. Moderation is key with everything, even healthy options.
Olive oil is quite possibly the most popular cooking oil. It is a common ingredient in things like salad dressing and is often used by home chefs for flavorful sautees and stir-fries. It comes in a wide variety of flavors and finishes, from very expensive olive oils that are great for dipping or drizzling to more common varieties that provide a great base for veggies and meat. The good news is that olive oil is probably the healthiest of the common cooking oils, since it has healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants.
Olive oil is also abundant in vitamins, including vitamin E, and has the lowest oxidation rate of any cooking oil. The healthiest olive oil is extra-virgin olive oil, with the ingredient having become a staple in the ultra-popular Mediterranean diet.
Peanut oil is a high-heat cooking oil that has a pleasant, light flavor. It is common in stir-fries and is very budget-friendly. Peanut oil also has a relatively high smoke point, so it is good for searing meat and vegetables. Peanut oil has 18% saturated fat content and contains more than 10% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E.
Made from pressed avocados, avocado oil has gained traction in recent years as a healthy cooking oil option. It has one of the highest levels of healthy monounsaturated fats of all oils and contains antioxidants like lutein, which has been linked to healthy eyes and vision. While avocado tends to be on the expensive side, it boasts a mild flavor that tends to work well with baked goods as well as dishes that are cooked on the stovetop.
A popular option for those who love the flavor of avocado oil is a spray can. This will help ensure that a little bit of oil goes a long way, helping you stay on budget and on track with your nutritional goals!
Canola oil is commonly thought of as an alternative to less-healthy vegetable oil. It has a high smoke point and is very budget-friendly. Canola oil can be used in a wide variety of ways in the kitchen, from frying and sauteeing to baking. It is also high in vitamin E and has a low saturated fat content.
Many canola oils tend to be highly processed, so if you are in search of the heart-healthy benefits that cold-pressed canola oil provides, you would be best off looking in a boutique grocery store such as International Fresh Market.
Chia seed oil
Chia seed oil might not be as popular or widely used as olive oil or canola oil, but it is rapidly gaining traction as a healthy cooking oil. It has a light, neutral flavor that is similar to olive oil and has lots of nutritional benefits, when consumed in moderation. Chia seed oil has omega-3 fatty acids, which provide heart-healthy benefits similar to the ones found in salmon. While you should never rely on any one ingredient or cooking oil as your prime nutritional source, including chia seed oil as part of your healthy lifestyle could provide a long-term boost to your health.
Coconut oil can be used in nearly everything, from hair masks to vegetable sautees. This versatile ingredient is solid at room temperature, meaning it isn’t ideal for use in cold dishes or salads, but it melts when heated – making it a great option for recipes that require you to roast or sautee veggies and meat. Coconut oil is a form of saturated fat, so it is best consumed in moderation, but many people love the mild, tropical taste that coconut oil lends to dishes.
Sesame seed oil
Sesame seed oil is another healthy option that features a delicious, nutty flavor. It is popular for use in Asian dishes, especially stir fries, noodles, and marinades, and contains vitamins E and K. Sesame seed oil is pretty widely available, so foodies all over the world can take advantage of this popular cooking oil when they want to give their dishes a rich, delectable flavor.
Find healthy cooking oils at International Fresh Market
While olive oil is generally considered to be the healthiest cooking oil, all varieties of cooking oil can be a part of a balanced diet. For all of your cooking needs, head to International Fresh Market, your local grocery store in Naperville. We’ve got a wide selection of healthy cooking oils, as well as all the fruits, vegetables, and pantry staples that you need to supply your home and craft delicious meals for your and your loved ones.