Healthy Fats: A Guide to Smart Cooking Oil Choices

olive oil

If you are shunning butter and looking for an oil to use for a variety of different cooking purposes as well as to benefit from healthy fats, the following list will serve you well.

I list three main oils as well as a few others that are incredibly versatile, common and cover all your fatty needs. While I am a personal fan of butter, I find that its cooking temperature is quite low and I have trouble cooking certain dishes in the manner I desire. Oil generally has a higher cooking temperature and thus stretches further than butter in the kitchen. Below are great options that keep you satisfied in the kitchen and still fuel your body with healthy fats.

Oils are generally a better alternative to butter for those trying to avoid saturated fats. However, like anything in life: everything in moderation!

These delicious oils uses stretch far and complement just about any dish you have in mind. Keep your portion sizes reasonable and use just enough oil to get the job done without overdoing it. You’ll know the line when you cross it. With that said, enjoy!

Olive Oil 

Olive oil is one of the most versatile of oils. In its unrefined, raw form, olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fats and phytochemicals. When put up against other fats, extra-virgin olive oil also showed to give individuals a higher sense of fullness. Olive oil is best consumed cold-pressed. This process creates little heat and thus maintains the nutritional integrity of the oil. That means you should avoid “pure olive oil,” “light olive oil,” or simple “olive oil” labels for maximum flavor and nutrition, at least when eating it cold. If you are heating the oil, a pure variation is enough, as using a high-quality oil wouldn’t make much of a difference since the heat will biochemically compromise its nutritional composition anyway.

Best when: raw or lightly cooked.

Canola Oil

This oil is a great source of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which your body cannot make on its own. Canola oil is great for cooking and can resist heat very well. Omega-6 fatty acids are harder to come by, and striking a proper balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is a key to keeping health in check.

Best when: cooking with high heat, saving money

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been written about extensively these days, and for good reason. Coconut is high in saturated fat, but not that kind that will clog your arteries and negatively affect your health. In fact, coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides that are shorter than those found in animal fats. Because of this, your body can metabolize them efficiently and not store them in the body. Other benefits are on account of its lauric, caprylic and capric acid content. Lauric acid fights off bacteria and viruses. Caprylic acid contributes to healthy digestion and balances gut bacteria. Capric acid has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties.

Best when: replacing butter, cooking with high heat, raw, looking for a unique aftertaste

Other Oils

Take your cooking to the next level by using any of the following oils: safflower, avocado, sesame, sunflower, grape seed, and almond oil. These alternative vegetable oils are high in polyunsaturated fats, which can lower blood cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. They may be more expensive, but they are always fun to work with now and then.

Best when: splurging money, looking for a fun alternative

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Photo Credit: horaceko