Healthy Cooking Oil – Are All Oils Created Equal?
Oils provide essential nutrients and therefore are recommended by dietitians to eat in small amounts regularly. Here’s a list of healthy cooking oils that you can use every day for cooking and when you make salads.
I hate to say it, but I love cooking with oil. Adding a bit of oil into my frying pan ensures that the spices I’m using are absorbed into the food. Oil makes those delicious deep fried foods that are so tasty, such as Cordon Bleu, French fries, and chicken fried steak.
If only it wasn’t so bad for my health!
Oil is incredibly high in calories, and you’ll get well over 100 calories in just a single spoonful of the liquid. That means that I have to add at least 100 or 200 calories to every meal I make, simply because of the oil. I’ve had to stop frying my food, and I’m considering starting to poach, broil, and grill most of what I eat just to get away from the oil problem.
I’ve done my homework to find some healthy cooking oils, and I’ve found there are a few options still left to a dieter like me.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is the oil that health experts have been promoting for years, as it’s great for lowering your cholesterol levels, it has the good fats you need, it fights heart disease, and on and on it goes. But does YOUR olive oil provide all these benefits?
Fun Fact: Treat your olive oil like you treat your wines. Find olive oil that tastes “harmonious”, “rotund”, or “stringent”. Being an olive oil snob can be fun!
It’s only the extra virgin olive oil that will do all these wonderful things, but extra virgin olive oil is very expensive, and not as readily found as you might think. Go to your kitchen and see if the olive oil you use has the label “Extra Virgin” on it. If it doesn’t, it’s an oil like any other.
In Extra Virgin olive oil, there is an antioxidant called DHPEA-EDA, which is known to fight off bad LDL cholesterol, regulate your blood sugar levels, and protect your heart.
One tablespoon of olive oil has:
- 120 calories
- 2 grams of saturated fat
- 12.7 grams of unsaturated fat
Olive oil has a smoke point of 375 to 450 F, which means that it is best used for salads and dressings. It can’t get too hot, or the oil will start to form carcinogens — cancer-causing cells. Olive oil is definitely the most expensive of the oils, but it’s the best to eat in its natural form.
Did You Know: Olive oil has a different flavor according to the country it comes from? The Spanish oil is golden in color, and has a nutty or fruity taste. Italian oil is usually a dark green and tastes a bit grassy. Californian oil is light-colored, and tastes fruity. Greek oil has a powerful smell, and it’s a dark green. French oil is paler than the others, and is usually milder than the others.
Have you ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant? Did you notice how their food has so much more flavor than the food you cook at home? That’s all thanks to the peanut oil they use for cooking. Peanut oil is the most commercially available oil, so it’s used by almost every restaurant.
One tablespoon of peanut oil has:
- 120 calories
- 1.5 grams of saturated fat
- 10.5 grams of unsaturated fat
With a very high smoke point of 450 F, peanut oil is usually used for frying, stir frying, and deep frying. It has less saturated fat than olive oil, and it adds a delicious flavor to anything you cook with it!
Chinese and Japanese dishes are usually cooked with this oil, so it brings back memories of my young days growing up in Japan. The oil is very strongly flavored, and I use it every time I whip up a batch of Beef Broccoli, Yaki Soba, or General Tsao’s chicken.
Did you know that sesame seed oil also has antioxidants that can help to fight high blood pressure?
Lifehack: If you don’t mind smelling like a kitchen, apply some sesame oil to your face and skin. It will moisturize your skin, repair it, and prevent further damage thanks to the many acids in the oil.
One tablespoon of sesame oil has:
- 120 calories
- 1.9 grams of saturated fat
- 11 grams of unsaturated fat
It has a high smoke point of 450 F, so you can use it for cooking any food!
Yep, that slimy green fruit that comes from the tropics can be made into a surprisingly awesome cooking oil! The oil is a dark green in color, but it is rich in Vitamin E (a skin-nourishing vitamin). Surprisingly, the oil doesn’t taste like the fruit, but it has almost the same flavor as olive oil.
Avocado oil is used in many skin care products, but it’s also great for cooking!
One tablespoon of avocado oil has:
- 120 calories
- 2 grams of saturated fats
- 12 grams of unsaturated fats
What makes avocado oil so awesome is that it has the highest smoke point of any oil — 520 F! You can cook with the oil, and you’ll never need to worry about it going carcinogenic on you.
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