While walking through your local grocery store’s aisles, you’ll likely pass by lots of different types of cooking oils. As tempting as it may be to grab the vegetable oil (which may contain corn, soybean, cotton, or many other oil mixes), there are some wonderful oil options to try adding to your cooking!
So, what cooking oil should you use? Well, we couldn’t pick just one! While many oils have similar health benefits, like high omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 contents, they also all have their own unique properties. With that in mind, we picked the best oils for baking, searing and frying, and using for cold foods, based on their health, flavor, and consistency profiles.
Virgin Coconut Oil for Baking
Baking is one of the more exacting ways of cooking. If something is a little off, the finished product can turn out wrong. That’s why you need an oil that compliments the other ingredients. We suggest baking with coconut oil, due to its mild and pure flavor which makes it unnoticeable in baked dishes. Coconut oil is naturally smooth and buttery. That’s right, this oil is solid, but like butter or lard! Because of its texture, coconut oil is a perfect candidate for baked dishes such as cookies, pie crusts, and banana breads.
Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are known to help improve brain function in Alzheimer and dementia patients!
Coconuts, along with their oil, are 90 percent made up of about fatty acids! These aren’t just any kind of fatty acids either; they’re Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT), which are known to help improve brain function in Alzheimer and dementia patients! One of the MCT fatty acids, lauric acid, may also kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In addition, coconut oil contains many antioxidants, which are known reduce oxidative stress, too.
This isn’t to say that coconut oil is perfect. Baked goods shouldn’t be eaten all the time, and neither should coconut oil. Compared to other vegetable oils, coconut oil is high in calories and very high in saturated fats. The American Heart Association warns against consuming more than 6 percent of saturated fat in your daily diet.
Refined Avocado Oil for Searing and Pan Frying
Avocados are a popular superfood, known for being high in nutrients and antioxidants. They’re often enjoyed mashed into guacamole or spread onto toast, but their benefits can also be enjoyed through oil! Omega-9 fatty acids, also known as monounsaturated fats, comprise 65 to 70 percent of avocado oil. Monounsaturated fatty acids, like omega-9 fatty acids, may help to prevent type-2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity, improve your heart health, and help decrease high blood pressure. Some studies have also found that extracts from avocado oil, called avocado unsaponifiables, may reduce pain and stiffness in the body.
Monounsaturated fatty acids may help to prevent type-2 diabetes, improve your heart health, and help decrease high blood pressure.
Avocado oil is especially useful in searing and frying due to its high smoke point, at 570°F. An oil’s smoke point is the highest temperature that an oil can be heated to before it begins smoking and releasing harmful toxins. Avocado oil is also useful in recipes, because just like an avocado itself, it has a very slight flavor. This allows you to use it in conjunction with many different ingredients, from mild fish fillets to robust sirloin steaks.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Cold Meals and Adding Flavor
Olive oil can make for a delicious addition to salads or act as a substitute for butter in pastas and other side dishes like mashed potatoes or broccoli. You can even spice up a fruit salad by adding a lime-infused olive oil. If you enjoy wine-tasting with friends, you could try olive oil tasting at a local olive oil store, too! While olive oil can be a great go-to cooking oil, especially for Italian cuisine, authentic extra virgin olive oil tends to have a stronger, grassier taste. This means that its strong flavor can overpower weaker ingredients. Coupled with its middle-of-the-road smoke point, olive oil is great in low-temperature cooking or in adding its one-of-a-kind flavor to completed dishes.
If you enjoy wine-tasting with friends, you could try olive oil tasting at a local olive oil store, too!
Not only does olive oil have great flavor, but it also offers great health benefits! It is made up of 78 percent monounsaturated fats, just like avocado oil. Due to its high concentration of monounsaturated fats, the American Heart Association says that it can reduce bad cholesterol, which can lead to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Along with its fatty-acid offerings, olive oil has over 30 types of antioxidants that are believed to protect against cell damage and slow down the aging process. Some studies have also found that olive oil can help to improve brain function, to prevent bone loss caused by osteoporosis, and to kill harmful bacteria.
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There are a lot of oils out there for cooking. And, knowing the strengths and uses for each can help you get the most out of your dishes. So next time you find yourself wandering around the grocery store, you’ll know why there are so many, and hopefully, which one is perfect for what you want to make!