Choose the Right Cooking Oils — for Great Taste and Nutrition

CreateTime:2015-03-15 Count:914

Before you reach for that stick of butter when sautéing veggies, consider a healthier alternative. Cooking oil, a tasty addition to many dishes, can be healthier than butter and other solid fats and add flavor. With so many vegetable oil and nut oil flavors to choose from, you'll never run out of healthy cooking options.


Choosing Nutritious Oils

Most liquid cooking oil is a better option than butter or margarine, but some types of cooking oil are healthier than others. What makes a cooking oil healthy or unhealthy is the amount and type of fat it contains. Healthy cooking oils are high in monounsaturated fats, which are some of the healthiest types of fats and may help lower blood cholesterol levels. Cooking oils may also contain polyunsaturated fats, which are also healthy and can help improve heart health.


Start your cooking oil selection with plant-based oils like:

Olive oil

Peanut oil

Canola oil

Sunflower oil

Soybean oil

Flaxseed oil

Corn oil

Avocado oil

Next choose from a variety of seed- and nut-based oils, many of which make tasty bases for salad dressings and marinades, including:

Almond oil

Hazelnut oil

Sunflower oil

Grapeseed oil

Peanut oil

Sesame oil

Walnut oil

Cut Back on Unhealthy Cooking Oils

Some oils contain higher levels of saturated fat, which is considered the "bad" or unhealthy fat because it can clog arteries and lead to high cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease.


Avoid these oil varieties, some of which are so high in saturated fat that they have more of it than some meat sources:

Coconut oil

Palm oil

Palm kernel oil

Safflower oil

In general, keep the amount of saturated fats you eat to a minimum; check the labels before you buy any cooking oil to see what types of fat it contains. You also want to avoid any oil-based products with trans fats and hydrogenated oils — even worse for you than saturated fats.


How to Use Cooking Oils

Certain types of cooking oil are best when used for specific styles of healthy recipes, or when you're preparing certain foods. Think about the flavor of the oil, and consider what it might best complement. For instance, nutty cooking oils go well in rich pasta dishes with grilled meats, while a lighter olive oil is a good complement to fish sautéed with herbs. Sesame oil tastes great in an Asian-inspired dish and lightly drizzled on top of an Asian salad.


Healthy Alternatives to Cooking Oil

You don't always have to cook in oil — there are other options that are even lighter and healthier. Try these alternatives:


Lightly coat your pan with cooking spray rather than adding liquid oil

Bake by wrapping food in parchment paper or aluminum foil to steam it and keep it moist

Use broth, such as a low-sodium vegetable, beef, or chicken variety, as a cooking medium and sauce base

Steam food above boiling water

Season food with lemon juice for a citrusy flavor

Marinate or cook with balsamic vinegar for a tangy, rich flavor

A variety of heart-healthy cooking oils can give your meal great flavor. Experiment with light sautés or marinades; if you avoid frying foods or using heavy amounts of oil, nut or vegetable oil adds taste and valuable nutrition to any meal. Just. And remember: A little oil goes a long way.

Source: Everyday Health


Copyright © | Bor S. Luh Food Safety Research Center  of Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2015