Contrary to popular belief, the words ‘healthy’ and ‘oil’ can actually go together. There are so many options but do you know what’s the best cooking oil? Read on to learn more about the healthiest ones.
Olive oil is the greatest source of monosaturated fat. Olive oil is 100% natural and preserves the aroma, taste, properties, and vitamins of the olive fruit. Unlike other oils, olive oil can be consumed as it is, that is, freshly pressed from the olive fruit.
Types of olive oil
There are four varieties of olive oil:
Extra virgin – The oil that is derived from the first pressing of the olive fruit is referred to as extra virgin olive oil. This type of olive oil is extracted without using any chemicals or heat and contains no added flavors. In other words, extra virgin olive oil is closest to its natural state, that is, olive fruit.
Virgin – The oil derived from the second pressing of the olive fruit is referred to as virgin olive oil.
Pure – This type of oil involves some processing such as filtering and refining. In many countries including the U.S., pure olive oil is labeled as ‘olive oil’.
Extra light – This type of oil undergoes the maximum processing, and that is why extra light olive oil only retains a very mild olive flavor.
The closer the olive oil is to its natural state, the more beneficial it is for health. That is why it is always best to use extra virgin olive oil, as it contains the highest number of antioxidants such as vitamin E and phenols.
Health benefits of olive oil
Various studies show that olive oil offers protection against cardiovascular disease as it controls Low Density Lipoprotein (commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol) and increases High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (commonly referred to as “good” cholesterol) levels in the blood.
Olive oil also offers protection against gastritis and ulcers since it activates the production of bile and pancreatic hormones, which help in reducing the frequency of gallstone formation.
Olive oil contains:
A tablespoon of olive oil includes 14% saturated fat, 12% polyunsaturated fat, and 74% mono unsaturated fats.
Olive oil has a low smoke point, so make sure you do not use olive oil for any recipe that calls for deep frying over a high heat. Plain olive oil will smoke less than virgin olive oils. The 250°F-325°F range is a safe guideline when heating food in olive oil. Smoke resulting from frying over high heat is never good, and olive oil decomposes under extreme heat. This results in dangerous molecules replacing natural antioxidants. The value of olive oil can be compromised, because, when overheated, the oil releases carcionogenic free radicals.
So the next time you think about cooking with olive oil, do not hesitate: Just remember not to turn up the heat too high.
As the name suggests, flaxseed oil is derived from flaxseeds. Various studies confirm that flaxseed oil is a very good source of Omega-3 and Omega-9 essential fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is also rich in protein, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorous, copper, lecithin, and lignan.
Health benefits of flaxseed oil
Flaxseeds are good for nearly all the systems in our body including the immune system, nervous system, and the cardiovascular system. Owing to its all-round health beneficial properties, flaxseeds are regarded as a very important health-supporting supplement.
Flaxseed oil is one of the most important sources of lignan, a compound that helps cure breast and colon cancer. Additionally, flaxseed oil provides protection against cardiovascular disease, as it helps in reducing cholesterol levels and controlling blood pressure.
The dietary fiber present in flaxseed oil provides relief from constipation. Another health benefit of flaxseed oil is that it helps ward off skin problems such as eczema and acne.
Coconut oil is finally beginning to get the respect it deserves as a smart alternative to other oils. For centuries many tropical countries been using coconut oil in cooking. There has been a lot of bad misinformation out there about coconut oil and saturated fats. In fact, some saturated fatty acids like Capric Acid and Lauric Acid which are present in coconut oil raise the level of High Density Lipoproteins in the body. In other words it lowers Bad Cholesterol. Coconut oil also boosts immunity, fights aging, and increases rate of metabolism Isn’t it amazing? Oil that helps loose weight! So, there is absolutely nothing to worry about your health while using coconut oil in cooking.
Coconut oil benefits:
- Promotes your heart health
- Promotes weight loss when and if you need it
- Supports your immune system health
- Supports a healthy metabolism
- Provides you with an immediate energy source
- Helps to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking
- Supports the proper functioning of your thyroid gland
Organic cold-press virgin coconut oil is the best as it’s not heated during it’s production.
This is another oil that is gaining popularity. Not only does macadamia nut oil have a subtle, nutty flavor, it has three pluses that no other cooking oil can brag about. All of these pluses promote better health.
First of all it’s more monounsaturated than either olive oil or canola oil, the two top contenders for shelf space in the kitchens of health conscious cooks. Macadamia nut oil is 80 percent monounsaturated, olive oil is 74 percent and canola oil only 58 percent. Monounsaturated oils reduce the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Second advantage is its ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. These little fatty acids keep cell walls healthy, and are usually found in seafood. However, omega-3 is more important than omega-6 because omega-3 seems to reduce risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis. Macadamia nut oil is the only cooking oil with a favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Olive, for instance is 1 part omega-3 to 8 parts omega-6.
Finally, macadamia nut oil has a high smoke point. This is the temperature at which oil burns and develops an off flavor. Since macadamia nut oil smokes at an incredible 389°F it is ideal for sautéing and stir-frying. Unlike olive and canola oils, macadamia nut oil even keeps its flavor at that heat.
Canola oil has a high-unsaturated fat content and because of this specific reason, it is widely believed that regular consumption of canola oil may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Another standout feature of canola oil is that it has the lowest saturated fat content. Canola oil is also an excellent source of alpha-linoleic acid, which is an Omega-6 fatty acid. Our body converts alpha-linoleic acid to EPA and DHA, both of which are very important Omega-3 fatty acids.
Like olive oil, canola oil too has an FDA heart health claim. FDA has approved a qualified health claim on canola oil’s potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Canola oil contains:
A tablespoon of canola oil includes 7% saturated fat, 35% polyunsaturated fat, and 58% mono unsaturated fats.
Canola is an engineered plant developed in Canada. The oil is derived from the rapeseed plant (an excellent insect repellent, by the way.) The rapeseed is a member of the mustard family. Rapeseed oil has been used extensively in many parts of the world, namely India, Japan, and China. Before the rapeseed was genetically engineered, about two-thirds of the monounsaturated fatty acids were erucic acid.
Canola oil is victim to both hype and hoax. To view both the hype and the hoax, visit Snopes.com and type in: “Canola Oil.”
Sunflower oil is extracted from sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil comprises of monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels. It is also an excellent source of Vitamin E.
Types of sunflower oil
There are different varieties of sunflower oil. The most common types of sunflower oil are:
High-oleic sunflower oil – This type is a non-hydrogenated version of sunflower oil and comprises of 82% monounsaturated fat, 9% polyunsaturated fat, and 9% saturated fat.
Linoleic sunflower oil – This type is a partially hydrogenated version and is considered to be the most widely used type of sunflower oil. Linoleic sunflower oil mainly constitutes linoleic acid (a very important Omega-6 fatty acid), and so, it provides more health benefits as compared to other types of sunflower oils. Linoleic sunflower oil comprises of 20% monounsaturated fat, 69% polyunsaturated fat, and 11% saturated fat.
NuSun or mid-oleic sunflower oil – This is another non-hydrogenated version of sunflower oil and comprises of 65% monounsaturated fat, 26% polyunsaturated fat, and 9% saturated fat.
All the three types of sunflower oil mentioned above offer more Vitamin E than any other type of vegetable oil.
Health benefits of sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is believed to posses cardiovascular benefits, as the high oleic acid content and low fat content present in it may help in reducing one’s cholesterol levels. Sunflower oil also provides various skin health benefits and is used in the treatment of acne.