Healthy Cooking Oils to Buy

You should include healthy oils in your diet.

Including healthy oils in your diet is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. Most common oils you probably have on your shelf include olive oil and canola oil. But there are many other delicious and versatile oils you can add to your healthy oil repertoire.

Oil should be used in small amounts.

Healthy oils are included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but in small amounts. Within the Healthy U.S.-Style Dietary Pattern at a 2,000 calorie level, an individual should consume 27 grams per day of healthy oils, which is equivalent to approximately 2 tablespoons.

This oil can come from nuts, seeds, avocado or oils. It should be noted that any oil contains 120 calories per tablespoon. As such, using oil in small amounts is key to reap the benefits of oil and help minimize weight gain.

For example, if you’re sauteing an 8-ounce package of mushrooms, using 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil is perfect. With about 1 pound of chicken breast, 2 tablespoons is plenty to saute it as well. Oftentimes folks use one-quarter or one-half cup of oil to do these tasks, which is unnecessary.

With any oil, the key to using them healthfully is keeping portions under control. Here’s a list of four lesser-known cooking oils you should give a whirl.

1. Avocado oil

Avocado oil is oil pressed from the fruit. It has a mild taste and high smoke point, which means that it works well on the stovetop. Avocado oil is unrefined, which means that it retains some of the flavor and color of the avocado and does have a slight greenish tint. You can also use avocado oil in dressings and marinades or to garnish dishes.

Avocado oil predominately consists of monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to be beneficial for heart health. It’s also an excellent source of lutein, which impacts eye, skin and heart health. Getting enough lutein in your diet may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Lutein has also been shown to help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries, which is how it helps with heart health.

Additional nutrients found in avocado oil include oleic acid, an unsaturated fat shown to help lower blood pressure, and vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps absorb other fat-soluble vitamins.

If you are allergic to avocados, do not consume avocado oil. In addition, if you’re on the blood thinner warfarin (or Coumadin) avocados and avocado oil can decrease the effectiveness. Consult a medical professional before consuming.

Recommended Brands:

— La Tourangelle Avocado Oil.

— Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil.

— Chosen Foods Avocado Oil.

2. Peanut oil

Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil, is made from peanut plant seeds. It has a slightly nutty flavor, but is a nice, neutral option for many recipes.

Peanut oil also has a high smoke point, which means it can be used stovetop and can be used when cooking at high temperatures. It’s commonly used when baking and sauteing. You can also use it to fry, but that’s not a healthy cooking method and should be used sparingly.

Peanut oil is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin E. It’s also an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated healthy fats. Research has shown that replacing saturated fat, like butter, lard and coconut oil, with healthy unsaturated fats can help lower the risk of heart disease. This is also a recommendation that’s found in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

If you or a child you live with is allergic to peanuts, peanut oil may cause an allergic reaction as well. However, it’s uncertain if severity of the allergic reaction to peanut oil will be the same as to peanuts. Choosing refined peanut oil may be safer, while cold-pressed, crude or expelled peanut oil may have a higher risk of an allergic reaction if you have a peanut allergy.

Recommended Brands:

— La Tourangelle Roasted Peanut Oil.

— Spectrum Naturals Hi Heat Organic Peanut Oil.

— Planters Peanut Oil.

3. Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil, made from ripened flaxseeds that have been cold pressed to extract the oil. It has a mild flavor and a lower smoke point, making it best to use in dips and dressing where no cooking is needed.

Flaxseed contains the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. The ALA omega-3 fatty acids are one of the three types of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The other two are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA comes from plants like flaxseeds and is a true “essential” omega-3 fatty acid as we need to get this fat from the diet as our bodies cannot make it on their own.

Although more research is needed, there are some initial potential health benefits of flaxseeds oil.

Similar to flaxseed, flaxseed oil may help lower cholesterol levels. The ALA in flaxseed oil might play a role in decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol. It also may help fight certain types of cancer including lung and breast. Initial research has also linked the consumption of flaxseed oil with possibly lowering the risk of diabetes

Recommended Brands:

— Barlean’s Organic Flax Oil.

— Natural Earth Organix Flaxseed Oil.

4. Safflower oil

This oil is derived from the seeds of the safflower plant and has a neutral flavor. You can find two types of safflower oil:

— High-oleic.

— High-linoleic acid.

Both types contain unsaturated fats. However, the high oleic safflower oil can be used for cooking at high temperatures, while high linoleic safflower oil is better to use drizzled on dishes or use in dressings where no cooking is involved.

Several health benefits of this oil include helping improve blood sugar levels, lowering LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels and also helping to fight inflammation. Research has shown that safflower oil and the unsaturated fats found in the oil improved markers of inflammation.

Recommended Brands:

— 365 by Whole Foods Market, Expeller Pressed Safflower Seed Cooking Oil.

— Spectrum High Heat Safflower Oil.

— Eden Food Organic Unrefined Safflower Oil.

The author has no affiliation with any of the brands she recommends.

4 uncommon yet healthy oils to try:

— Avocado oil.

— Peanut oil.

— Flaxseed oil.

— Safflower oil.

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