The 5 Healthiest Cooking Oils… And The 3 Worst Too!
Oil seems equally lauded and derided, depending on who you ask.
And the fact is, oils are both extraordinarily great for you and not so great for you, depending on the type of oil we’re talking about and even how we’re using it.
Sure, all oils are fats, but:
2. fat doesn’t make you fat, and
So how do you choose the healthiest oil for you?
It’s about the fat and how you use it.
The Fat Truth
There is a huge difference between oils packed with polyunsaturated fats and or monounsaturated fats and, well, all the rest.
Polyunsaturated fats (like in grapeseed oil and walnut oil) and monounsaturated fats (like in avocado and olive oils), are heart healthy and cholesterol balancing. Saturated fats, however, are pretty much the opposite (see here for more info).
Heating It Up
Not only is the type of fat important in finding the healthiest oils, the temperature at which you’re going to be using it matters a lot too.
More specifically, the oil’s “smoke point,” or the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and smoke is key because it’s when an oil hits its smoke point that it beginnings to form unhealthy byproducts.
It’s why, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that oils in grocery stores tell you what heat they’re designed for. Pay attention to those instructions. We’re all about breaking rules here at TheBeautyBean, but that’s one you should follow!
So, without further ado, here are the oils we’re stocking our kitchens with…
The Healthiest Oils
Grapeseed Oil. Grapeseed oil is low in saturated fat, high in polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E, and has a high smoke point, which makes it a great choice when grilling, stir-frying, and sautéing. And because it has a mild, nutty flavor, it works with most marinades and sauces.
Walnut Oil. This flavorful (albeit pricey!) oil is packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and bone-supporting vitamin K. Walnut oil doesn’t stand up to heat, though, so use this nutty oil to add flavor to already cooked foods or dishes you’re serving raw.
Avocado Oil. High in monounsaturated fatty acids, avocado oil helps to support healthy cholesterol levels and even boosts your ability to absorb the nutrients in the food it’s served on. And while avocado oil is a bit pricier than your go-to cooking oils, it does have a high smoke point, making it ideal for high-temperature cooking.
Olive Oil. This is likely the cooking oil you know best – and for good reason! It’s versitle, delicious, and the healthy staple in the Mediterranean diet. While you may be used to cooking with olive oil, though, this oil actually has a pretty low smoke point, making it best for drizzling on salads, cooked vegetables, and grains.
Virgin Coconut Oil. While coconut oil is a saturated fat, not all saturated fats are created equal. Rather, virgin coconut oil is packed with a very specific type of saturated fat: MCTs or medium chain triglycerides. Unlike long chain triglycerides (the kind of saturated fat found in red meat, for example), medium chain triglycerides are metabolized differently so they pose less of a risk to your heart health. In fact, some studies show coconut oil can actually help to reduce high blood pressure, improve blood sugar, and even help boost your metabolism!
The Worst Oils
Partially Hydrogenated Oil. A lot of oils in processed foods are partially hydrogenated, and these are the ones you want to avoid. The reason: they’re super-duper saturated with long chain triglycerides, which are the saturated fats you want to avoid (unlike the medium chain triglycerides found in raw coconut oil, for example). So why are these long chain triglycerides so bad? Well, because they spike your LDL cholesterol (the “bad” one) and decrease your HDL cholesterol (the “good” one) – and the ratio of your LDL to HDL is a pretty good indicator of your heart health – and we all want a healthy heart!
Palm Oil. While it’s mostly found in processed foods, which, in general, tend to be on the less-great-for-you side, palm oil in particular has a high ratio of saturated fat and some studies show it may even raise your risk of heart disease and increase cholesterol levels.
Cottonseed Oil. Not only does cottonseed oil have a lot of the unhealthy kind of saturated fat, it is also often found to contain traces of pesticides, which we most definitely want to avoid!