What are the healthiest cooking oils?
Fats often get a bad reputation. But despite what you may have heard, fats are an essential part of a well-rounded diet. Fat is linked to many crucial health functions and benefits, such as giving your body energy and supporting cell function. While we do not need to eat a ton of fat, we should prioritize making the fat that we eat the highest quality possible! So, which oils are the healthiest to incorporate into your diet? We’ve listed our top three favorites below. The most important thing to consider when choosing an oil to cook with is its smoke point or the temperature at which the oil starts burning. When you heat an oil past its smoke point it can lose flavor, and nutrients, and even release harmful molecules called free radicals.
Possibly the best of the bunch and one oil you should definitely be incorporating into your diet is extra virgin olive oil . The smoke point of olive oil is approximately 350°F (176°C), which makes it good for low-heat cooking and salad dressings. Olive oil has long been the gold standard for cooking oils in kitchens across the globe. This is largely because it’s so versatile. It has a subtle peppery or grassy flavor, and you can use it for baking, sautéing, or cold dressings. One of the reasons olive oil is so healthy is that it is rich in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant. The primary fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which studies have shown may have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, olive oil contains antioxidant compounds called oleocanthal and oleuropein. These may have anti-inflammatory effects, helping prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing. Along with having anti-cancerous properties, research has found that olive oil contains heart-healthy compounds and may help prevent conditions like obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes
The second oil you should consider cooking with is avocado oil. Avocado oil has a smoke point of approximately 520°F (271°C), making it ideal for high-heat cooking like deep frying. It has a neutral, slight avocado-like taste, and you can use it similarly to olive oil. It also has a nutritional composition similar to that of olive oil with a high percentage of the heart-healthy fat oleic acid. Avocado and its oil are relatively good sources of lutein, a carotenoid and antioxidant that’s naturally found in your eyes
Our third oil is flax oil. Now, It’s important to note that this oil has a very low smoke point, so it should only be used for drizzling on salads or making dressings. This rockstar oil is packed full of omega-3 fats, which are great for your heart and brain. The kind of omega-3 fat in flaxseed oil is alpha-linolenic acid (APA), which is the fat you find in plants. Pound for pound, flaxseed oil is the richest source of ALA, that plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, so it's a good choice for vegans or people who don’t want to eat fish.