How to Choose the Right Cooking Oil for a Healthy Lifestyle

In a world where we’re more aware of our general health, people are constantly looking to make healthier choices in the kitchen, and much of this means swapping out the cooking oil you’re using. Where there are several common cooking oils that are used, such as sunflower and vegetable oil, they’re not necessarily the healthiest option. With this in mind, here’s everything you need to bear in mind when looking for a healthier oil to cook with.

Know which oils are best for different cooking methods

In order to make the healthiest choice when it comes to cooking oil, it’s important that you know which oil to use for different cooking methods. Where you might think that one oil for everything is the hea;thiest way to go, you might actually be mistaken. Cooking oils each have different smoke points, so this makes some oils more suitable for cooking than others.

That being said, there are some oils that are better for light cooking and others that are best for frying, for example. Where we don’t expect you to have a cupboard full of different cooking oils, you might be able to find one or two that works for you and your lifestyle. With this in mind, we’ll take you through the different oils that should be used, and when.

The best oils for oven-cooking & stir-frying

Depending on how you like to cook your meals, the following oils might be best for you and your lifestyle. If you prefer oven cooking or frying in general, then some of the best oils you can use for this particular method of cooking includes, but is not limited to, the following:
  • Almond oil – having a very distinctive flavour, it can be quite an expensive oil to buy, but it healthy when used in moderation
  • Hazelnut oil – perfect for delivering a bold, strong flavour, hazelnut oil is perfect for frying, roasting and baking, even at higher temperatures
  • Sunflower oil – high in monounsaturated fats, this is a healthy oil that can be used for most cooking methods, but in small amounts
  • “Light” or “refined” olive oil – when oil is referred to as “light” it’s often talking about its colour rather than it being low in fat or healthy for you, so approach these light olive oils with some caution if you’re looking for a healthy cooking oil
  • Avocado oil – known purely for its sweet aroma and its “good fat” content, this oil is good for a wide variety of cooking methods, but it can be difficult to come by

The best oils for light sauteing, making sauces & low-heat baking

The following oils are commonly used for making sources, baking on low heats and light sauteing. Although these oils can be used in other ways when needed, they’re most commonly used for the aforementioned cooking methods. They each have a medium smoke point, so it can be used for food that doesn’t require a high heat when cooking:
  • Hemp oil – high in omega-3 acids, this is a healthy choice for sauteing and low-heat baking and roasting, although it needs to be kept refrigerated
  • Corn oil – this needs to be consumed in small quantities, because it can be unhealthy in excess amounts, mainly thanks to how rich it is in omega-6 fatty acids
  • Pumpkin seed oil – a form of vegetable oil, it contains alpha-linolenic acid, which is a form of healthy omega-3 fatty acids Sesame oil – this has a rich and nutty flavour and is best kept in the fridge
  • Soybean oil – healthy in small doses, soybean oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and it’s also recommended that you keep this stored in the fridge
  • Virgin coconut oil – again, this should be used in moderation as it contains lauric acid, so much like the other oils in this list, you should refrain from using this in large quantities

The best oils for salad dressing, dips & marinades

The following oils shouldn’t really be used for cooking, but you can make full use of them in other ways, including as a salad dressing, in a tasty dip or as a way to marinade meats, fish and vegetables. The oils you can use for the aforementioned are as follows:
  • Flaxseed oil – a source of alpha-linolenic acid, which is a form of omega-3 fatty acids, this is a healthy oil for dressings, dips and marinades
  • Walnut oil – containing omega-3 fatty acids, much like the flaxseed oil, this too is a healthy oil for use in dips, marinades and dressings
  • Wheat germ oil – an oil that’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids, it’s only considered to be healthy in small quantities and must be kept refrigerated

Be aware of the properties that different oils have

Part of making a healthy choice when it comes to cooking oil is understanding the different properties that they each possess. Some are definitely more healthy than others, and for many different reasons. So that you can see what each cooking oil type has to offer, we’ve summarised their properties below:

Vegetable oil

Vegetable oils are oils extracted from different parts of fruit and vegetables, such as seeds. Much like with animal fats, vegetable fats contain a convocation of triglycerides, which is derived from glycerol and three different fatty acids. Essentially, vegetable oil refers to vegetable fats which, at room temperature, will remain in liquid form.

Olive oil (extra virgin)

This is a flavourful oil that is commonly used for salad dressing and dips. If you use it for cooking, it can enhance the flavour of the food, but you’ll need to invest in high-quality olive oils in order to achieve these results. Since it carries a hefty price tag, people usually reserve extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over the food.

Olive oil (extra light)

You shouldn’t confuse this for its counterpart, because extra light olive oil isn’t as flavourful and it has a very high smoke point, coming in at 242 degrees Celsius. This makes extra light olive oil more suitable for cooking with, such as frying and roasting, as opposed to using it to drizzle over a salad.

Peanut oil

This is an oil that is golden in colour and is commonly referred to as a groundnut oil. It’s thin in consistency, is bland in flavour and has a high smoke point at 254 degrees Celsius. Because it’s not particularly flavourful, people will often choose this to cook with, especially when it comes to stir-frying.

Sesame oil

Although low in saturated fat, it’s preferred as a flavour enhancer, much like extra virgin olive oil. Although it’s not often used to cook with, sesame oil has a particularly nutty aroma, more so than peanut oil, surprisingly. Much like peanut oil, people like to use sesame oil for cooking stir-frys and other dishes that need to be sauteed. Although it should be noted that, because it’s full of flavour, it often carries a larger price tag.

Sunflower oil

This is made up of polyunsaturated fats, which is a healthy fat, along with monounsaturated fats. It’s often found in plant and animal foods, including salmon, vegetable oils, nuts and some seeds. In comparison to other cooking oils on the market, it’s relatively inexpensive and has a smoke point of 227 degrees Celsius. This is what makes it a popular choice for home cooking.

Rapeseed oil

A form of vegetable oil, rapeseed oil is often considered to be healthier than its general counterpart. This is because it’s low in saturated fat and contains a high amount of monounsaturated fat, which is considered to be a good fat. This, along with a high-quality olive oil, is considered by many to be one of the healthiest cooking oils on the market.

Which cooking oil is the healthiest?

In conclusion, and having been through the different properties that each cooking oil has to offer, it’s easy to see that the healthiest oil to choose for cooking is either olive oil or rapeseed oil. There are several different uses for olive oil, from roasting and baking to frying and dipping. Olive oil is arguably the most versatile cooking oil on the market, but it can prove to be quite expensive in comparison to other alternatives.

This is why many people opt for cheaper cooking oils, but they’re not always the healthiest options. Rapeseed oil, on the other hand, is both affordable and healthy, when compared to vegetable and sunflower oil – other popular cooking oil choices. To summarise, if you’re looking for a healthy cooking oil, then rapeseed oil or good quality olive oil would be the way forward.

Cater Oils are pleased to provide waste cooking oil collection services near you. Not only will we collect your used cooking oil, but we’ll also give you cash or credit against our cooking oil supply service, whichever works best for you. If you would like further information about our used cooking oil services, or to talk about how we recycle your waste cooking oil, then get in touch with a member of our expert team today – we’re always happy to hear from you.

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