Vegetable, Canola, and Corn oil are the most popular, inexpensive oils that are used in most household cooking. However, the gourmet cooks and health enthusiasts prefer other choices for taste and/or their healthful benefits.
Cooking experts and home cooks will agree that olive oil is one of the most versatile oils for cooking. Olive oil, as long as it is not overly processed, contains numerous monounsaturated fats and some essential polyunsaturated fatty acids.
“Virgin” and “extra virgin” are considered to be the better varieties of olive oil due to their unrefined and high quality nature. Prone to have a relatively low smoking point, olive oil is best used for medium to low-heat cooking.
Avocado oil is a great cooking oil option. Much like extra virgin olive oil, it is best used when it is unrefined. Avocado oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids and high levels of monounsaturated fats. It is also a good source of vitamin E.
Avocado oil does not have a taste of its own, and it can be used for high-heat cooking as well as stir frying due to a high smoking point. The only drawback with this oil is that it has a higher price tag compared to most other cooking oils.
Among the top picks for nut oils, peanut oil offers high nutritional value. It also has the highest content of monounsaturated fat among different types of cooking oils.
Peanut oil, like other nut oils, is excellent for cooking on high heat due to its high smoking point. The oil also brings an inherently strong taste and the smell of peanuts, which may incorporate well into the cooked food.
Other Notable Mentions
Coconut oil: Best known for its skin and hair benefits, coconut oil has high saturated fat. It is believed to help increase the HDL blood cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”).
Pumpkin seed oil: Derived from pumpkin seeds, this power-packed and rich cooking oil features plenty of nutrients like vitamins E, A, K as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Walnut oil: Just like walnuts, this nut oil is rich in nutrition, including omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
Grapeseed oil: One of the least known cooking oils, grapeseed oil is an important ingredient in hair and skin products. The food-grade version of grapeseed oil is a rich source of vitamin C and essential fatty acids.
Hempseed oil: Also known as hemp oil, this cooking oil is said to contain properties that can improve heart health, reduce cholesterol, promote skin healing, and control metabolism.
Look for the “The Most Common Cooking Oils” article by Amita Vadlamudi on her Aboutamitavadlamudi.org website.