Fat is responsible for all those lovely colors, tastes and textures that make the effort of cooking worth it. From golden roast chicken to savory gravies and sauces, fat = delicious. So how do you keep meals tasting great without adding more calories?
It seems they're cold pressing whatever fruits, grains and vegetables they can't get their hands on these days to make delicious oils, which means lots of available options for health-conscious cooks.
Choosing the Right Oil
When looking at different cooking oils, you need to consider a few things. First, how refined the product is, which can affect the content and flavor. Next you need to consider the smoke point in relation to how you want to use it. The Cleveland Clinic recommends knowing the smoke point because cooking above the it can produce toxic fumes and free radicals. As a rule, they say the more refined the oil the higher the smoke point. Oils with higher smoke points can be used to sear foods and deep fry while oils with lower smoke points can be used for baking/roasting and in dressings made without heat.
Lastly, you should consider the fat content of the oil, knowing how many monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (which should make up most of the fat you consume) and saturated fats (which you should be limiting) are in the oil.
Now that you know what components to look for, there are lots of oils to choose from. Here are six of the healthiest oils for cooking to add to your pantry:
Produced from the seeds of the flax plant, this oil is rich is alpha-linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart and brain health. This oil also contains 65 percent monounsaturated fats, 28 percent polyunsaturated fats and seven percent saturated fats. Flax seed oil has been shown to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce inflammation, support cognitive health and even regulate heart beat. Flax seed oil is also commonly found in supplement form, either in a liquid or softgel, and can be taken daily.
Extra Virgin Olive:
A hands-down favorite in kitchens around the world and a staple of the Mediterranean diet, extra virgin olive oil contains 78 percent monounsaturated fats, eight percent polysaturated fats and 14 percent saturated fats. This oil can be used for dressings and marinades as well as baking, roasting or stir frying as it has a medium-high smoke point. Extra virgin olive oil is known to have a light, fruity taste. Olive oil is also cholesterol free and can be used as a topical remedy for brittle hair and nails.
The key component of this oil is gamma oryzanol, which prevents cholesterol absorption. This oil is also rich in omega-6 fatty acids that support the heart and brain. Dr. Mehmet Oz praised rice bran oil on the June 11 episode of "The Dr. Oz Show" for its ability to promote weight loss and lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Lastly, this oil contains a high amount of vitamin E which is rich in antioxidants for immunity and also supports the body's tissues like the skin and hair.
This oil contains 65 percent monounsaturated fats along with 18 percent polyunsaturated and 17 percent saturated fats with a sweeter scent and light taste. It also contains vitamins A and D as well as protein and amino acids. Because this oil has a high smoke point, you can use it to sear foods or even fry them -- although that doesn't make fried food totally healthy. Avocado is also a commonly used oil to soothe dry, irritated skin and ease inflammation.
While this oil is high in saturated fat, about 92 percent with six percent monounsaturated and two percent polysaturated fats, there are still health benefits to using this oil. The saturated fat has been shown to come from lauric acid, which is known to raise "good" (HDL) cholesterol. Coconut oil has been proven effective in reducing weight and treating conditions like ulcers as well as skin conditions. Derived from the meat of mature coconuts, it's best used to sauté or in any other cooking applications that only require low heat.
Peanut oil contains 48 percent monounsaturated fats, 34 percent polyunsaturated fats and 18 percent saturated fats. It's also rich in antioxidants and vitamin E. This oil can also be used for baking, roasting or stir-frying, with a medium-high smoke point, and has a nutty flavor. Because it can be heated to such a high temperature, less oil is absorbed into food when fried. The taste of the oil is nutty but light, so it won't make everything taste like peanuts.
Canola, soybean and corn oils are also great ones to look into. No matter which oil you choose, you will be making a more heart-healthy choice when cooking.
Don't Overdue It
Just because an oil contains healthy components does not mean you can pour it on too thick. Follow serving sizes to make sure you're staying within your desired calorie range and to keep foods from being greasy. To prevent pouring too much into the pan, you can buy a misting bottle at cooking supply stores or even apply some oil to a paper towel and rub onto the surface before using.
When it comes to cooking, variety is the spice of life. So mix and match to keep cooking fun and most of all, healthy!
Products you may like:
Now Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil Why you may like this product? This cholesterol-free oil is
perfect for roasting and
baking. Now's product is 100
percent pure without
preservatives, additives or
chemicals. Try using it in a
marinade for a heart-healthy
eVitamins Organic Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil Why you may like this product? Our coconut oil is cold
pressed and unrefined. This
high grade virgin oil is
organic, gluten free and great
for vegetarians. You can use
it to saute vegetables as part
of a healthy diet.
Now Foods Organic Flax Seed Oil Why you may like this product? This oil is produced from
cold-pressed seeds and is rich
in omega-3 fatty acids. You
can use this oil in dressings
and sauces as a base or add it
to a blended drink or mix it
into prepared foods.
5 Ways to Add Flaxseed to Your Diet You know the phrase, "big things come in small packages"? Well, that applies to flaxseed. These tiny seeds have a high nutritional content that can aid with improving many aspects of your overall health and wellness, so read on for suggestions on adding them to your diet.
The Best Borage Oil Supplements to Try Now Borage oil is rich in omega-6 essential fatty acids with numerous health perks. Learn more about the benefits of borage oil and what makes these five supplements such top sellers.
A Look at Flaxseed Oil vs. Fish Oil With omega-3s in the news again this week, many are looking for the
best way to get more of them. Dr. Matthew Marturano examines flaxseed
oil and fish oil, two of the most common supplemental sources of
omega-3 fatty acids and their health benefits.
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