I believe that choosing the right oils and healthy fats to use in your cooking is one of the most important steps in developing healthy cooking habits. The right kind of oils will bring out the natural and delicious flavors of your ingredients. You could end up buying all the wonderful locally grown organic ingredients but if you cook them in wrong oils not only will you ruin the taste but also the health benefits of your ingredients.
The important thing to keep in mind, apart from which oil you’re using, is the specific smoke point of your oil. Some oils burn and smoke at lower temperatures than others, so it’s important to know which is which. But don't worry because there are so many oils to choose from! Here are some of my favorite healthy oils that I use on a daily bases for my healthy cooking.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Probably to no one’s surprise, this is my favorite oil! I love its fruity and delicious taste. I love dipping my whole wheat bread into it before dinner. I love the smell, the color, the taste, and everything about this nature’s gift to us! I use extra virgin olive oil on everything that doesn’t require heat: anything from salads, to dips and spreads and of course for drizzling and finishing dishes.
Not only does this amazing oil taste good but its good for you. Extra virgin olive oil has strong anti-inflammatory components, cardiovascular benefits, its good for bone health, and can help keep you satisfied throughout the day preventing you from snacking. The oil is rich in vitamin E a great antioxidant perfect for fighting against free radicals. It’s also high in Omega 9 fatty acids, which aren’t produced enough by the body.
Extra virgin olive oil has a vey low smoke point of 320°F (160°C). Which means it will burn when heated above that temperature. This will not only ruin the taste of your food but also break down its structural integrity and loose its important health benefits. So, be careful when cooking with this oil. Try mostly adding it to salads and enjoying with anything that doesn’t require heating up the oil.
Light Olive Oil
The term light refers to the oil’s more reserved or neutral olive taste. This is my go to oil when I’m cooking everything from soups to stews, sauces, pasta, rice, meats, and vegetables.
It’s a great way to keep the delicious taste of the olive oil without worrying too much about the oil burning.
Its high monounsaturated fat and Omega 9 levels are essential health components. Like most organic vegetable oils, olive oil is especially heart healthy and it’s great for keeping you on the right track while your dieting. Light olive oil has a smoke point of 468°F (242°C), this means you can have the great taste of olive oil without compromising the taste of your other ingredients. It stands up to the heat and can add great flavor to your everyday cooking.
This is my obsession! I use coconut oil for all my baking. Apart from cooking with it, I also use coconut oil for my skin, my hair, and even with my sunscreen for easier application. However, since the smoke point is fairly low, I only use it in baking that requires 350°F, (177°C) and lower.
Coconut oil has plenty of healthy saturated fats, which are great for “good cholesterol” (HDL). It’s also a great immune system booster because of all the “lauric acid” that has natural antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. Coconut oil is good for your brain activity, your energy levels, your heart, the list goes on!
You don’t have to worry about keeping track of all this information, I do all the research and all my recipes follow all of these healthy guidelines so you won’t have to.
Everyone loves avocado and avocado oil is fantastic too! It may be a bit more on the expensive side but its worth it because of all the natural health benefits. Avocado oil, like most of the organic vegetable oils in this list, is very heart healthy. However, unlike the other oils, avocado oil is specifically good for eyesight because of a pigment called “lutein” which functions as an antioxidant and benefits eye health.
Avocado oil has a very high smoke point of 520°F (271°C). This means it’s great for searing meats, vegetables, and baking when the oven temp needs to be towards the higher side. I don’t do a lot of frying but when I need to get something to turn brown in the oven at high temperatures, I mostly use avocado oil.
Talking about sunflowers always makes me smile. I love how they look in my garden during the summertime and who doesn't love sunflower seeds? A handful of sunflower seeds with some almonds are one of my go to snacks. Of course sunflower oil is amazing as well. It’s a great energy booster that will keep you satiated throughout the day stopping you from craving other foods.
Sunflower oil also reduces inflammation in the body that can be caused by processed meats or sugars and it’s great for protecting the body whether from the inside with its immunity boosting properties or from the outside by keeping the skin rejuvenated.
Like avocado oil, sunflower oil is great for cooking under high temperatures. It has a high smoke point of 440°F (227°C) making it perfect for searing and frying.
Almond oil is the mildest of all nut oils but it’s delicious and has amazing health benefits. It ads a gentle nutty flavor to dishes and has a more distinct taste than most oils in this list. Almond oil is densely packed with nutrients that are heart healthy and help maintain your healthy weight. Moreover, almond oil has high amounts of Vitamin E, which like coconut and sunflower oil make it great for skin care and skin health. In fact keeping skin cells healthy and rejuvenated is important and what better way to do so than organic natural oils like almond oil!
Luckily almond oil has a high smoke point of 420°F (216°C). If I’m baking something at a high temperature and want a bit of a nutty flavor I will usually use almond oil. It’s also perfect for searing meets and vegetables.
Grape seed oil
This is another favorite of mine mostly because of how great it is for women. Grape seed oil has amazing health benefits in that it reduces inflammation in the body but also regulates weight levels. In fact it’s especially good for overweight women concerned about inflammation in the body. Plus, the oil is full of vitamin C and E, which are great for the skin and can help make those stretch marks disappear.
It has a high smoke point of 420°F (216°C) so it’s perfect for searing meats, veggies, as well as baking and roasting at high temperatures. Because of its mild flavor I love to bake with it too.
My overall recommendation when it comes to oils is whenever possible choose organic, unrefined cold-pressed vegetable oils, and follow the oils’ smoke point to get the best flavor and health benefits out of them. In all my recipes I take into consideration all of the above smoke points and health benefits to ensure that I make the perfect recipe so you won’t have to worry. Instead you can just recreate them in your kitchen and enjoy with your family, developing your healthy cooking and eating habits.