Your ultimate guide to the healthiest cooking oils
Confused over the healthiest oil to use in cooking? Heres all you need to know. By Juliette Kellow
All oils contain around 100 calories and 11g of fat in a teaspoonful. But the type of fat they contain can differ dramatically...
The lowdown: More than three quarters of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated, the type that lowers LDL or ‘bad' cholesterol. Extra-virgin olive oil is also packed with antioxidants called polyphenols that may protect against heart disease and certain cancers.
How to use it: Heating impairs the taste and aroma of extra-virgin olive oil (made from the first pressing of the olives), so it's unsuitable for cooking at high temperatures, but perfect for dressings, dipping and drizzling.
The lowdown: Packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, it contains half the saturated fat of olive oil. In fact, it has the lowest saturated fat content of all oils - just seven per cent. It's also a useful source of antioxidant vitamin E. Unlike many other oils, it also contains some omega-3 fats.
How to use it: With little flavour and the ability to be heated to reasonably high temperatures, this is a good all-round oil that's suitable for all sorts of dishes, including stir-fries and roasts.
The lowdown: Made from the seeds of grapes, it contains omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, essential fats that the body can't make and so need to be supplied through diet. Grapeseed oil is also a useful source of antioxidants, which can help fight free-radical damage that can lead to disease.
How to use it: Grapeseed oil can be heated to really high temperatures, making it a good choice for frying, stir-frying and sautéeing.
The lowdown: Loaded with polyunsaturated fats, it's also the best source of vitamin E of all the oils. But some studies have shown that a harmful compound, linked to heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease, can form when oils with a high omega-6 fat content are repeatedly heated.
How to use it: Sunflower oil is inexpensive and very versatile. It can be heated to high temperatures, so is good for frying and roasting, but only use the oil once to avoid those harmful compounds from forming.
The lowdown: Made from the germ of the corn kernel, more than half of the fat in corn oil is polyunsaturated fat, most in the form of linoleic acid, also known as omega-6 fat. Corn oil is also naturally rich in plant sterols, compounds that have been found to lower cholesterol.
How to use it: Corn oil can be heated to high temperatures and so is good for frying. But, like sunflower oil, due to its high omega-6 fat content it shouldn't be heated more than once.
The lowdown: Made from peanuts, this oil is unsuitable for anyone with a nut allergy but is a good heart-healthy choice for everyone else, as over half the fats are monounsaturates. Also a reasonable source of vitamin E, needed for strong immunity and wrinkle-free skin.
How to use it: Groundnut oil can be heated to high temperatures and so is good for stir-frying, frying and roasting.
The lowdown: Linseed oil is made from flaxseeds (it's often called flaxseed oil). It's uniquely loaded with an omega-3 polyunsaturated fat called alpha-linolenic acid, which makes it a good choice for vegetarians or people who don't eat fish.
How to use it: Linseed oil isn't suitable for using in cooking, so try it in salad dressings. Store it in a cool, dark place, too, and don't think you can keep it forever - unlike other oils, linseed doesn't last for long.
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