A visit to your neighborhood grocery store's oil aisle can quickly get overwhelming with so many options. Aside from a few episodes of "Top Chef," you may not be completely in the know about available cooking oils and how to use them. Or, what's the right fit for your diet?
New studies are coming out all the time about what oils are healthy. For example, a recent study from the University of California found that while GM soybean oil lowers obesity, it can be harmful to liver function.
Certain oils can be good for you as they contain necessary healthy fats, according to the American Heart Association. They recommend choosing "oils with less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and no partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats."
Before you head to do your grocery shopping, read below for the best kind of cooking oil you should use for your next meal and the health benefits behind them.
As the main element of the Mediterranean Diet, olive oil is a top contender for best oil to add to your diet. It can help lower cholesterol and a 2015 study found that an extra serving of olive oil can improve memory in older adults.
What to use it with: Olive oil is great for quickly grilling, sautéing, stir fry and roasting foods. You can also drizzle it on dips and sauces or us it to make simple salad dressings. However, keep in mind that olive oil has a low smoke point, meaning it's better for cooking at low temperatures.
Grapeseed oil is processed from the seeds of grapes, usually collected during winemaking. The oil is flavorless and it can be used to prepare foods at high temperatures due to its high smoke point. It's also high in vitamin E and contains polyunsaturated fats like omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, leading to lower cholesterol.
What to use it with: Grapeseed oil is the perfect ingredient to add to your wok if you're whipping up a stir-fry, on the grill and when roasting vegetables.
Walnut oil has incredible health benefits — it has vitamin K to help strengthen bones, heart-and-brain healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Its high price is due to the fact that it's extracted via cold pressing techniques. If you do pick it up, select the unrefined version. It can remain in the refrigerator for one year.
What to use it with: Think of walnut oil as the finishing touch. Due to its deep flavors, walnut oil is best used as part of salad dressings and for adding a nutty flavor to roasted vegetables.
Avocado oil is being called the "new olive oil" by many due to its health and skin benefits. The oil has a slightly green tint when unrefined. The healthy fats in avocado oil are anti-inflammatory and can help soothe inflamed skin. This anti-aging superfood can even be used as a moisturizer and anti-wrinkle solution due to its chlorophyll antioxidant properties. It can be used to cook at high temperatures.
What to use it with: Avocado oil is perfect for overnight marinades with fish and chicken before its grilled. Extra virgin avocado oil can be added to your favorite summer salad for an extra buttery taste.
While there's a lot of controversy surrounding Canola oil, most of the health concerns are unfounded as it has been approved as safe by the FDA. Since it's very low in saturated fat, canola oil falls under the healthy oil category. But there are concerns that certain kinds may contain trans-fats that have been linked to health issues.
If you're concerned about pesticides and trans-fats, experts and nutritionists recommend purchasing cold-pressed canola oil.
What to use it with: Canola oil still reigns king when talking about frying food. With a smoking point of 486 degrees Fahrenheit, it's great for stir-fry and baking.
Coconut oil has taken over the internet as the cure-all of the past decade. But what about for cooking? Coconut oil is higher in saturated fats than butter and could increase cholesterol levels and heart disease risk depending on usage and frequency. Everything in moderation! When purchasing coconut oil, grab the extra-virgin jar to make sure there are no added chemicals.
What to use it with: Coconut oil doesn't have a super high smoke point so it's best to use it for preparing vegetables on a non-stick pan. You can also add it to curries, baked goods and sauces for added flavor.
A staple in Asian cuisine, sesame oil is incredibly flavorful, adding nutty and smoky notes to your food. Made from toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil comes with many health benefits, including boosting metabolism and lowering blood pressure, and it contains healthy fats that help lower cholesterol. And of course, it's loaded with antioxidants.
What to use it with: Stick to using sesame oil for seasoning and overnight marinades as it can turn bitter quickly if exposed to high heats on the stove. Add it to your dish as a finishing touch to add a nuttiness factor. It's great in soups, salad dressings and we hear even as an ice cream topping? We're intrigued.