Coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, oh my!
Our bodies need a variety of healthy fats, many of which can be found in cooking oils. But oils vary greatly. Each has properties that make it suitable for different dishes and types of cooking.
Not sure which oil to use? This guide can help you decide.
If you want to understand cooking oils, you need to learn a bit about fat. Natural fats contain different ratios of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat.
Saturated fats, like the fats found in coconut oil, are solid at room temperature. They’re also stable and resist oxidation, a form of damage to the oil.
Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and they’re usually not the best choice for cooking because they oxidize easily. Safflower and sunflower oil are two examples.
Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature as well, though they tend to be more stable and resist oxidation better than polyunsaturated fats. This type of fat is found in canola oil and in nuts and olives.
Set down the olive oil. There are better options for your next stir fry. Any of these cooking oils are great for high heat cooking:
Some of the oils good for high-temperature cooking are also great for baking. Try one of these next time you make a batch of brownies:
Making your own salad dressings using oil and experimenting with marinades and sauces are fantastic ways to get your healthy fats. The emphasis is on flavor when you’re using oils without cooking them. These oils taste great in dressings, marinades, and dips:
If you want to preserve the nutritional integrity of your cooking oils, you need to store them properly. Heat and light can damage oils, especially polyunsaturated oils. You can keep them in the fridge to maintain freshness.
If your oil starts to smell and/or taste off, it’s probably gone rancid. Throw that oil away, pick up a new bottle, and get back to cooking tasty meals full of healthy fats.