Nature’s oils are extracted from a variety of sources. Different types of cooking oil have unique flavors, smoke points and nutritional value. So what is the best cooking oil for you?
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
It’s the Italian kitchen mainstay, and it should always be within arm’s reach in your kitchen, too. Extra-virgin olive oil is high in healthy fats and antioxidants, and its savory flavor pairs wonderfully with pastas, vegetables, poultry and fish. When you have olive oil, there’s no need to mess with fancy (and expensive) sauces or rubs for your steaks, either. Pat some extra-virgin olive oil onto your steak with some salt and pepper before grilling, and you’ll be set.
It’s not always obvious what the source of your vegetable oil is, until you check the label on the bottle. Most vegetable oils are derived from soy beans, but they could also be sourced from nuts, seeds and corn. Canola oil is itself a type of vegetable oil that is made from rapeseeds, and either canola or vegetable oil will always serve as a dependable and inexpensive standby in your pantry, should you run out of other more healthy oils. These oils have a very long shelf life, a high smoke point, and they can be used to cook just about anything. However, these types of cooking oils lack the antioxidants that are found in extra-virgin olive oil.
Peanut oil is the best cooking oil for roasting and pan-frying dishes at a high heat. Its high smoke point can handle the blazing temps, and peanut oil also packs a unique, healthful punch. The nutty oil contains phytosterols, which reduce your risk of heart disease.
Very high in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3s and omega-6s, grapeseed oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point. It can be an excellent choice when firing up the wok for a stir-fry, but in-demand grapeseed oil can also put quite the dent in your wallet — so save this oil for special occasions.
Containing a high level of saturated fat, the oil of the coconut remains solid at room temperature, and it makes a healthy substitute for butter in your favorite recipes. Not only that, but coconut oil can be applied to the skin as a moisturizer, makeup remover, and an anti-inflammatory. For all its uses, a jar of coconut oil is a great addition to not only the kitchen, but your home.