Cooking Oil Guide

There are so many varieties of oil available to buy at the store it’s hard to know which one is best for your recipe? To help out I decided to break down some common plant oils based on facts, taste and fat breakdown. One thing to remember is a fat is a fat. No matter what type of oil you choose the calories are still from fat so make sure to limit the amount you use. One teaspoon of a plant based oil contains ~ 120 calories and ~14 grams of fat (which means a Tbsp contains ~360 calories, 42 grams of fat). While they are all fat the types of fat they contain range and many contain healthy fat. Remember you want ones that have majority of the fat from monounsaturated fatty acids or polyunsaturated fats (aka Omega-3’s) and not ones that contain a lot of saturated fat.

Now, deciding which oil to buy may not be simple and can range in cost, taste and cooking uses. Lets take a look.

Canola Oil

  • Lowest saturate fat content of any oil.
  • High smoke point which makes it great for many types of cooking including sautéing and baking
  • Neutral flavor
  • Fat breakdown: 28% polyunsaturated fat, 64% monounsaturated fat and 7% saturated fat

Olive Oil

  • High in monounsaturated fatty acids which are great for our heart
  • Good thing to know: If you are using olive oil with heat use a plain olive oil not a fancy extra virgin olive oil with a high price tag. I was told by a chef that cooking it takes away the extra virgin aspect of the olive oil and is a waste of the good expensive stuff. Save fancy Extra virgin olive oils for finishing dishes, dipping or dressings
  • Depending on the type you buy it can range from a mild to a more robust flavor
  • Fat breakdown: 11% polyunsaturated fat, 73% monounsaturated fat and 14% saturated fat

Sesame Oil

  • Contains a good balance of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
  • High smoke point so great for sauteing or stir frying
  • Has a strong flavor that adds a great toasty sesame flavor to any dish (I love to use it for sauteing green beans)
  • Fat Breakdown: 42% polyunsaturated fat, 40% monounsaturated fat and 14% saturated fat

Peanut Oil

  • Like sesame oil, peanut oil contains a good amount of both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
  • Great at high smoke points and a healthier option to deep fry foods as it allows less oil absorption by the food
  • Contains resveratrol, a heart healthy antioxidant thats also in wine
  • Mild, neutral flavor
  • Fat Breakdown: 32% polyunsaturated fat, 46% monounsaturated fat and 17% saturated fat

Coconut Oil

  • High in saturated fat but new research is trying to show that it’s a different type of saturated fat that may be less harmful. This is still under debate so until the research comes out use sparingly.
  • A great substitue for butter if you are baking vegan as it solidifies at room temp.
  • Fat Breakdown: 2% polyunsaturated fat, 6% monounsaturated fat and 86% saturated fat

While not an oil, I wanted to show you butters fat brekadown for comparison: 4%polyunsaturated fat, 28% monounsaturated fats and ~68% saturated fat

Note: The fat breakdown of oils will vary slightly. Numbers for this article were taken from Cooking Light March 2012 “Time for an Oil Change?” article

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