The Good Oils

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, it is one of the highest levels of monounsaturated fat among plant based cooking oils, at around 50%. This makes it less prone to oxidation than polyunsaturated oils; it is liquid at room temperature and pale green in colour.

Health Benefits

Unrefined avocado oil tastes of avocado; it contains phytosterols (these lower LDL cholesterol). It is also a great source of omega-9 fatty acids, the antioxidant vitamin E and lutein (good for eye health). Consuming this oil raw such as in a salad dressing, in cold-pressed form, will increase the benefits as cooking can destroy some of the nutrients.

Uses

Avocado oil can withstand high cooking temperatures; it has the highest smoke point of all plant-based cooking oils. This makes it suitable for sautéing, grilling and roasting. Unfortunately, with prolonged exposure to high heat you will lose the rich, buttery flavour and also the vitamin E.

A fantastic all round oil this is one I would definately have in the pantry as it is so versatile with a wonderful taste.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has grown in popularity in recent years and is often claimed to be a super food. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find sufficient documented research to support this. There have been some studies although nothing conclusive.  Coconut oil consists largely of saturated fat, making it solid at room temperature. It is white in colour and tastes of coconut.

Benefits

If using coconut oil opt for a high quality virgin coconut oil with no other additives. Virgin coconut oil is made without the use of chemicals, therefor more desirable than standard coconut oil. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which we all require, although should be used sparingly. It contains vitamin E, but no fibre and little or no other vitamins or minerals.

Uses

This is a great oil to have in the home; it can be used for cooking (sparingly) and skin care. It can give baked veggies a wonderful tropical coconut taste, used in baked goods instead of shortening gives a subtle tropical taste and smell and is a great alternative to butter for vegans.

Coconut oil can be used for removing makeup or for extremely dry skin on feet or the body as it is absorbed reasonably quickly and it’s natural.

Coconut oil is a great all-purpose oil with a lovely tropical scent, versatile and relatively cheap. It is a great option to have in your pantry.

Macadamia Oil

Macadamia oil is a clear light yellow and is liquid at room temperature. Its mild flavour makes macadamia oil a good choice for baked goods or as a base for salad dressings. The oil is obtained from pressing macadamia nuts, which are native to Australia. It can be used in cooking and health and beauty applications.

Benefits

Macadamia oil is rich in nutrients and includes healthy fatty acids and potassium. It has high levels of monounsaturated fats, and is a source of antioxidants. It contains vitamin E, which studies have shown may help protect against cancer and other health conditions.

Uses

With a higher smoke point than many other oils it is perfect for sautéing, roasting and grilling. Macadamia oil is a great alternative to olive oil on salads and cooking or baking, with its mild taste it will not dominate the flavours. As with olive oil it can be used for the hair and skin and rubbed into dry areas of the body to alleviate itching and dry rough skin.

Macadamia oil is another versatile oil with multiple uses a high smoke point and mild flavour. Definitely a good stand by in place or instead of olive oil.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

There are a number of different olive oils and these I will go over in another article. There is cold pressed olive oil and regular olive oil, virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil and olive oil. Regardless of which olive oil you use they all have some healthful nutrients and vitamins within them. The most beneficial of all the olive oils is cold pressed either virgin or extra virgin. Cold pressing makes olive oil without the use of heat or chemicals. It is generally a green colour and is liquid at room temperature.

Benefits

Olive oil is virtually all fat, however it is many unsaturated fat which is incredibly healthy. It has vitamins E and K, and contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. With potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and beneficial plant compounds it is a very healthy oil. Some of the health benefits claimed by using olive oil are reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes, improved blood sugar levels. It may also help prevent mental decline associated with aging.

Uses

Virgin and extra virgin olive oil are best used for uncooked or cooking at low to medium temperatures. Refined olive oil is a better choice for high heat such as frying. It can be drizzled over salads, cooked vegetables and pasta, used in marinades and sauces or used instead of butter on bread. Olive oil can be used when baking. Using it when baking reduces the amount of saturated fat, use light or mild olive oil as they can withstand the high heat and have a milder taste.

Olive oil can also be used on the skin and hair as a beauty treatment or to treat extremely dry skin. So a great all rounder oil with multiple health benefits.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is made from raw, pressed sesame seeds and has culinary, medicinal and cosmetic uses. It is pale yellow with a distinctive aroma and taste and is liquid at room temperature.

Benefits

Sesame oil has 2 very powerful antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used in Taiwanese medicine for centuries. It comprises mostly unsaturated fatty acids, is rich in omega-6, which plays a role in heart health. Some research has shown in may help with arthritis, blood sugar control, wound and burn healing and topical application may help relieve pain.

Uses

Sesame oil adds a delicious nutty flavour to a variety of dishes and is frequently used in Asian and Eastern cooking and cuisine. It can be used in stir-fries, marinades, dressings and sauces or dips. Unrefined sesame oil is best used for cooking at low temperatures. Refined sesame oil has a more neutral flavour and better for deep frying or stir-frying. Toasted sesame oil is perfect for dressings and marinades with its delicate flavour.

An oil with many healthy benefits that can be used raw, for cooking or topically.

Summary

This is a basic knowledge of the uses and health benefits of the 4 most easily obtained oils that are healthy and not heavily processed. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the healthy oils available, there are many more out there although some may be difficult to obtain or are expensive. If you would like more information I recommend doing a little research of your own to decide which oils suit your lifestyle and cooking habits and may give you the best health benefits.

There are many, many oils available, although I would personally not recommend or use a lot of them due to the high processing that goes into making them or the dubious growing techniques. Do your research and read the labels this will help you make better-informed choices for your health and that of your family.

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Creative wanderer