Choosing a Cooking Oil

by Charlotte Wood
(last updated October 3, 2012)

With today's methods and traditions of cooking, oil is used to cook a good portion of what we eat, but the question is: it that healthy? Are there healthy cooking oil options? The answer is: of course there are healthy cooking oil options! You just need to know the right places to go and you also should have a good idea of what kind of cooking oil your particular dish or meal may need because that varies depending on the dish or style of cooking.

When looking at cooking oil from the healthy side, take a look at the nutrition label and hone in on the fat information. There are "good fats" and "bad fats" when it comes to food and you should know what the good fats are and what the bad fats are so you can take appropriate action when choosing a cooking oil. Try to find cooking oils that are lower in saturated and trans-fats because those are the not-so-good fats. If you can find oils with a higher content of mono- and polyunsaturated fats then you're in a good place. You may need to use cooking oil for many basic cooking needs, but it doesn't have to be so unhealthy!

Now you need to select cooking oil based on what exactly you're cooking. Various cooking oils include: olive, palm, soybean, canola, pumpkin seed, corn, peanut, grape seed, sesame, argan, and rice bran. Wow—that's a lot of oil! And the best part is that all these oils fall under the "vegetable oil" category.

The function of a cooking oil deals primarily with the temperature. The function of an oil may change with temperature and so, depending on what you're cooking, you'll want to take temperature into account before you choose an oil. For temperatures higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit (high frying temperatures) you'll want to consider almond, sunflower, peanut, and soybean oils. For moderate frying temperatures, think about using canola, walnut, sesame, or sunflower oil and don't use olive or corn oil on anything higher than 320 degrees Fahrenheit.

Choosing the right cooking oil actually isn't that difficult and once you know the basics you'll be able to make better decisions in your cooking. Good luck!

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