With so many oils to choose from, selecting the best option can be intimidating – not to mention, the answer of which oil is ‘best’ changes, depending on what and how we’re cooking. To help make things easier than ever, here’s the rundown on four top oils and when to use them, adapted from The Eat Fit Cookbook.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
- Nutritional Profile // High in monounsaturated fats, extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols, compounds with an anti-inflammatory effect that help protect our body’s cells from oxidative stress.
- Flavor // Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives, giving it the boldest, richest flavor of all types of olive oil.
- How to Use It // Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point, so it’s best used for drizzling and dipping and recipes that don’t require much heat, like marinades, sauces, dips, and salad dressings.
- Nutritional Profile // With 70% monounsaturated fats, avocado oil has a nutritional profile very similar to that of olive oil.
- Flavor // Slightly fruity with a very mild avocado flavor.
- How to Use It // Avocado oil has a high smoke point, which means it’s great for high temperature cooking like stir-frying, grilling, and sautéing. It has a pretty green hue and a mild, pleasant flavor, making it a great choice for drizzling or dipping as well as for salad dressings, soups, and dips.
EXTRA LIGHT OLIVE OIL
- Nutritional Profile // Rich in heart-smart fats, with 70% monounsaturated fat.
- Flavor // Extra light in color and flavor, extra light olive oil really has no significant flavor profile at all.
- How to Use It //With a high smoke point, extra light olive oil can be used for baking, sautéing, and frying. Think of extra light olive oil as your new all-purpose cooking oil, taking the place of omega-6 rich vegetable oils like corn or safflower oil.
- Nutritional Profile // Coconut oil contains over 50% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike most fats, MCTs appear to be more easily burned as energy and less likely to be stored as fat. MCTs have also been shown to increase metabolism slightly and help us feel fuller faster. Coconut oil may be beneficial for cholesterol levels, especially when used in place of animal-based saturated fats like butter.
- Flavor // Coconut oil has a distinctly sweet, nutty flavor.
- How to Use It // Solid at room temperature, coconut oil is an easy one-to-one substitute for butter. Use it for low-to-medium heat dishes, adding it to roasted vegetables, soups, and curry dishes and use it instead of butter to fry an egg.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian and nutrition journalist in New Orleans and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles and TV segments at www.mollykimball.com.