Most people who use oil for cooking use vegetable oil. This oil is inexpensive and can be used over and over as long as it gets filtered. Other qualities that make vegetable oil popular is that it doesn’t have much of a taste and has a high smoking point, which means it can be heated to high temperatures before they begin to smoke and break down. But sometimes a cook wants different, more flavourful oils to liven up a meal. Here are three candidates:
Some people are wary of coconut oil because it is solid at room temperature. This is usually a sign of unhealthy saturated fats, but it does not apply to coconut oil. The fats in coconut oil can actually help the body burn fat. It is high in HDL or “good cholesterol,” which supports cardiovascular health. Coconut oil stimulates the thyroid which regulates your metabolism and increases your overall energy as well as improves gut health. It also has an edge over vegetable oil in that it can soften and hydrate the skin and hair.
Unlike vegetable oils, avocado oil has a delicious taste that makes it just right for salad dressings and mayonnaise. It is rich in oleic acid, which is heart healthy and reduces “bad,” or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. This also contributes to a healthy cardiovascular system. Avocado oil is rich in lutein, which supports the health of the eyes and can lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Like avocado oil, olive oil is derived from a fruit and not a vegetable. Besides monounsaturated fats and fatty acids, it is a good source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant and vitamin K. An antioxidant protects the body against damage from free radicals, and vitamin K is essential in healthy blood clotting. Olive oil is more widely known than avocado oil and is not only delicious but can have different tastes depending on where the tree is grown. Tastes range from fruity to nutty, from very light to robust. This is why olive oil is prized above vegetable oil for salad dressings, vinaigrettes and types of mayonnaise.
With the variety of oils to choose from, the cook doesn’t have to depend on vegetable oil all of the time. Experimenting with different oils is not only healthy, but fun! Each oil brings something different to the table — quite literally.