If you’re confused by all of the healthy cooking oils in the supermarket, don’t be. From almond to walnut, today’s cooking oils offer benefits as well as disadvantages. Just be sure to read the label, check the price, and be willing to experiment. Here’s a primer on the hottest new cooking oils available on store shelves:
- Almond oil – available in both refined and unrefined formulas, almond oil is made by expeller pressing ground almonds. It has a light, mildly sweet flavor with buttery undertones. The smoke point is 420 degrees so the best uses for almond oil are for stir-frying or roasting. Smoke point is the temperature at which the oil starts to decompose and begins to smoke as if it were burning.
- Avocado oil – also available as refined or unrefined. Avocado oil is made by grinding and then pressing avocadoes. It has a rich, full flavor and with a smoke point of 520, it is good for grilling on high-heat and roasting or frying. Avocado oil may be used as a salad dressing, as a dip for bread or in pesto.
- Coconut oil – is white and solid at room temperature but is clear when heated. High in saturated fat content, it should be used sparingly like any other saturated fat until more is known. Coconut oil is creamy and has a buttery flavor. It works great in stir-frying, as a spread or in baked goods.
- Flaxseed oil – is made by crushing brown flaxseeds which removes the healthy lignans during processing. These may be added back to the final product by some manufacturers. Flaxseed oil is high in alpha linoleic acid and has a warm and nutty flavor. Not really a cooking oil since it should not be heated, flaxseed oil can be used with grains or tossed with salads or cooked vegetables. Flaxseed oil should be refrigerated to extend the shelf life.
- Sesame oil – is made from extracting or expeller pressing the oil from sesame seeds. Rich in antioxidants, sesame oil has a light and nutty taste. Toasted sesame oil works well with light sauces, salads, or grains such as rice. The smoke point for sesame oil is 410 degrees.
- Walnut oil – made from dried and pressed walnuts, it contains omega-3 fatty acids. It has a nutty flavor with earth tones and is good in vegetables or cream soups. Smoke point is 400 degrees. Walnut oil must be refrigerated.
Using a new oil can totally change the flavor of a dish and add a new dimension to your family meals. Experiment with smaller bottles until you know if you like the qualities, taste and texture of the new oil. Don’t be afraid to try something new; there’s more to cooking than using vegetable or canola oil!
Source(s): Delicious Living, April, 2015; Cleveland Clinic Heart Healthy Cooking Oils 101, October, 2015; WebMD Healthy Cooking Oils Buyer’s Guide.
Author: Jennifer Even, FCS/EFNEP Educator, OSU Extension, Hamilton County. Reviewed by Cheryl Barber Spires, Program Specialist, OSU Extension.