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Healthiest Cooking Oils

By Eliza Martinez

Your body needs a certain amount of fat to function. Choosing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats instead of trans fats and saturated varieties benefits your brain, heart, cells, lungs and immune system. Substitute healthy oils in place of butter, margarine and lard when cooking. Doing so decreases your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which protect your heart and lower your risk of developing heart disease. This type of oil has a strong flavor that adds a distinct taste to the foods you prepare it with. Extra virgin olive oil has a more intense taste than light versions. Olive oil has a medium-high smoke point, making it an ideal choice for stir-frying and baking. It also works well in marinades and salad dressings. The Cleveland Clinic rates extra virgin olive oil as your best choice for cooking oil.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is an inexpensive but healthy oil high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. With a milder flavor than olive oil, canola oil is also a good choice when stir-frying or baking. Add canola oil to your recipes to help control cholesterol levels, reduce your chance of heart disease and regulate blood sugar levels. Canola oil contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that boost your cardiovascular health.

Soybean Oil

Most vegetable oils are made with soybeans, making them a good source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Its high percentage of polyunsaturated fats boosts your heart health when you eat items prepared with soybean oil. Soybean oil has a medium smoke point, making it a good choice for sauces and sauteing. This type of oil does not have a strong flavor, so it won't change the taste of your food when you use it for cooking.

Walnut Oil

Walnuts are a good source of omega-3s, and using walnut oil when cooking protects your heart and brain and plays a role in maintaining mood and preventing depression. The flavor of walnut oil makes it a good choice for baking. It is also a tasty addition to marinades and dressings, and pairs well with the flavors of vegetables and seafood.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil's flavor lends itself to Asian dishes, such as stir-fries. Its medium smoke point makes it ideal for sauces and baking. Sesame oil is nearly equal in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat contents, which contributes to a healthy heart and a reduced risk of high cholesterol levels. Toasted sesame oil has more flavor, allowing you to use less in your recipes.

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