Cooking oils: Which are the healthiest and how to get the best out of them

We found out what you need to know before reaching for the cooking oil.

The great fat or no-fat debate in cooking has been raging on long enough to leave a lot of us feeling a little confused about what exactly we should be cooking with to keep our food health.

Fatty oils are no exception.

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Stacey Nelson, manager at Clinical Nutrition MGH Nutrition Services, helped us decipher which are the best to choose and how to get all the health benefits out of them.

Canola oil

This oil is low in saturated fat but rich in heart healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats – also known as ‘good fat’.

It also has a relatively high smoke point – the temperature when the oil begins to smoke and break down – which means it’s great for high temperature dishes like stir-fries.

Olive oil

These too are very high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, though are better used for anything that just needs a light sautéing.

Extra virgin olive oil has a light fruity texture and is perfect for drizzling over raw vegetables or using as a dip for breads, vegetables and crackers.

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Sesame oil

Sesame oil is rich in poly-unsaturated fats and thanks to the rich, nutty flavour.

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is high in both mono-unsaturated fat and vitamin E.

It’s also high in Phytosterols which could help manage serum cholesterol levels.

Its high smoke point means it works better if you're frying foods at higher temperatures.

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How to store oils correctly

Over time, oil can break down and degrade. This may result in it losing its nutritious qualities.

To avoid this, oils should be stored in a cool, dark place.

If any of your oils begin to smell bitter or rancid, throw them away.  

You can store oils in the fridge to prolong their shelf life though this can alter the texture somewhat.

It is never a good idea to re-use cooking oil. This is because once it’s been used, it may possibly contain free radicals.

Free radicals have been shown to increase oxidative stress and inflammation in the body and may be linked to increased risk of certain cancers.

The healthiest and safest option is to use new, fresh oil each time you cook.

What are your favourite oils to cook with? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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