March 15, 2013
Growing up, oil meant my Mom’s basic vegetable oil she used for everything. Nowadays we are lucky to have the options of so many healthy oils to use for cooking and dipping – and even for our skin and hair. But with so many choices it’s hard to know what to buy. It helps to know the benefits and uses of each type. Having a variety on hand is a great idea, since some are best on salads and others for high heat cooking. Below we’ll explore nine of the most popular oils.
- Olive Oil – The Queen of all oils and highly prized for its health benefits and delicious flavors. Extra Virgin is the most common, and considered the finest of olive oils.The lower smoke point of olive oil makes it great for sautéing or light stir fries. Most commonly, though, it is used as a finishing oil, on vegetables, grains, pastas and salads. Most cooks don’t use olive oil for baking or for high heat. It is high in mono-unsaturated fat, making it a “healthy fat.” It can range in color from almost clear, to yellow, to almost green – and the taste will change dramatically based on when the olives were picked and what type of olives were used. You can experiment with several types and brands to see which please your palate.
- Coconut Oil – Extracted from coconuts and a favorite of health foodies. Though it is high in saturated fats, there are many health benefits, such as helping to regulate blood sugar, keeping skin healthy and aiding in absorption of calcium and magnesium our. And while somewhat controversial, coconut oil is becoming more popular now and is often recommended in moderation. It’s extremely heat stable and can be used in high heat cooking. It can also replace butter and margarine in recipes. Coconut oil is quite commonly used for conditioning damaged hair, as an oil for body massage, in treating certain skin conditions, and keeping skin moisturized.
- Sunflower Oil –Light in taste and has a high vitamin E content. It’s used mainly for cooking (frying) and in cosmetics. It has a combination of mono unsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and is low in saturated fat.
- Canola Oil – A staple in many pre-packaged foods. It is low is saturated fat and has almost as many monounsaturated fats as olive oil, but also offers omega 3’s which are associated with some positive health benefits like boosting good cholesterol. It can be used for baking and high temperature frying.
- Sesame Oil – Often used in Asian cuisine or mixed with other oils as it has a distinct flavor. It can be used in sauces and as a dressing as well.
- Soybean Oil – Another unsaturated fat that has the added bonus of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s have been said to help prevent heart disease. Soybean oil works well for stir fries.
- Grapeseed Oil – A favorite of many cooks, right up there with olive oil in the health benefit department. Grapeseed oil is said to lower cholesterol and LDL levels plus it’s full of antioxidants, poly-unsaturated fat, and vitamins and minerals. It’s often used in cooking since it withstands a very high temperature and can be used in quick stir-fries which also help the vegetables retain their vitamins and health benefits by not being overcooked. Grapeseed oil is great for dipping and is often used as a carrier oil for essential oils during massage. It makes a great massage oil because of its ungreasy silky texture and little odor.
- Rosehip Seed Oil – This oil is widely regarded for its anti-aging benefits. It can be applied to help prevent wrinkles, reduce scars, regenerate the skin, address UV damage and can also be used in hair for conditioning benefits.
- Argan Oil – Strictly for skin, this “rare” oil from Morocco is said to heal damaged skin and provide luster and vibrant looking skin. Argan oil is another oil that will help strengthen the hair and add shine to it, without greasiness.
It’s great to incorporate many different oils not only into your diet but for skin benefits as well. Remember, all oils for consumption are high in calories. As with everything, moderation is the key. And choosing the right oil, for cooking, for baking or for cold foods, can make all the difference in the quality and taste of the finished recipe. As a beauty bonus for hard-working Moms, a homemade body scrub can be fantastic for our skin and make us glow. Learn how to make one with Sweet Almond Oil here and 2 other surprising beauty products you have right in your kitchen now!