Alternative Cooking Oils + Their Health Benefitsby Patricia Noonan
published December 03, 2012
Offerings rich in healthy fats
We all need fat in out diet, but the highest heart-healthy fat content comes from plant-based oils. Plant sterols, a.k.a. phytosterols, are naturally found in plant-based foods and the oils from these sources are healthier options compared to other oils like canola or corn. Think of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil… and then switch it up a bit in the kitchen! Below, five welcome additions to your pantry.
Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is high in antioxidant vitamin E, which protects the body from free radical damage. Another antioxidant, Gamma Oryzanol, can actually help lower cholesterol, making this a fave cooking oil even for talk show host Dr. Oz. Quite light in texture and flavour, it’s perfect for low absorption frying.
If you love the buttery texture of avocados, then this is for you. It’s another culinary option to provide antioxidant vitamin E, plant sterols, chlorophyll and fancy carotenoid compounds like lutein, alpha and beta carotenes. While it has a high smoke point, the buttery flavour makes it ideal drizzling oil for potatoes and veggies.
If you don’t like adding seeds to your salads or snacks, try pumpkinseed oil. One of the latest omega 3 darlings to grace the table, this oil has high antioxidant levels, fatty acids and other ‘cool’ compounds which assist in reducing inflammation in the body. Inflammatory fighters include vitamin E, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, phytosterols and delta-7-sterine with many health boosting benefits to explore. Use for salad dressing and drizzling.
Grapes are not just for wine production and raisins! Grapeseed oil is a rich source of flavonoids, and linoleic acid—an omega 6 fatty acid—along with vitamin E. All polyphenols, including flavonoids, offer numerous health benefits. As potent antioxidants, they have disease fighting factors going for them. Grapeseed oil is an excellent all purpose oil for sautéing and stir-frying due to the high smoke point and light taste, but also boasts a milder taste and texture, perfect in a salad dressing.
Walnuts are one of the most beneficial nuts to eat, so it follows that walnut oil packs great health benefits. Walnuts are phyto-nutrient rich, with an excellent source of selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. Walnut oil, like walnuts, provides high levels of vitamins B1, B2 and B3, as well as vitamin E and niacin. It’s best used as a condiment or in dressings instead of cooking as it has a rich nutty flavor, and eating it can cause a bitter flavour to develop.