February 22, 2017

Ask a Dietitian: Cooking Oils

If you want your question answered by a dietitian and published on our blog, email Maris Harmon at mharmon@mannapa.org.

QuestionWhat is the healthiest oil to use, and which oils should we stay away from?

MANNA Dietitian: Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils to use, because it is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help reduce the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase the “good” cholesterol (HDL). Olives naturally contain antioxidants, called polyphenols, which protect against free radicals. Olive oil is best for low-temperature cooking, such as sautéeing.

Canola oil and sunflower oil both contain polyunsaturated fats, which help improve blood cholesterol levels, reducing your risk for heart disease. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for good health. They both have a medium-high smoke point, which is great for searing, frying, or baking.

Grapeseed oil is another healthy, versatile option. It is rich in polyunsaturated fats, and is a good choice for cooking over high heat (sautéing, roasting).

Avoid using oils labeled as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. These oils contain high amounts of trans-fat. Trans-fats are responsible for clogged arteries, which can lead to heart attacks. Two oils to avoid are corn oil and palm oil, both high in calories and trans-fats.