Nutrition is always in the news: sources telling people which fats are bad, when butters should be used over oils and so on. Bottom line: fats are necessary for the body to operate normally, and an easy way to get our healthy fats is by using cooking oils for anything on the stove. Here are some oils that you’ll find in any grocery store and when to use each one.
Vegetable, in contrast to its name, is not made of vegetables, but a combination of different plant oils such as soybeans, peanut, safflower, coconut, as well as various others. It has one of the highest polyunsaturated fat content, as well as having a high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids. One of the cheaper oils, vegetable oil, has a wide variety of uses. Compared to other cooking oils, it has a higher smoke point, so it can be used for deep-frying without setting off a smoke alarm. It can be used for basic frying, and it won’t impart a strong flavor to the cooked dish.
One of the healthier cooking oils, olive oil, has a lot of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants which are all important for keeping the body healthy. Olive Oil has a low smoke point, so it should not be used for deep-frying, but used more for medium to low cooking temperatures, and it can give the cooked dish a sweet flavor and smell. It also has many uses outside of the frying pan such as combining it with Parmesan cheese, as a salad dressing or for dipping bread.
Often used in Asian countries as a cooking oil and flavor enhancer, sesame oil has natural flavors and aromas that compliment any Asian dish. It can be used at a variety of cooking temperatures, from deep frying tempura items to making a simple fried rice dish. It also has many uses off the stove. One such dish is topping white rice with sesame oil, salt, pepper and seaweed flakes — a great tasting side dish.
Much like the olive oil, canola oil is also one of the healthier cooking oils available, as it is high in monounsaturated fats, low in saturate fats and high in Omega-3 fatty acids. It has a medium smoke point and a light taste and aroma, so it should be used for medium heat cooking, as it imparts very little flavor.