Use these oils instead of solid fats (including butter, shortening, lard and hard stick margarine) and tropical oils (including palm and coconut oil), which can have large amounts of saturated fat.
Here’s an alphabetical list of common cooking oils that contain more of the “better-for-you” fats and less saturated fat.
Blends or combinations of these oils, often sold under the name “vegetable oil”, as well as cooking sprays derived from these oils are healthy choices. Some specialty oils, such as avocado, grapeseed, rice bran, and sesame, are often the healthier choices, but are likely either more costly or harder to find as a result of their health benefits.
In general, it’s best to choose oils with less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, and no partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats.
You may also discover that some oils have distinctive flavors, so it is definitely beneficial to try the various different types to see which ones interest you most. Because of the large variety of oils available, some are better for different types of cooking, so it is important to keep several of these in your pantry.
You can usually use cooking oils just like solid cooking fats. For example:
- Make your own salad dressings, marinades, dips and sauces.
- Grill, sauté, stir fry, bake, or roast foods.
- Coat pans to keep food from sticking.
- Spread or drizzle on foods for flavor.
- “Season” cast-iron cookware.
- Substitute for butter, margarine, or solid fats in recipes.
Tips for cooking with healthy oils:
The healthier oils listed here are safe for a large assortment of home-cooking uses, including higher temperature cooking such as stir-frying and pan frying. We do not recommend deep-fat frying as a cooking method.
Any oil starts to degrade once it reaches its smoke point. As a result, if you accidentally let your oil smoke or catch fire, get rid of it and start over.
If oil smells bad, don’t use it. When an oil is stored for too long it can become oxidized or rancid. It will have a distinct smell, and you should get rid of it.
Don’t reuse or reheat any cooking oil.
Buy cooking oils in smaller containers to avoid waste, and store them in a dark, cool place to keep them fresh longer.