Sorry, Olive Oil. Grapeseed Oil Is Here to Stay.

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IN AN ATTEMPT to pick up some olive oil at the grocery store, chances are you've accidentally grabbed a bottle of grapeseed oil once or twice. The two look nearly identical, often similarly packaged. And, you probably already know how great olive oil is for you, with its heart health and anti-inflammatory benefits. But what about the less-prevalent grapeseed oil?

It turns out that there’s a lot to love about this type of liquid gold, too. High in omega-3s and vitamin E, and low in saturated fats, grapeseed oil can do wonders for your brain and your heart.

Below, dietitians explain the health benefits of this oil replacement.

What is grapeseed oil?

Grapeseed oil is extracted from the leftover grape seeds from winemaking.

“After the juice is obtained, the seeds are separated and cleaned for use,” says Katrina Hartog M.P.H., R.D., director of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Morningside & Mount Sinai West. The oil is extracted via a cold-pressing method or by using an organic solvent.

“It’s a very versatile oil,” says Margaret Brown, R.D.N., from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. It doesn’t have a very distinct flavor and therefore can be used for everything from marinades and salad dressings to sautéing, baking, frying or even deep frying, because of its high smoke point (more on that later).

One tablespoon of grapeseed oil contains 120 calories, 14 grams of total fat and very little saturated fat (approximately 1 gram per tablespoon).

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What are the health benefits of grapeseed oil?

There are many health benefits of grapeseed oil, according to Hartog. Most notable is its high vitamin E content, ranging from 1-53 mg per 100 grams of oil—a higher composition than any other oil, says Brown.

“Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that aids in protecting cells from free radical damage, Hartog says. “It also plays a role in anti-inflammatory processes and immune health enhancement.”

There is evidence that vitamin E can help prevent or delay coronary heart disease and some cancers. That also makes it a good option for skin care, Hartog says—that makes it moisturizing and can reduce damage from UV rays.

Another bonus of grapeseed oil is its low percentage of saturated fat (the bad stuff that can contribute to unhealthy higher cholesterol levels). And it has a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids (90%), particularly linoleic acid and oleic acid, the good stuff that may reduce cholesterol and risk of heart disease and stroke.

Is grapeseed oil good for cooking?

“Grapeseed oil is an excellent alternative cooking oil to canola, olive, or vegetable oil due to its mild taste and high smoke point (about 420 degrees),” Hartog says.

When oils exceed their smoke points (the temperature at which the fat begins to break down and oxidize) they lose their healthy qualities and robust flavor and can become toxic due to something called acrolein.

“When it loses its shimmer and starts sending up smoke, you’ve reached the smoke point,” Hartog says. If the oil has burned, she advises throwing it out and starting the cooking process over.

Compared to other oils, grapeseed oil has a neutral taste profile so it won’t overshadow the other flavors in the dish compared to olive or coconut oils. But, that also isn’t ideal for making flavorful foods depending on what you're cooking, Hartog says.

She recommends buying cold-pressed or expeller-pressed versions of grapeseed oils to avoid any solvent residues in the product.

Are there any risks to using too much grapeseed oil?

Grapeseed oil is safe in moderation. But, like any oil, the calories in it come from fat and therefore should really be consumed in moderation—usually no more than 1 tablespoon, says Hartog.

“Even the healthiest of oils can add up in calories quickly so always be mindful of portions,” says Brown.

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