Why You Should Be Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Avocado Oil
Moderation is key with most oils, but our nutrition expert says these are the two she uses most frequently.
Depending on how well your kitchen is stocked, you probably have at least a few options in your pantry when it comes to oils and fats to use in cooking. And you probably already know that olive oil, a Mediterranean diet favorite, is great for your heart and adds earthy, green flavor to dishes, but what about other oils like avocado oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil? Do these oils have a place in your healthy kitchen?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In my kitchen, I rely on extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. Not all olive oil is the same, so it's really important to choose the right type. Olive oil is sold in three main grades: refined, virgin, and extra virgin. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed or refined type, and it is also considered to be the healthiest type of olive oil. True extra virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, some of which have powerful health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is the best choice for salad dressings and marinades, as well as a finishing oil drizzled over cooked pasta or vegetables. And while olive oil is mostly in savory dishes, it's also wonderful in some baked goods. Its savory flavor balances out the sweetness in olive oil cake and muffins or olive oil granola. Olive oil pairs particularly well with citrus and maple.
One of the most favorable benefits of using avocado oil is its high smoke point which means it's a good choice cooking at high temperatures such as roasting vegetables and proteins. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke and oxidize (break down into free fatty acids) which can result in the release of free radicals. Essentially, free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging.
Another health benefits of avocado oil is related to having a favorable impact on lowering blood pressure. Avocado oil is high in potassium and vitamin E, which keep the blood vessels healthy by eradicating free radicals.
Moderation Is Key with Other Oils
When it comes to vegetable oils like sunflower, canola, and coconut oil, moderation is key. Of all vegetable oils, canola oil tends to have the least amount of saturation fats. It does have a high smoke point which can be helpful for high-heat cooking. However, most varieties are highly processed. There is a lot of hype related to coconut oil, but again moderation is key. You can use it as an alternative when frying foods as it does tend to stay more stable in high heat so it is less likely to break down, leading to less free radicals. It can also be used in baking as a vegan substitute for butter.
While the body does need omega-6s, sunflower oil contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acids which have been found to be pro-inflammatory, omega-3s are found to be anti-inflammatory. Be sure to balance your omega-6s with omega-3s in order to decrease the possibly of inflammation in the body.