Aug 20, 2013

Oils Ain't Just Oils - Which ones to cook with / drizzle with / moisturise with and why...

There are so many oils you can buy these days that it's no wonder it gets confusing as to which one to buy for what. Olive oil was always the staple in my place, and that has now changed to coconut oil. But what about all the other amazing oils we could get our hands on?

When you're considering trying a new oil, take into account what you want it for - will you be using it for salads or cooking? Do you want a daily body moisturiser that's a little more natural than those creams with ingredients you cant pronounce? Or you just want to know the differences between them all? Whatever the reason, here's your guide to the good stuff.

+ Coconut oil
- Antiviral
- Antibacterial
- Antimicrobial
- Antiprotozoal (anti-parasites)
- Very stable in high heat
- Medium-chain saturated fat
- Aids weight loss
Best for: cooking anything, adding to recipes, body moisturiser, hair conditioning treatment, lubricant, oil pulling

+ Olive oil
-  High in monounsaturated fat; low in saturated fats
- Staple fat/oil in the Mediterranean Diet
- High levels of vitamins A and E
- 'Light' olive oil is no lighter in calories; just in flavour (so ditch it in my opinion)
Best for: dressing salads, use in marinades, cooking at low temperatures, or just dunking sourdough into

+ Sunflower oil
- High smoking point (great for high temperature cooking)
Best for: salad dressings, frying, drizzle over veggies

+ Rice bran oil
- High in long chain polyunsaturated fats and saturated fat
- High in vitamin E
- Safe to use and cook with at high temperatures
Best for: cooking (as it has a distinct flavour) but can also be used in salad dressings

+ Avocado oil
- Full of monounsaturated fats
- Packed with vitamins A, D, E
- Great for your skin health
- Rich source of Omega-9 essential fatty acids
- Strong flavour
Best for: vinaigrettes and salads, drizzle over dishes, cosmetic formulations and at-home beauty products; do not heat it as it can become bitter tasting

+ Sesame oil
- Low saturated fat levels
- Abundance of polyunsaturated fats
- Contains two powerful antioxidants called sesamol and sesamin; may help reduce blood pressure
- Contains Omega-6 and Omega-9 essential fatty acids
- Wonderful flavour in dishes
- You can buy both roasted sesame oil and cold pressed sesame oil; opt for the cold pressed as the roasted is more likely to be rancid, and thus very sticky
Best for: Asian cooking, marinating meat and fish, massages, oil pulling, skin moisturiser

+ Peanut oil
- Monounsaturated fats mostly, but also some saturated fat
- Great for high temperature cooking
Best for: Asian dishes, stir fry's, cooking at high temperatures

+ Macadamia oil
- Monounsaturated fat with little polyunsaturated fat
- Strong nutty flavour
- Nourishing for dry skin
- Rich source of Omega-9 essential fatty acids
- More expensive than most oils
Best for: dressing your salads so you can taste it, adding to sweets for a nutty flavour, frying fish

+ Wheatgerm oil
- Soothes irritated skin, eczema, wound healing and scar tissue
- Do not heat this oil
Best for: salad dressings, drizzling on a finished dish, applying topically to skin

+ Safflower oil
- Contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which helps aid abdominal fat loss
- Can help inflammed joints, sprains and bruises
- Source of vitamin E
Best for: massage, salad dressings, baked goods

+ Apricot kernal oil
- Excellent for skin care
- Wonderful skin absorption
- High in monounsaturated fat and essential fatty acids
- High smoke point for frying
Best for: at home skin care products, topical skin application, sauces and sautes, vinaigrettes

+ Grapeseed oil
- High smoking point
- Subtle flavour
- Great for many uses
Best for: stir frying meats and vegetables, making mayonnaise, deep frying, fondues

+ Flaxseed oil
- Omega-3 essential fatty acid rich
- Delicious butty flavour with a deep golden colour
- Never to be heated
Best for: salad dressings, making omega-boosted mayo, adding to smoothies

+ Almond oil
- Great massage oil
- Wonderful skin moisturiser
- High in vitamin E and calcium
- Source of Omega-9 essential fatty acids
Best for: salads, mayo, desserts and home make pastries, massage and skin care oil

+ Canola oil
- Highly genetically modified and why I would never recommend it; however...
- High in Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fats
- Minimal flavour
- Often used in commercial deep fried foods, baked goods, pastries etc
Best for: I would stay away from it

+ Vegetable oil blends
- Derived from a blend of vegetable sources
- A little unsure of ingredients and sources
- Highly processed
- Found in junk food products and takeaway food
Best for: I would stay away from it

So depending on your needs and wants, whether you cook more foods or prefer salads, or want to try something on your skin or in your hair, you can now pick and choose knowing the pros and cons of most oils on the shelf at your local health food store. 

Christie xx

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