Which oils are best for your health?

Fiona Hicks

Eating oils is a great way to amp up your healthy-fat intake. Here are some of the best—plus one to avoid.

Best for salads: hemp seed oil

Regular consumption of hemp seed oil can help with a range of health issues, from high blood pressure to dry skin. However, its omega-3 fats are unstable in heat—so enjoy drizzled over cold meals and hearty salads instead.

 

Best for dipping: extra virgin olive oil

This contains a whopping 73 per cent monounsaturated fat, which, as several studies confirm, can lower your risk of heart disease if eaten in place of saturated fat. Make sure you choose an unrefined version, and try as a dip for crusty wholemeal bread.

 

Best for sautéing: ghee

A foundation of Indian cooking, this is butter with the milk solids removed. With no milk solids, there’s no sugar (lactose) to burn, which means you can cook with it at higher temperatures. Use it to sauté vegetables for a delicious side dish.

 

Best for roasting: coconut oil

This is composed of special medium-chain fatty acids. A review in The Journal of Nutrition found that this type of fat increases energy expenditure as it’s broken down and, because it’s so satiating, it can lead to lower energy intake overall. Coconut oil also had a very high smoking point, so can be used safely at high roasting temperatures.

 

Best for grilling: avocado oil

Derived from the flesh of the fruit, this is chock-full of monounsaturated oleic acid, which can help reduce your cholesterol. It’s so stable that you could use it to deep-fry fish—but grilling is a much healthier alternative!

 

Best avoided: sunflower oil

Scientists found that when heated, sunflower oil releases high levels of aldehydes—chemicals that have been linked to cancer, heart disease and dementia. It’s best to steer clear.
 

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