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Oil 101: Types and Benefits of Each

Posted Jan 06 2010 4:43am

Oil… it's what for dinner.

Well, it's at least part of what's for dinner. Knowing which oil is the healthiest choice and the tastiest choice for said dinner — ah, that's what I want to talk to you about.

One of the healthiest ways to go in terms of your oil selection is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO if you're Rachel Ray…which I'm not, so I'll avoid the acronym nonsense). It involves minimal processing and high levels of the antioxidants known as polyphenols. Very, very good for your heart.

So, what about the other oils? How do they measure up?

Flaxseed Oil: Good for salad dressing. Great source of ALA, a form of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.

Olive Oil: This non-extra-virgin (please explain to me how something can be Extra virgin?) is perfect for grilling,sauteing, and using in a pasta sauce. It's high in monosaturated fats (good fats) and antioxidants, so it helps prevent the build-up of LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Canola Oil: Good for baking and broiling. Rather low in saturated fat and also a good source of ALA.

Grapeseed Oil: Works well for pan frying food. A good source of vitamin E, beta-carotene and sterols, which means that it also guards against the collection of bad cholesterol.

Rice Bran Oil: Can be used for deep-frying food or stir-frying. Contains various vitamin E related antioxidants that have been shown in clinical studies to inhibit both breast and skin cancer cells.

And this is just skimming the top of the oil ocean, but these will definitely get you started. Just remember that there are bad oils too!

The number one oiliest snakeoil salesman there: Trans Fat Oil. TFO will TKO your heart, and it's fast becoming a thing of the past, as even the fast food industry is moving away from it.

Trans fat is most well-known for being what french fries and the like are dipped into while cooking. This type of oil and fat has a nasty habit of clogging arteries, as well as wreaking havoc on your other bodily systems.

So, there you have it. Make sure you get more of the good oils, and stay away from the bad ones. You may want to steer clear of ingesting motor oil as well, though it's up in the air if that could actually be any worse than trans-fat-filled oil!

What other types of oil have you tried, and what are your favorites?

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