Healthy Cooking Oils Buyer's Guide
Tips and recommendations for choosing the best cooking oils.
Our Top 3 Oil Picks
If you have limited pantry space and a limited budget, these three oils will cover your basic cooking and baking needs.
In addition to being a source of monounsaturated fats, extra-virgin olive oil is also high in antioxidants called polyphenols that have been linked to heart health. ("Pure" olive oil—in other words not virgin—doesn’t contain these "bonus" antioxidants.)
Best uses: Use in dishes that will benefit from olive oil’s rich flavor—drizzle on steamed vegetables and use to make salad dressing or to sauté vegetables.
Monounsaturated: 78% | Polyunsaturated: 8% | Saturated: 14%
Its neutral flavor and high smoke point makes this oil an excellent choice for baking and sautéing. Most canola oil is highly refined—which means that it doesn’t have many antioxidants like olive oil does but it does have a relatively long shelf life.
Monounsaturated: 62% | Polyunsaturated: 31% | Saturated: 7%
Best uses: Extremely versatile, use canola oil for sautéing, roasting, baking and making salad dressings. If you want to enjoy the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil but find its flavor too strong, try using a 1:1 ratio of canola and extra-virgin olive oil when making salad dressing.
This specialty oil sports a higher price tag, but along with that comes a rich, nutty flavor and omega-3s. Walnut oil—as with all nut oils—has a short shelf life. Buy a small bottle and store it in your refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Monounsaturated: 24% | Polyunsaturated: 67% | Saturated: 9%
Best uses: Its nutty flavor doesn’t work in every dish but it’s delicious in salad dressings (try a blend of canola and walnut oils) or baked goods that would benefit from a light walnut flavor.
Three More Oils to Try
Extracted from grape seeds, this versatile oil is usually mild in flavor, but imported ones may have a grapy flavor and aroma. A good choice for cooking over high heat.
Monounsaturated: 17% | Polyunsaturated: 73% | Saturated: 10%
Best uses: Use this all-purpose oil for sautéing, roasting and in salad dressings.
The high smoke point of peanut oil makes it a good choice for cooking over high heat. It contains heart-healthy phytosterols, essential plant fats known to lower cholesterol and inhibit cancer.
Monounsaturated: 48% | Polyunsaturated: 34% | Saturated: 18%
Best uses: Roasting and sautéing.
Essential to Asian cooking, sesame oil has a rich, nutty flavor. You’ll often find untoasted and toasted versions with other Asian ingredients in your supermarket.
Monounsaturated: 41% | Polyunsaturated: 44% | Saturated: 15%
Best uses: Stir-fry with untoasted sesame oil; drizzle toasted sesame oil onto a finished dish to give it a toasty flavor and aroma or use in salad dressing.