Cooking with heart healthy oils

Find out what oils to use in your kitchen.

Heart healthy oils are primarily derived from plants. But not all oils are created equal. Some are not suitable for cooking, so you should make sure to have a variety of oils in your kitchen to use.

Different oils have different smoking points; the temperature at which the oil starts to smoke or burn. To avoid smoking or burning of the oil, it is recommended that you use oils suited for cooking. Some oils have a low smoking point, meaning they start smoking at a lower temperature compared to others, and are more suitable for low-heat cooking. Other oils that have a high smoking point, meaning they smoke at high temperatures and are suitable for sautéing and baking. It is important not to heat oils above their smoking points because of the toxic fumes and harmful free radicals that can be produced.

The Cleveland Clinic recommends the following oils to use when cooking:

  • Browning, searing, or pan frying: Almond oil, sunflower oil, canola oil and olive oil.
  • Stir-frying and baking: Canola oil, grape seed oil and peanut oil.
  • Sautéing and sauce-making: Olive oil, walnut oil and sesame oil
  • Making salad dressings: Olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and avocado oil. For a basic salad dressing, mix three parts of your favorite oil with one part apple cider or balsamic vinegar. Add a garlic clove, salt and pepper to your taste and voila – a simple dressing full of heart-healthy benefits.

If you’re looking for oil that will get you through most of your cooking and recipes, then extra virgin olive oil is the winner. However, for high temperature cooking such as baking, canola oil is another staple to keep on-hand in the kitchen.

Michigan State University Extension recommends storing oils away from heat and light, which can damage oils. You can store most oils in the refrigerator. However, that may cause your oils to become cloudy, but the quality or taste of your oil won’t be altered and if you leave oils at room temperature for a few minutes, the cloudiness will disappear.

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