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Mildly nutty peanut oil is a great choice for healthy frying. Because it can be heated to a higher temperature than many other oils, foods cook faster in it and have less time to absorb the extra calories and fat. It's also a surprising source of resveratrol, an antioxidant that is found in grapes and red wine and has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
COST PER TABLESPOON: 11 centsSafflower
This oil may help you lose weight and control your blood sugar. Researchers at Ohio State University found that women who added about two teaspoons of it to their daily diet had less abdominal fat and more muscle mass after four months. And because it's almost flavorless, safflower oil lets the other ingredients in your dish -- whether you're using just-picked herbs or perfectly ripe peaches -- shine through.
COST PER TABLESPOON: 12 centsCanola
Compared with other cooking oils, canola has the lowest price and one of the lowest saturated-fat contents. It also contains a high amount of alpha-linolenic acid, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and possibly prevent heart disease. Its neutral taste and medium-high smoke point -- the temperature at which an oil starts to burn and produce toxic fumes -- means you can even use it for baking.
COST PER TABLESPOON: 6 cents
Most of us don't get enough omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect brain cells and may guard against cancer. Flaxseed oil is a good source of these nutrients, but their benefits are destroyed by heat, so store bottles in the fridge and add the oil only to cold or already cooked dishes. If you find its slightly bitter taste too strong, try combining the oil with something like peanut butter or kale, which can mask the taste, or buy a flavored variety (we like lemon).
COST PER TABLESPOON: 52 centsAvocado
One of the only cooking oils not derived from a nut or seed, avocado oil has a fresh, slightly fruity taste that won't overpower delicate vegetables or seafood. It also has a high smoke point, making it an excellent choice for frying, browning, and barbecuing. Bonus: Research shows that avocado oil may help combat the free radicals that speed up aging.
COST PER TABLESPOON: 57 centsToasted Sesame
This fragrant oil is not only packed with the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, but it may also lower blood pressure, according to a Yale University study. Toasted sesame oil is pricey, though, so use just a little to punch up finished dishes.
COST PER TABLESPOON: 53 cents
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2013.