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Oil Change: Healthy Cooking Substitutes for Olive Oil

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You would never dream of limiting yourself to a single spice or type of cuisine (well, maybe Italian, but only if gelato were part of the deal). So why are you reaching for extra-virgin olive oil every time you cook? These six alternatives have the same 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon as the "gold" standard does. But unlike EVOO, some can stand up to the high heat of stir-frying, while a mere drizzle of others can transform a dish. And because each delivers a special set of nutritional benefits, switching things up won't just make your meals tastier, it can give you a health boost too.

Peanut

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.

GREAT FOR

  • Frying chicken and potatoes
  • Stir-frying veggies, tofu, and rice

COST PER TABLESPOON: 11 cents

Safflower

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.

GREAT FOR

  • Whisking into vinaigrettes
  • Brushing onto veggies or fruit before grilling

COST PER TABLESPOON: 12 cents

Canola

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.

GREAT FOR

  • Mixing into muffin, cake, and waffle batter (or any recipe calling for vegetable oil)
  • Sauteing veggies, chicken, onions, or garlic

COST PER TABLESPOON: 6 cents

Flaxseed

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).

GREAT FOR

  • Blending into smoothies
  • Stirring into oatmeal

COST PER TABLESPOON: 52 cents

Avocado

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.

GREAT FOR

  • Drizzling over green salads or sliced tomatoes
  • Pan-searing fish or shrimp

COST PER TABLESPOON: 57 cents

Toasted 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.

GREAT FOR

  • Drizzling into soups and over steamed veggies
  • Whisking with soy sauce and vinegar to make a sauce for Asian noodles or dumplings

COST PER TABLESPOON: 53 cents

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2013.

 

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cekettles wrote:

we are looking forward to your reply.

11/7/2013 12:34:44 PM Report Abuse
cekettles wrote:

what about coconut oil?

11/7/2013 12:31:08 PM Report Abuse
cekettles wrote:

what about coconut oil?

11/7/2013 12:30:24 PM Report Abuse
wharris1187580 wrote:

I totally agree, why isn't coconut oil listed? It's much healthier and has more uses than just for cooking and baking!

9/20/2013 10:07:06 AM Report Abuse
glamgran wrote:

Somewhat disappointed that a fitness page can recommend oils such as safflower, peanut and canola which are all health no-no's. Do your research!!! Grapeseed and coconut are the only oils that can be safely heated for frying and stir-frying without producing toxic byproducts.

9/20/2013 09:55:32 AM Report Abuse

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