What's The Healthiest Oil For Cooking?

If you're trying to take care of your body and eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet, you may be analyzing some of your pantry staples like cooking oil to make sure you're making the smartest choices. All cooking oils are not created equal, so which one is the healthiest?

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Oil is a fat, but you can opt to cook with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are good for your heart rather than using oils high in saturated and trans fats. Generally, nut, seed and plant oils have healthier fats than solid fats like butter or shortening and tropical oils like palm or coconut oil. In fact, while it might sound like a healthy choice, coconut oil has more total saturated fat than beef or butter.

According to the American Heart Association, heart-healthy oil options include: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean and sunflower. Of those, some have additional health benefits. For example, canola contains low levels of omega-3, while corn and soybean are high in omega-6. However, out of these recommended options, one stands above the rest in terms of both versatility and a variety of additional health boosters: extra-virgin olive oil.

One of the healthiest oils you can cook with, extra-virgin olive oil is a popular oil that is one of the foundations of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. The "extra-virgin" designation means it's made from the first pressing of olives. Extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants, and studies have shown it improves risk factors for many diseases, including Alzeihemer's, dementia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease.

When choosing the "best" oil for you and your family, there are other factors to consider as well, including taste, price and smoke point. However, because of its health benefits and versatility, olive oil is among the foods that you should eat every day.