Want to get the most nutrition out of your salad, stir fry, or roasted veggies? Then don’t be afraid to add a little oil!
Numerous studies over the past decade have confirmed that consuming a moderate amount of fat along with vegetables helps the body absorb important nutrients like carotenoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, and other antioxidants.
Below are 6 of our favorite plant-based oils ideally suited for a variety of uses. Give them a try for sautéing or roasting vegetables, baking or raw desserts, and various types of dressings!
Olive Oil is a wonderful all-purpose oil, versatile enough for just about any use, and is packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. It works well for just about any type of cooking or salad dressing, and milder varieties are even great for baking.
There is also a huge range of types of olive oil available, varying in flavor, intensity, and price – from under $10 to more than $50 per bottle! There are a number of brands that have excellent ratings and reviews, including Baja Precious, Columela, Frantoia Barbera, and Bariani.
Or for a true gourmet experience, try Olio Taibi’s organic, hand-picked, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. It even comes in low waste, recyclable, and certified “frustration free” packaging!
Sesame Oil is a flavorful choice for savory cooking, especially sautéing tofu, vegetables, and stir fries. Toasted sesame oil has a richer, more intense flavor than cold-pressed and un-toasted varieties, and is an awesome option for true sesame lovers! Try Kevala Organic Toasted Sesame Oil or Spectrum Naturals Organic Unrefined Sesame Oil.
Sesame oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant vitamin E, and thus may help mitigate against hypertension and certain types of cancer, and improve overall cholesterol profiles.
Peanut Oil is also an excellent choice for sautéing and stir fries, adding a delicious flavor and richness to vegetables, tofu, and tempeh dishes. With a high smoke point, peanut oil can also be used for frying. It’s is a good source of vitamin E, and is high in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.
Sunflower Oil is a mildly flavored oil with a high smoke point, making it great for all types of cooking, including frying. Unrefined varieties are less heat stable, but are more flavorful and nutritious, and can be used in dressings or low heat dishes.
Like peanut and sesame oil, sunflower oil is low in saturated fat, rich in polyunsaturated fat, and a good source of vitamin E. Try Hain Pure Foods 100% expeller pressed sunflower oil or Flora’s unrefined, organic version.
Grapeseed Oil is known for its clean, light flavor, making it ideal for use in dressings and delicately flavored dishes. Also low in saturated fat and rich in polyunsaturated fat, grapeseed oil has been shown to help reduce LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, while increasing HDL (or “good”) cholesterol levels.
Coconut Oil adds a rich, sweet, essence to baked goods and cooked foods, and also adds flavor and creaminess to raw pies, bars, and other no-bake treats! This non-hydrogenated oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids, which have been shown to help optimize cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and even body weight. Check out Spotlight on Coconut for more coconut health benefits, tips and recipes.
Which oils are your favorites for cooking, baking and dressing making? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!