10 ways to a healthier you
Whether you prefer to sauté, drizzle or dip, there’s no one-size- fits all when it comes to using oils. Choosing the right one for the job can not only enhance the flavour of your food but it can also improve the nutritional balance too.
Cooking oils, which predominantly come from plants, nuts or seeds tend to contain less saturated fat than animal fats (such as butter and
lard), and more heart healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which can help to lower cholesterol.
All oils have a similar calorie and total fat content, but what they differ in is the types of fat they contain and the temperature at which they start to break down. This is called the smoke point. When the smoke point is reached, further heating affects the quality of the oil, changing the flavour and the nutritional benefits, which is why it’s important to use the right oil for the right recipe.
The all -rounders
Low in saturated fats, and higher in monounsaturated fats than sunflower and olive oils, it also contains some omega-3 fats and vitamin E. As it has a high smoke point, it is a great choice for frying, roasting, sautéing, grilling and baking.
Low in saturated fats and rich in polyunsaturated fat - mainly omega-6 – sunflower oil is also high in vitamin E. It has a high smoke point and mild flavour, making it suitable for stir-frying and sautéing.
Rich in monounsaturated fats, which boost ‘good’ cholesterol and have a beneficial effect on heart health.
Rich in plant sterols, omega-6 and vitamin E, corn oil is very mild, so use in recipes where you don’t want to alter the flavour.
Rich in plant sterols and high in monounsaturated fats and omega-6. It has a high smoke point, but as it’s made from peanuts, check that nobody has a peanut allergy before cooking with it.
Rice bran oil
Rich in plant sterols and vitamin E, but higher in saturates than other oils. It has one of the highest smoke points of all oils, making it great for frying. Foods cooked in rice bran oil absorb less of the oil, so it’s a healthy choice for roasting.
Great for dressings, sauces and dippings
Extra-virgin olive oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is richer in antioxidants than more refined products, but it has a low smoke point, which means it does not heat well, so save it to use for dressings, sauces and dipping.
Cold pressed rapeseed oil
Cold pressed rapeseed oil is slightly more peppery than the regular type, and is great for use in salad dressings.
Toasted sesame oil
Best suited to Oriental dishes, toasted sesame oil has a rich, nutty flavour as the seeds are toasted before being pressed. It has a low smoke point, so is not ideal for cooking; however, you could add a dash to groundnut or sunflower oil for frying. It is best used in small quantities to lend flavour to dips, dressings and marinades.
Nicola’s top tips
Our Nutritionist Nicola Selwood, shares her top tips on what to look out for when deciding what oil to opt for.
Light does not mean lower calories
The term ‘light’ olive oil refers to a lighter flavour and colour – it doesn’t indicate lower calories or lower fat.
Choose the 'right' types of fat
Rather than cutting out, it's important to choose the 'right' types of fat. We know that replacing saturated fats in the diet with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as including plant sterols like those found in Corn, Groundnut and Rice Bran oil, all help to keep blood cholesterol levels healthy.
Benefit from plant goodness
As well as being rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil also contains polyphenols. These are a type of antioxidant, which help to protect important substances in the blood from oxidative stress.
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