Best Oil to Use in Your Kitchen

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Blog, General Wellness, Nutrition

In my last article, I discussed the problems with refined oils and what oils you need to avoid i your kitchen. If you missed this, I recommend that you check that article out here. Now let’s get into the best oils to use in your kitchen. The best oils to use in your kitchen include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and flax oil — In fact, these are the only ones I recommend. But why? Let’s look at the benefits of the best oils in your kitchen.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is made from olives, which is the fruit of the olive tree. Olives and olive oil are both rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Harvesting olives and making olive oil dates back thousands of years in many areas of the world where olive trees grow, including Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Spain, and other areas of the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Olive trees were introduced to the Americas in the mid-1500s and have spread since, cultivated in Peru, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and California.

Olive oil is not only popular, but it’s incredibly healthy. It is a crucial part of the popular Mediterranean diet. Olive oil offers many health benefits. A 2009 review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition has found that olive oil may help to decrease chronic inflammation and oxidative damage (1). 

According to a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Nutrition, it has anti-inflammatory properties (2). According to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, thanks to the natural antioxidants, including polyphenols, olive oil may help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer (3). 

A review published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology has found that it may help to decrease blood pressure and improve heart health (4). According to a 2018 review published in Endocrine, Metabolic, and Immune Disorders Drug Targets, a diet high in olive oil and MUFAs may be beneficial for your cholesterol levels (5). A 2020 review published in Advanced Nutrition has found that oleic acid in olive oil may help to lower the risk of obesity and help to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight (6). 

A 2021 book published by the Academic Press has discussed how extra virgin olive oil can benefit cognition and brain health (7). A 2009 review published in Acta Neurologica Taiwan has found that it can support a balanced mood, thinking, memorizing, and performing cognitive tasks (8). A 2011 study published in PLoS One has found that olive oil and MUFAs may decrease the risk of depression (9).

It’s no surprise that I recommend using olive oil as one of the best oils for your kitchen. But not all olive oils are created the same. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality made by cold-pressing without chemicals from refinement and high-heat manufacturing processes. Virgin olive oil is made with a second pressing from more ripe olives. It is still generally good, however, not the highest quality. Light olive oil, olive oil brands, and brands that generally only state olive oil on both are made from refined olive oil. In some cases, they are mixed with other vegetable oils. They are of lower quality and have gone through high-heat and chemical processing. 

For ultimate health benefits and safety, I recommend choosing extra-virgin olive oil made with cold-pressing, preferably organic. Look for the International Olive Oil Council (IOC) label on the seal. Choose dark bottles (green or black) which helps to prevent oxidation. Consider where the oil comes from, too. You may rotate your olive oils seasonally based on where they come from.  In September, the freshest olive oils come from the Southern Hemisphere, such as Chile,  Peru, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, while in January, they are from the Northern Hemisphere, such as Spain, Italy, Turkey, Croatia, the US, and Mexico. Once the bottle is open, keep it in a dark and cool place. 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is made from the kernel, meat, and milk of coconuts, also known as the coconut palm fruit. Coconut palms grow in the tropics within 25 degrees north and south of the equator in Southeast Asia, India, Australia, South America, Caribbeans, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and the southern areas of North America. The texture of coconut oil is solid below about 25 C or 77 F and turns liquid above. Coconut oil is a great oil used for smoothies, baked goods, and cooking. Some may even add it to their coffee. It is also a common ingredient in shampoo, conditioner, and lotion.

Unlike other healthy oils, coconut oil has over 80% of saturated fat (10). Don’t let this alarm you. Saturated fat may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you limit your intake to less than 10% of your daily calorie intake (11, 12). However, most people’s saturated fat intake comes from a diet high in processed and fatty meat, cheese, butter, and processed foods. Coconut oil has so many health benefits. Using it in your cooking in moderation without making it the focal point of your diet may help to improve your health.

A 2017 review published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine has found that the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil may help to improve good cholesterol when using 1 tablespoon once a day (12). 

A 2015 animal study published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine has found that coconut oil may help to reduce stress and support mental health (14). A 2007 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food has found that it may help to reduce Candida (15). This may be due to its anti-inflammatory benefits. Moreover, some research suggests that coconut oil may be beneficial for your liver, asthma, skin, and hair (16, 17, 18, 19).

Just like olive oil, coconut oil is not created the same. I recommend using extra virgin coconut oil from trusted brands. These come from fresh and mature coconuts without using high temperatures and added chemicals. This is the least processed form. Read labels and avoid partially hydrogenated coconut oil or anything with additives. Store it in a cool place.

To keep your saturated fat levels in check, use coconut oil in moderation along with other healthy oils in your kitchen. Coconut oil is an excellent option for your baked goods and raw, no-bake healthy desserts, adding a sweet, coconutty flavor. They are a great alternative for butter and shortening for bread. You may enjoy a spoonful of your coffee. It may be a good option for sauteing and stir-fries if the coconut flavor fits your recipes. It’s also the oil I use when making stove top popcorn.

Avocado oil

Another best oil for your kitchen is avocado oil. You already know that avocado, as a whole fruit, is a great healthy fat — so is avocado oil. Avocado oil is made from the pulp of avocados. It is great raw but also excellent and safe for cooking due to its high smoke point. Avocado oil is highly nutritious and is a rich source of potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins. 

Avocado oil is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, which is a heart-healthy fat (20). According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, avocado oil may help to improve cholesterol levels (21). 

According to a 2006 research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, it is rich in lutein, an antioxidant that’s great for your eye health (22). Avocado oil may also help to absorb certain nutrients. For example, a 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it may aid the absorption of carotenoids (23). 

It may also help to decrease inflammation and related issues. A 2019 meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Rheumatoid Disease, it may help to lower inflammation and pain related to arthritis (24). Due to its antioxidant content, avocado oil may also help to fight oxidative stress and inflammation, thus may help to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other inflammatory issues (25, 26, 27).

Avocado oil is a versatile oil that is simple to use. It is great when used cold over salads or vegetable dishes, in smoothies, hummus, or dips, in gazpacho and other cold soups, and in homemade mayo. But it is also fantastic and safe for healthy cooking as it’s a stable oil at high heats up to 271C or 520F (28). It’s an excellent addition to grilling or marinating meat, baking or sauteing vegetables, and barbecues. 

Flax Oil

Last but not least, one of the best oils for your kitchen I recommend is flax oil or also known as flaxseed oil. It is a yellowish oil from the ripened and dried seeds of the flax plant. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and only 1 to 2 tablespoons a day may boost your health.

Flax oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that gets converted in small amounts into EPA and DHA, the active forms of omega-3 (29). Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to lower inflammation levels, better brain function, and improved heart health (30, 31, 32).

Some research, including a 2015 study published in the Journal of BUON, a 2015 research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, and a 2010 research published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, has found that flax oil may help to lower the risk of and decrease the spread of cancer, including lung, colon, and breast cancer (33, 34, 35). According to a 2007 clinical trial published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it may help to reduce blood pressure and support cardiovascular health (36).

Flax oil may also be great for your gut health. According to a 2015 research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, it may support regularity and reduce constipation and diarrhea (37). A 2016 study published in Nutrients has also found that flax oil may help to reduce inflammation in obese people, which may be great news for fighting obesity and inflammation-related health issues (38).

Flax oil is another versatile oil for your kitchen. It is a fantastic option for salad dressings, sauces, and dips. You may add them to your smoothies or protein shakes. 

However, flax oil is different from other oils on this list. It doesn’t have a high smoke point, thus it can release harmful compounds when heated at high heat (39). Avoid using flax oil for cooking. Keep it as a cold ingredient for smoothies, shakes, dips, dressings, sauces, cold soups, raw, no-baked goods, and drizzled-on vegetables. Remember, only 1 to 2 tablespoons a day can provide tremendous benefits.

Next Steps

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