UACES Facebook Choose the Best Cooking Oil for Your Needs

Choose the Best Cooking Oil for Your Needs

When it comes to total fat and calories, all cooking oils provide about the same 14 grams of total fat and 120 calories per tablespoon. the difference lies in the proportions of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that the oil brings to the table.

TEXARKANA, Ark. –

When it comes to cooking oil, there are so many choices: olive, canola, peanut, sesame, vegetable, corn – the choices seem to go on and on. How do you choose the best for your cooking needs?

Knowing how long to keep oil on the shelf is essential to a quality product as oil has a limited shelf life. Most oils, if unopened, have a shelf life of one year. Once opened, most stay fresh for about six months. After that period of time, they can become rancid and develop an undesirable taste and smell. Keep your cooking oils tightly covered and away from light and heat. Storing oils above or next to the stove is not the best storage option.

Some questions to ask include: What is the fat content and what type of fat is in it… What flavor will it give and how heat tolerant is the oil ... Will the oil smoke and burn if heated too high?

When it comes to total fat and calories, all cooking oils provide about the same 14 grams of total fat and 120 calories per tablespoon. The difference lies in the proportions of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that the oil brings to the table.

Saturated fats tend to raise LDL, the bad or “lousy” cholesterol levels, so it’s best to limit your intake of these types of fats to less than 7 percent of total daily calories. These are the fats that are typically solid at room temperature and found mostly in foods from animals and some plants. Foods from animals include beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cream, milk, cheeses and other dairy products made from whole and 2 percent milk. All of these foods also contain dietary cholesterol. Foods from plants that contain saturated fat include coconut, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil (often called tropical oils), and cocoa butter.

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may help lower your blood cholesterol level when you use them in place of saturated and trans fats. They're found mainly in fish, nuts, seeds and oils from plants. Some examples of foods that contain these fats include salmon, trout, herring, avocados, olives, walnuts and liquid vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, safflower, canola, olive and sunflower. Remember that coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are high in saturated fat, even though they're vegetable oils and have no cholesterol. Read food labels carefully.

There are different uses for oils. Extra virgin olive oil, EVOO, as it is commonly called, is high in heart healthy monounsaturated fat. It has a distinctive flavor, and is not the best choice for baking or anything that you do not wish to have this particular flavor. It is great sprinkled over steamed vegetables for added flavor or mixed in a salad dressing.

Canola oil is the lowest in saturated fat, 6 percent cholesterol per tablespoon, and is high in heart healthy monounsaturated fat and omega 3 polyunsaturated fats. It can tolerate high heat like peanut oil and has a high smoke point. The flavor of canola is mild, making it great for baking and wok or stir-fry cooking.  

Peanut oil is generally used when high heat temperatures are required, such as stir-frying and frying. It is used in commercial kitchens such as Asian restaurants where a lot of cooking is being done in woks. It has a nutty flavor, and is high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats. If you are cooking for someone with nut allergies, this one needs to be avoided.

Fat is a hot topic, especially when it comes to cooking oils, and everyone has their own opinion of which is best. The choices on the market today seem almost endless. Become an informed shopper and make the best choice for you and your family based upon how you will use the product, and its nutrition.

Remember, coconut oil and palm kernel oil is comprised mainly of saturated fatty acids, which can raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol, while canola, sunflower, and safflower oils are comprised mainly of unsaturated fatty acids, which may help lower blood cholesterol levels, when used in place of saturated fats.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at chadley@uaex.edu, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609
chadley@uaex.edu

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