Probably the most popular choice, olive oil is both versatile and healthy. It can raise good cholesterol levels and lower bad ones, as well as being full of antioxidants and nutrients. It also tastes great and doesn’t alter the taste of food.
A major downside to extra virgin olive oil is that it has a low smoke point – meaning you can’t cook at high temperatures as it will start to smoke and burn.
Coconut oil has gained popularity in recent years – and has caused some debate as to whether it really is as healthy as people have been led to believe. That said, it can be a good choice of cooking oil when cooking at a high temperature because it’s very resistant to heat so it won’t release harmful free radicals unless it’s cooked at a very high temperature. However it’s very high in saturated fat, so most nutritionists suggest using it sparingly.
The two main problems with coconut oil is firstly the taste – you can’t use it to cook everything because it leaves the food with a hint of a coconut taste, and secondly the price – it’s one of the more expensive oils on the list.
Vegetable oil is usually a much cheaper oil, and while it is not bad for you in small amounts, it lacks flavour and nutrients, and is highly processed. It is generally high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which when consumed in high quantities could contribute to chronic inflammation. This often leads to serious conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.
Rapeseed (Canola) Oil
Rapeseed oil has a high smoke point, meaning it can be cooked to very high temperatures before it starts to release dangerous compounds, and some studies suggest that it may help to improve cholesterol and heart health. It is also flavourless so it’s versatile to use for cooking a variety of things, as well as being cheap to buy. On the downside, it is heavily processed, decreasing the nutritional benefits and increasing Omega-6, meaning it should only be consumed in small doses.
Avo oil is a very healthy choice. It’s unrefined, and has a high smoke point so can be cooked to a high heat. It doesn’t have much flavour so is very versatile, and contains lots of nutrients which help to improve cholesterol and heart health. On the downside, it’s pretty expensive compared to other oils.
Sunflower oil is neutral in flavour and can withstand high temperatures, so it can be good all-round cooking oil. It’s high in vitamin E, but also in Omega-6, so should be used in moderation. Studies have suggested that high oleic sunflower oil can also help to improve cholesterol.
Butter is a whole, fresh food, unlike some of the processed oils on this list. It’s rich in several very beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins A, E and K2, as well as healthy fats CLA and Butyrate. It’s not ideal for high heat cooking, unless you use clarified butter or ghee.