What oils do you use?

party_music50March 4, 2014

What oils do you use and for what purpose? I'm looking for the lowest in saturated fat, or highest in mono and polyunsaturates... the "heart healthy" and cholesterol-lowering kind.

I've been using plain olive oil (never virgin, that's too fruity for me) and am trying canola oil, but a few people have commented negatively about the taste of the canola.

I generally use half olive oil and half 'other' oil for my salad dressing, mostly so it won't be solid when removed from the fridge. I always use olive oil to saute, but I suspect I'll be yelled at for that. ;^) I also need an oil for any baking where olive oil won't suffice.

So what "healthy" oils can I use that also have good flavor?

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My default is olive oil - and I prefer fruity for most applications. I usually have a bottle of some generic vegetable oil that is labelled as healthy -omega..... I have grapeseed oil for frying. I recently bit the bullet and bought some coconut oil. Somehow the solidity and the price put me off for a long time. Still figuring out what to use it for - my favorite so far is a bit on my oatmeal with maple syrup and cinnamon. And of course butter which I am trying to minimize in my diet.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:59PM
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I am truly puzzled about the new obsession with coconut oils and flours. Coconut oil is *extremely* high in saturated fat, so why is it considered healthy?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:58PM
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I only have two types of oil in my kitchen - olive and soybean - and between the two of them, they cover all my needs.

For salads - olive
For cake recipes requiring oil - soy
For sautéing - either depending on the food
For deep-frying - none because I haven't done it for years

Our cholesterol numbers are good but I attribute that more to regularly preparing foods by baking, steaming or braising so the total amount of fats we use is probably less than most households.

Processed soybean oil is not considered 'healthy' by many for other reasons but since it is not a major ingredient in our diet and it doesn't seem to have much flavor at all, it's my pick for when I don't use olive oil.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:10AM
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A really good quality organic Greek olive for dressings. Or, a mix of rapeseed, sunflower and grapeseed for dressings - this is considered to be a very healthy mix here.
For cooking, a tiny drop of ordinary olive. For cakes, the mix above.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:46AM
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I, too, usualy have only 2 oils: olive and canola.

Olive (non-organic but extra virgin) for salad dressing. Sometimes for cooked dressing, such as olive oil, paprika, cumin and crushed garlic cloves. I always put the spices and garlic in the COLD olive oil in a small pan, and only then do I turn on a very low flame. The minute I can smell the aroma of the spices+garlic combination, i turn off the flame and pour the dressing on the dish (usually some cooked lentils or beans). This way the oil hardly bubbles. I never saute in olive oil, but mainly in butter.

Canola - for frying and baking. Some time ago there was quite a buzz here in israel about canola being a poison, fit for use as car fuel, etc. Luckily i happened to listen to a radio programme in which some venerable prof. offered an explanation for that poison buzz. His explanation was very similar to what's on the Mayo clinic site:

"Health concerns about canola oil are unfounded. Canola oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant, is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.
Misinformation about canola oil may stem from the fact that the canola plant was developed through crossbreeding with the rapeseed plant. Rapeseed oil contains very high levels of erucic acid, a compound that in large amounts can be toxic to humans. Canola oil, however, contains very low levels of erucic acid.
Canola oil is also low in saturated fat and has a high proportion of monounsaturated fat, which makes it a healthy and safe choice when it comes to cooking oils."

Here is a link that might be useful: Canola Oil on Mayo Clinic site

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 6:27AM
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EVOO for dipping and salad dressing
Light Olive oil for sautéing
Walnut Oil for salad dressing
Avocado oil for salad dressing
Coconut Oil for pan frying
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Peanut oil for deep frying
Toasted sesame oil for flavoring

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:18AM
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Whatever vegetable oil is on sale, including peanut oil.

And of course sesame oil for flavoring.


I find the term "Extra Virgin" offensive.

If you are a virgin, how do you become extra virgin?

Is a virgin better person than a non-virgin?

How many other countries use "Extra Virgin"?

Call it first press, second press, premium, etc. please!

Silly thinking on my part, I admit.


This post was edited by dcarch on Wed, Mar 5, 14 at 7:44

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:35AM
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"How many other countries use "Extra Virgin"? "

Not in Israel. In Hebrew the equivalent is "katit" - literally "crushed, pulverized". "katit meu'leh" is "extra virgin".

"If you are a virgin, how do you become extra virgin? "

Where there's a will there's a way! One must never give up!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:56AM
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dcarch, I was watching an old movie (comedy) on TV yesterday.... the lead role was played by Doris Day, but she was playing a young woman who was less than refined. I commented to my friend that it must have been one of her first ever roles in the movies! He answered "yeah, it was before she was a virgin".


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:00AM
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I thought Canola was from CANada and LO, (low acid)
Not a fruit, seed, or plant. A made up word using the rapeseed. Overly processed and cheap to produce.
Not enough study for me to use it. If it gets a bad rap and actually not so bad for you, i need a bit more proof. FDA approved is not really good enough for me.
So many other choices. Organic canola might be fine but it climbs the cost ladder and others are much better me thinks.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:53AM
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I mostly use the olive oil Dcarch doesn't like the name of, for almost everything, even though Cook's Illustrated says it's a waste of money to use it for sautéing. I don't care, as it's handy. I also use butter. I don't use enough of it to be afraid of it, and it tastes good.

I have grape seed oil on hand, but have rarely used it. Is it supposed to have a flavor? If not, mine has gone bad, as mine has a flavor, and I thought it was supposed to be flavorless.

I do use non-gmo canola oil for baking or things I don't want to impart a flavor to. I thought canola oil was was the same thing as rapeseed oil, as it's made from the rapeseed plant. I thought the main problem with canola oil is that it's usually gmo.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:54AM
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Sleevendog, Canola is a widely-grown plant in Western Canada. Thousands upon thousands of acres grown.

Here is an interesting Snopes article about negative emails generated about canola. The snopes article was from Aug/2013

Here is a link that might be useful: Snopes on Canola

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:06AM
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After studying BOTH sides of the fat controversy "coin" for many years (and I still try to keep abreast of new science on the subject), I practice the opposite philosophy, and have for 30-years.

At age 61, no medications, normal BP, cholesterol, and blood sugar. No heart disease, and I do vigorous exercise and strength training 5-days a week. I have the bone density of a much younger woman (DEXA-test) and have not lost any height.

I have AVOIDED "polyunsaturated fats" (man-made oils high in Omega 6) and hydrogenated fats in our diet since the mid-1980's. We also avoid processed foods, white flour (we are now wheat-free), white sugar and eat on the lower half of the glycemic index of foods (diabetes is rampant in hubby's family).

Our primarily whole foods (aka clean eating) diet consists of about 25% fat - from food sources such as nuts, avocados, fish (although hubby doesn't eat fish, so he takes a supplement), flax (meal), chia seeds, butter/ghee, and coconut oil. I make nut milk and coconut milk for drinking/baking/kefir, and we also use non-fat dry powdered milk (as part of our home food storage plan) which gets made into kefir. I use nut flour and coconut flour for baking, along with other wheat-free grains/seeds/beans.

-For baking (and I make all our baked goods, snacks and breads) - butter/ghee and coconut oil. I also use bananas, applesauce, dates, prunes, and chia seed gel as fat substitutes for part of the fat in recipes. I generally reduce the fat in most recipes by about 25% by using coconut oil. Coconut oil was the primary fat in commercial baked goods prior to the late 1960's because it had a better shelf-life than today's vegetable oils, which go rancid quickly when oxidized.

-For frying - coconut oil, ghee

-For dressing/vinaigrette - olive oil (until I found MCT oil recently, and I use it in a vinaigrette - don't often have dressing, but they are made with kefir as the base). I was recently introduced to Camelina Oil, thanks to another GW member in recent thread where we discussed fats/oils, and I just got a bottle, but haven't tried it yet.

party_music50 said:
"I am truly puzzled about the new obsession with coconut oils and flours. Coconut oil is *extremely* high in saturated fat, so why is it considered healthy?"

You must not have done any serious research on the health benefits of coconut oil and coconut flour, and I'd suggest doing so before dismissing it.

Fats are composed of three dietary fats - saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. No fat is entirely any one of those.

Safflower Oil - 10% sat., 13% mono., 77% poly.
Canola Oil - 6% sat., 62% mono., 32% poly.
Olive Oil - 14% sat., 77% mono., 9% poly.
Lard - 41% sat, 47% mono, 12% poly.
Butter - 66% sat, 30% mono., 4% poly.
Coconut Oil - 92% sat., 6% mono., 2% poly.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:22AM
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I forgot to report that I do use use sesame oil as a flavoring. I also have a can of unhealthy Crisco shortening in the pantry that I use for greasing some pans for baked goods.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:50AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Here is an article from Dr. Oz on Coconut Oil benefits.

While there's a lot of controversy about canola oil, some of the arguments against it has to do with how refined the oil is, how it is refined with what nutritional impact, and the fact that the oil is fragile and readily goes rancid, which they then cover up with deodorizers. See this article for example.

The real problem is the lack of solid accurate nutritional and health data on either side of any food controversy.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 10:01AM
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I lived in Western Canada, well, if 6 months counts. Traveled and worked all over Alberta. Gorgeous fields when in bloom. I got the ol' head down from some locals when asked what it was. Not all Canadians think it is a good thing.
Are some actually calling it a canola plant now?

Anyway, i don't use it. I prefer olive oil. Our market brings in good fresh batches and we just taste and choose one when one is running low for dressings and the flavor. We have probably tasted over a hundred or more since October as our local market has a couple dozen out to taste before purchase. Seasonal pressing is a bit different batch to batch depending on weather like any crop.

For cooking I make a blend of coconut, grape seed, mild olive oil, (not a virgin)...the mix changes with what i have just to make the coconut fluid to pour.

I do have almond, walnut, avocado, apricot, sesame and toasted sesame,(small amounts and in the fridge), but find that raw sesame seeds toasted and ground can give the same flavor in some dishes without needing a pressed and processed product. I look for expeller pressed/cold pressed/organic. Even though we don't use allot of oil or butter or animal fats, we do use it every day in some way, so i prefer to use a better quality as the overall cost is not that much.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 10:22AM
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It seems often we're told something is "good" and then later find out it's really not so good, at least in the form we're using it -- whatever is the latest information in the news has to be followed up with more research to get the whole story - I am pretty much with Grainlady - olive oil, coconut oil, ghee
In addition to just trying to eat healthy/lowfat - many people have serious health issues related to using other oils, so it's not a matter of being able to use whatever is on sale, etc

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:09AM
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So much of the common knowledge about 'healthy' fats are based on misinformation. PLEASE do some real research before dismissing saturated fats... our bodies are so dependent on fats, it is really important that we understand the real research on fats rather than blindly trusting what we've been told by clever marketers.

This is one of my favorite videos to share on the subject... It really explains it all (17 minutes long and totally worth your time!)

*I mostly use butter or sometimes coconut oil for cooking and baking, some sesame or peanut oil for Asian dishes, olive oil for salad dressings/things that aren't cooked 'hot'. The only thing I use Crisco for is to grease the gears on my deli slicer... I haven't bought Crisco, vegetable oil, or canola oil in years.

Here is a link that might be useful: Saturated Fat & Cholesterol Lies

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:32PM
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I found avocado oil for cheap at my local Lebanese market, and so I use that for sauteing, but it has no flavor. It's the best oil I've found to use when I do not want any oil flavor added, and it has a high smoking point. I also use grape seed oil (when I do not find avocado oil) for frying, as it is almost flavorless.

For flavor, I use olive oil and sesame oil. I never use peanut oil, as I do not like its flavor, and for me, it has a very distinct flavor and is far from neutral.

I sometimes use walnut oil in salad dressings, or mustard oil. I bought some palm oil for a Brazilian fish recipe but have not yet used it. I also have coconut oil that I have not yet used, but I have used it in the past for a sunburn balm. After moving to L.A., I have always had aloe vera plants that I have used for sunburn, but now I avoid the sun.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:55PM
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Well, Dcarch, the French and the Greeks manage to be vierge extra!!! LOL

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 3:04AM
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I use only olive oil in salad dressing, also use it instead of butter to season and roast vegetables. But aside from that, the other day I had to go to Sam's club and they had a big display of coconut oil. I had been reading about it here and at other sites and debated on buying it since it is very expensive. I decided to try it. Well, all I can say is I made the best biscuits this morning with it. They were beautiful to look at, the texture was wonderful and they tasted good. They did have the faint coconut fragrance - the only kind they had was the virgin - but it wasn't offensive at all. I am now a coconut oil devotee for baking. I might try it to fry but I do very little frying so that might be awhile.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:57AM
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When I used coconut oil for baking, the baked goods were so dry you couldn't even swallow it. I used the extra virgin organic stuff from the health food store that cost an arm and a leg.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:47AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7

I use my oils based on flavor and appropriateness for the heat level involved in the cooking method. They include olive (evo and "regular"), grapeseed, hazelnut, butter, and lard from organic pastured pigs more or less regularly. I have tried various other oils that don't make the lineup because either I don't like the flavor (coconut, walnut) or the flavor isn't enough to justify the cost. I prefer organic just because. I don't worry about the healthiness of the oilsI use too much because I figure if I use them in moderation none of them are that bad. We don't bake- way too many calories in most baked goods, we do eat salads, we sautee with the minimum fat to cook properly, use small amounts in marinades and on vegetables (unless the meal is vegetarian so we add more fat sometimes). The doctor is pleased with my husband's "good" cholesterol levels, so it must be right enough!

But my Dad and I were talking just yesterday about the way people are getting bombarded with so much conflicting information about "science says". We both have degrees in biology and ended up agreeing that part of the problem is that "science" is presented as if it were one big entity when really it is a bunch of very different people doing lots of very different work looking at things in extreme detail. Lots of times those details don't line up with each other, which doesn't make one study "wrong" and another one "right", but does indicate a need for further study to figure out why they seem to say such different things. I could go on, but I'll stop there.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:20AM
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It seems to me it is too easy to get papers published as being "scientific studies" these days. I saw one (not about oils) that I won't bother linking, but it had a sample of 42 people. 42 people?

Well, anyhow, here is what Andrew Weil has to say about coconut oil studies. I wish he had told readers which studies he was commenting about. I guess, as of last May, he wasn't convinced of the health-inducing attributes of coconut oil by the studies, so far.

Here is a link that might be useful: from 5/7/2013

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:57PM
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It just seems like if one day they say that one oil is wonderful then the next they are saying it's terrible and it just goes on and on. It's not just oil of course, it's everything. I believe it's a matter of funding and whoever is funding the research will find a way to jig it toward their favor. It needs to be research by people that are unbiased.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 6:07PM
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Maybe the extra virgin never had an impure thought.

I love olive oil. Its wonderful for your skin as well

The ancient Egyptians never had a word for that. Young people were free to be young people and after you married, you were supposed to settle down and be sensible and raise your kids. They loved spiced and herb flavored oils.

I have also heard the recent health benefit talk about coconut oil but its one of the most saturated oils so I don't use it. I heard that if you rub it on your feet, you can cure skin problems but haven't had any problems so I didn't try it. It smells good though.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 10:36PM
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Years ago I could find sunflower oil in the stores, but not recently until I found Hain Sunflower Oil at iHerb.com. Two weeks ago I placed an order with iHerb.com and have been so pleased with their quick shipping and the items I ordered. When next I order, I will get their sunflower oil for its light, neutral flavor and its healthy properties. I'd rather use sunflower oil (when I can get it) than other vegetable oils like canola. I have some coconut oil in the pantry also and an additional container in the bathroom. I really like the coconut oil for my winter dry skin.

iHerb has free shipping for a minimum order of $20. They have grains, spices, supplements, nuts, dried fruit and much more. I have no affiliation with them, just as a satisfied customer.

Here is a link that might be useful: iHerb link

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 8:51AM
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