Cooking Oils 101

Cooking Oils 101

Nov 22, 2023Tori Sajovec, RD, LD

From grilling to frying to baking, oils are used often in our everyday cooking. With so many different oils on the market, it can be hard to know which is going to work best for you and your needs. You may also be thinking, “Why does the type of fat I consume matter?” Replacing saturated and trans fats with healthier fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is not only great for your heart but also for your overall health. One reason for this is that saturated and trans fats are responsible for raising bad LDL cholesterol. In contrast, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in oils can help lower LDL and raise your good HDL cholesterol. 


One way to eat healthier fats is by using non-tropical vegetable oils for cooking and preparing food instead of solid fats like butter, ghee, shortening, lard, hard-stick margarine and tropical oils, including palm and coconut. When choosing an oil to cook with, you may consider its flavor, smoke point or refinement. Let’s discuss a few types of oils and what makes them different from each other. 


  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is rich in healthy fats, with each teaspoon serving containing 10 milligrams of monounsaturated fat and 2 milligrams of polyunsaturated fat. Olive oil is also loaded with powerful antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of chronic disease. With a 410°F smoke point, extra virgin olive oil is excellent for sautéing and roasting. Olive oil has a flavor profile of fresh herbs and fruit, so it also makes for delicious dressings and marinades. Try Full Circle Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 


  • Avocado Oil: Each teaspoon serving of avocado oil contains 10 milligrams of monounsaturated fat. This oil has the highest smoke point of 500°F and a neutral flavor, making it incredibly versatile. You can use this oil in baking, marinades, dressing mixed greens and pasta salads. You can also use this oil for higher-heat cooking, like sautéing and frying, without the risk of smoking up your kitchen. Try Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil.  


  • Sesame Oil: Sesame oil has a nutty taste, and it adds a distinct flavor to various recipes, including Asian-styled dishes. One teaspoon serving provides 6 milligrams of monounsaturated fat and 6 milligrams of polyunsaturated fat. Sesame oil has a smoke point of 410°F, making it a great oil to use when cooking a stir-fry or sautéing. Try Spectrum Unrefined Medium Heat Organic Sesame Oil. 


Oils play an essential role in our diets and are helpful to have on hand when cooking meals at home. Keep a few different types of oils stocked in your pantry for different cooking needs. 


Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session to learn more. Hy-Vee dietitians offer various services to help you meet your weight loss and nutrition goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more. 


The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.


About the Registered Dietitian   
Tori Sajovec RD, LD, received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics with a minor in English from Iowa State University. From there, her passions took her to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she completed her 10-month dietetic internship program through Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As her knowledge of food and nutrition grew, so did her desire to educate customers and clients on their overall well-being. Her goal as a dietitian is to make health and wellness an insightful and enjoyable lifestyle for all.

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