You got grass-fed meat, organic vegetables, and whole-grain bread for dinner, but did you think about which cooking oil you'll use? Increasing healthy fat by using certain oils not only helps protect your brain, heart, and cell health, it can also help you absorb more nutrients, burn more calories, and lower cholesterol. If you already use olive oil to dress salad and sauté meat, you're off to a good start, "but just like the more colorful vegetables you have on your plate, the more variety of culinary oils in your diet, the bigger the health benefits," says registered dietitian Diane Henderiks. Some oils can also boost your health in ways olive oil can't, by providing more omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, shown to fight heart disease. Every oil has a different smoke point, the temperature at which it begins to oxidize: Use light olive, avocado, and coconut for high heat (sautéing, roasting, grilling), and save extra-virgin olive, hemp, and walnut for dressings and dips. Here are four specialty oils to add to your kitchen, along with tips on how and why to use them.
This buttery oil has more monounsaturated fat – which research shows helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure – than olive oil. Adding it to vegetables may also increase the number of nutrients you absorb.
Try it: With a superhigh smoke point, avocado is ideal for grilling meat, sautéing vegetables, and searing fish. Stir it into soups, or drizzle it over pizza.
Credit: Photograph by Nick Ferrari