What are the best cooking oils to use? When cooking meat and vegetables, you may be asked if you want to add a splash or two of liquid gold into the pan. With so many bottles and jars on the grocery store shelves, it can be hard to know which cooking oil to buy.

The landscape of cooking oils has changed over the past decade according to Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She points to the recent arrival of coconut oil andavocado oil as examples of how the market has changed. It can be hard to understand the latest health headlines about the effects of fat on health.

Selecting the right oil to cook with doesn't need to be difficult. We checked out the latest research and spoke to nutrition experts to learn more about the health benefits of cooking oils.

Read on to find out which oils to avoid and which ones to include.


Should you use cooking oils?

Oils are an essential part of a healthy diet according to theDietary Guidelines for Americans. Fats in cooking oils help us.

  • Absorb vitamin A, D, E and K 
  • Support a healthy body weight
  • Aid healthy cell growth
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease

woman pouring cooking oil into a pan

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The oils have three types of fat.

  • Monounsaturated fat: Healthy fat found in olive oil, nuts and seeds  
  • Polyunsaturated fat: Healthy fat found in oily fish, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds
  • Saturated fat: Unhealthy fat found in butter, lard, coconut oil and palm oil

The most prominent type of fatty acid is what determines the oil's classification. Olive, canola, and corn oils all contain some form of fat. Coconut oil is linked to high cholesterol and heart disease.

The Cleveland Clinic says that a healthy amount of oil is 27 grams a day.

Here is a list of nine cooking oils that are healthiest for you to use.

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Olive oil & extra virgin olive oil

A key part of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil. The United States is the third largest consumer of olive oil in the world.

Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils so it's better for cooking. The oil can't survive high heat before it starts to burn. It's possible that olive oil is better suited for high- temperature cooking.

Jo Ann S. Carson

Extra virgin olive oil has more flavor than olive oil, so it's a good choice for vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and cooking.

It is possible to prevent heart disease with olive oil. It is low in fat that is good for you.

Extra virgin olive oil is the most processed version of olive oil and it keeps more of the vitamins and minerals. According to a review in the International Journal ofMolecular Sciences, the reduction of oxidative damage can lead to diseases such as cancer.

There is still uncertainty about the effects of the Mediterranean diet with the evidence for benefits low or moderate.

Dr Alice Lichtenstein

Avocado oil

The oil has a mild flavor similar to the fruit it is made from and can be used in a variety of ways.

One of the highest levels of fat in cooking oils is found in avocados. The oil is rich in oleic acid, which is low in saturated fat.

bottle of avocado bottle next to half an avocado

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We need more research to be certain of the health benefits ofavocado oil, but early studies show that it can reduce cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, benefit eye health and help the body absorb other essential vitamins. A systematic review shows that it may improve the symptoms of arthritis.

The saturated fat content of the oil is higher. The percentage of saturated fat in butter is larger than the percentage of saturated fat in coconut or palm oil.

According to Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy and director of the cardiovascular nutrition laboratory at the Tufts University Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging,Avocado oil is a fine oil to use.

Canola oil

The oil comes from a plant. It's a versatile and practical cooking oil that's not very expensive and can be used in a variety of ways.

Canola oil is a good source of fat. It has the lowest level of saturated fat among cooking oils and is a good source of Omega 3 fats.

Canola oil can reduce people's risk of heart disease according to a review published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases Reviews.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is made from the fruit of the coconut palm tree and has a consistency similar to butter or shortening. Coconut oil can be used for both cooking and baking.

Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, even though it is marketed as a healthy option. It isn't included in theDietary Guidelines for Americans or the American Heart Association's recommendations.

Coconut oil has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, as well as improving the skin, according to a review in the journal of the science of food and agriculture. It claims that the benefits of coconut oil need more research.

solid coconut oil in a jar

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According to Lichtenstein, coconut oil doesn't have any unique heart-health benefits, and its "halo effect" is probably not justified from a scientific perspective. Coconut oil has a high content of saturated fat, so it is not a good choice for cooking.

If you want to limit saturated fats in your diet, you should avoid coconut oil.

Grapeseed oil

The cooking oil is made from grape seeds. Grapeseed oil has a mild flavor that can be combined with stronger flavors. It is a good all-purpose oil for cooking. The Cleveland Clinic advises storing it in the fridge with walnuts to prevent it from rancidity.

Grapeseed oil is a good source of vitamins E and K. It has a high level of Omega 6 fat. According to a study published in the Missouri Medicine journal, there is evidence that omega 6 fats increase the risk of certain diseases. We don't know how grapeseed oil can affect our health.

Peanut oil

The seeds of the peanut plant are used to make peanut oil. It is a good choice for cooking stir-fries and Asian inspired meals.

Compared to canola oil, peanut oil has the highest levels of monounsaturated fat.

Some health experts warn against using peanut oil until they know more about its health benefits.

peanut oil besides a bowl of peanuts

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Sesame oil

sesame oil comes from sesame seeds Toasted sesame oil has a darker color and bolder flavor that makes it a great choice for cooking. After opening sesame oil, store it in a cool place.

It's not used as a cooking fat and is used more for its intense flavor. There is a good mix of fat.

Sesamol is found in sesame oil and is known to have anti- inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Sesamol has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. A small randomized control trial published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows that it may be possible to regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Vegetable oil

In the past, vegetable oil has usually been soy oil. The term could also be used for a blend of oils. It is a neutral-tasting oil that does not have a lot of flavor, but it is a versatile cooking oil that can be used to make salad dressings.

Saturated fat is 15% of the oil's total content. Omega 3 fats are found in salmon and sardines, but are less common in plant-based food sources.

bottle of vegetable oil on a wooden surface

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Sunflower oil

One of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fat can be found in sunflower oil. It's low in saturated fat makes it a good option for the heart. It's an all-purpose oil that can be used for roasting, frying and deep-frying.

There are three types of oil that can be used for cooking in the U.S.

  • High linoleic acid
  • Mid-oleic
  • High oleic 

Changing the levels of linoleic or oleic acid in the oils affects how they cook. All three have the same levels of saturated fat, but high oleic and high linoleic have different amounts of fat.

There is a link between a diet with a lot of Oleic acid and lower cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. Good cholesterol can be increased by it. The FDA has approved health claims for high Oleic sunflower oil.

What is the healthiest cooking oil?

Olive oil is the go-to cooking oil for a heart-healthy life according to the Cleveland Clinic. When cooking to reduce saturated fat in the diet, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend using vegetable oil.

The article is not meant to give medical advice.