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What Is The Difference Between Different Cooking Oils?

Dinner is approaching, and you are excited to try out a new recipe you found on the internet. You turn on the oven, and open the cupboard. The first line of action in the recipe list is to drizzle some oil into your pan. Sitting on the shelf in front of you are a handful of different options: canola oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil. How do you know which is the right one to choose? Well, the answer varies!

Back in the day, vegetable oil or a stick of butter used to be the go-to. Nowadays, the grocery store is full of multiple choices. Each of those choices all have their own characteristics, and your choice often depends on what you need to do with it, how you’re going to be cooking the food, and what impacts it will have on your health as well.

Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil

Vegetable oil is typically used for frying foods, whether that means deep frying, or just pan frying. It’s usually the cheapest oil you can buy, and therefore comes with the highest “smoke” factors (what temperature the oil can be cooked at before it breaks down) – most restaurants will use this type of oil in their kitchens. It also comes with no flavour, and therefore will take on the flavour of whatever you are cooking. This is why it’s best for things that are being deep fried. Health factors? Not so great. Lowest on the totem pole.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has gotten a lot of fame as of recently due to its health benefits, and ease of substitution in cooking and baking. It is great for low heat recipes for sautéing, baking, or roasting. The only downside is the high fat content, but like with any oil, we need to be conscious of the amount we are using and the caloric content it comes with. Coconut oil is great as a non-dairy option where butter might be used, but it’s also great with any type of tropical flavour pairing like chocolate or banana. An added bonus of coconut oil is that it can also be used in your hair or on your body – most beauty products will list this on their ingredient list.

Avocado Oil

The King of Kings, it seems. Avocado oil has the highest smoke point of all, but it also has a smooth taste profile also. This makes it great for cooking at high temperatures, or using as a drizzle. But with all it’s advantage points, it usually comes with a higher price point also. Studies also show that some of the components within it will improve eyesight. So perhaps this one comes with a little more bang for your buck.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Take away the high price point that comes with avocado oil, and you have it’s replacement. These two can go hand in hand, with one being a bit more affordable and generally the more commonly chosen in kitchens. EVOO has an equally high smoke point, but it shouldn’t be used for high temperature cooking. The one great thing about EVOO is it’s flavour profile. With its flavour profile, it makes a tasty option for drizzles or dressings, but high temperature cooking will ruin that. If restaurants aren’t using vegetable oil, they’re probably using just regular olive oil. It too, has a high smoke profile, but comes with a neutral taste and can be infused with anything. So if you want flavour, use your EVOO as a drizzle or a dressing, and cook at high temperatures with regular olive oil.

So Which Do I Choose?

Well, it all depends on what you are cooking, how you are cooking, and what you plan to do with it. Consider the temperature you will be cooking at, and what kind of flavour profile you are going for.

Remember, 1g of fat will contain 9 calories, and that a simple tbsp of oil will have about 15g of fat in it. So no matter what you are doing, it will pack a caloric punch! If you have nutrition goals, make sure you are factoring in the oil you are cooking with.

PS: If you need help figuring out how to work these oil choices into a meal plan that’s suitable for you and your goals, book your FREE Nutrition Intro here and sit down with one of our coaches!

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