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15 Healthy Alternatives to Vegetable Oil That Taste Great

Traci enjoys writing about foods, beverages, recipes, and gardening.


What Makes Vegetable Oil so Bad?

Before jumping into the different varieties of cooking oils and how they are each used, let’s look at what exactly vegetable oil is, why it is bad, and why it’s important to have alternatives. Vegetable oil became a manufactured commodity when Proctor & Gamble rolled out its new product, Crisco, in 1912 as an alternative to animal fats.

Little did the public know, this product was toxic to animals and was previously considered waste. The public was not made aware of the health hazards until the 1990s. What makes vegetable oils bad is the way they are extracted. During extraction, there are chemicals added and there are many studies that have concluded that it is not a healthy substitute.

Common Vegetable Oils to Stay Away From

The suggested alternatives don’t consist of harmful extraction methods. In fact, healthier methods consist of simple pressing. Common examples of vegetable oils that are extracted through unnatural processes include canola, cottonseed, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, and peanut oils.

The Importance of Processing and Extraction

Choosing oils that are pressed, unrefined, or refined without the use of chemical processes are the best to use for health reasons and flavor enhancement. These oils have a better nutritional value and are most recommended by health experts.

Vegetable Oil Alternatives for Cold Applications

Vegetable Oil Alternatives for Cold Applications

Vegetable Oil Alternatives for Cold Applications

These vegetable oil alternatives are best for salad dressings, dips, sauces, and drizzling.

1. Flaxseed

While not ideal for cooking with high heat, flaxseed oil is great for drizzling over foods and for salad dressings. It is an excellent source of linoleic (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic (an omega-3 acid) acids.

2. Hempseed

Hempseed oil has a low smoke point and is excellent for drizzling, making dips or sauces, and it is loaded with nutritional value. Hempseed oil contains a lot of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. It has a nutty flavor and must be stored in the refrigerator.

3. Pumpkin Seed

Rich in carotenoids, antioxidative substances, zinc, unsaturated fat, fat-soluble vitamins, health experts claim an impressive range of benefits from the use of pumpkin seed oil. It is known to reduce the risk of cancer, improve memory, aid in decreasing anxiety symptoms, support heart health, and help with the treatment of diabetes.

4. Almond

Almond Oil is commonly used in cosmetics and skincare products, but it is very nutritious to include in your diet. It contains an abundance of monounsaturated fats, while low in saturated fats. Almond oil is not ideal for high-temperature cooking but it is excellent for salad dressings and cold applications.

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5. Unrefined Walnut Oil

This delicacy has a nutty flavor and is well-suited to flavor food and use in cold sauces and dips rather than for cooking over high-temperature. It has a smoke point of 320° F. Unrefined walnut oil has been shown to balance cholesterol levels. It is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and possesses anti-inflammatory properties.

Alternatives for High-Temperature Cooking and Cold Applications

6. Sesame

Sesame oil is available in toasted or light formulas. It has a rich and nutty flavor. While mostly used for seasoning and sauces, it can also be used for cooking thanks to its smoke point of 410° F. It contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants. Sesame oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and supports skin, hair, heart health, and mental health.

7. Unrefined Shea Butter

Shea butter is an excellent alternative to regular butter and can be used as a spread and for the same cooking purposes as butter. It is a great source of essential fatty acids, contains antioxidants, and vitamin E.

8. Avocado

Avocado oil is a delicious alternative to vegetable oil and one that might just make you never look back. It is great to cook with at hot temperatures and it is packed with benefits, including monounsaturated fatty acids that reduce inflammation. Avocado oil also contains carotenoids, lutein, oleic acid, phytosterols, and vitamin E.

9. Butter

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, butter got a bad rap. However, professionals and consumers are realizing butter is quite good. Butter contains a lot of healthy saturated fats, the fatty acid Butyrate, and is rich in conjugated Linoleic Acid fat. It also contains fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, and K2. When compared with its ugly imposter, Margarine, butter lowers the risk of heart attack.
It is also the most delicious alternative to vegetable oil, turning flat toast into a delicious staple, potatoes into comfort food, and giving life to many breakfast dishes. It has a smoke point of 350° F and can be used for low to medium heat cooking.

10. Cacao Butter

Cacao butter is a wonderful staple to have. While often known as an ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products, it is also used to cook with. Cacao oil is derived from cocoa beans which are full of antioxidant properties, including polyphenols and flavonoids. The oil retains many of these great properties and is a healthy saturated fat. When used for cooking, a little goes a long way, and it has a high smoke point.

11. Coconut

Coconut oil contains an ample amount of healthy saturated fats and other medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). The MCTs found in coconut oil have long-term weight loss benefits, have been shown in studies to improve memory and curb appetite. It is also used as a natural antibiotic, antifungal, and antibacterial. Coconut oil can be used for baking and just about any cooking since it’s smoke point is relatively high.

12. Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter. The main difference between ghee and butter is the removal of milk solids and water. It has many benefits over butter thanks to its high smoke point and shelf-life. Ghee lasts a long time without refrigeration. It is great for people who are lactose-intolerant. Ghee is full of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, choline, along with vitamins A, D, E, and K.

13. Olive

Olive oil contains a lot of healthy monounsaturated fats, Omega-3, Omega-6, and antioxidants. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Extra-virgin olive oil is healthiest and has a smoke point of 375° F. Regular Virgin olive oil has a slightly higher smoke point of 391° F. Both are fine to cook with, but extra-virgin is better for lower temperatures and sautéing.

14. Palm

Palm oil is also made from the African oil palm tree and is specifically made from the fruit’s flesh. It is pressed in a way similar to olive oil and is free of trans fat. Palm oil is rich in vitamins A, E, and K. It is known to boost energy levels and regulate hormonal balance. It has a smoke point of 450° F and can be used in a wide range of cooking applications.

15. Rice Bran

Rice bran oil has a smoke point of 490° F. It has a neutral taste and a balanced fat ratio. It contains the antioxidant oryzanol, which supports heart health, and it lowers cholesterol. Rice bran oil also supports weight management, skin health, and contains vitamin E. It is fairly new as a cooking oil and is produced mostly in India.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2017 Traci L Bell

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