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Best of Kitchen Oils

Updated on October 2, 2010
anglnwu profile image

As a certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits, and how to keep weight in check.

Healthy Cooking Oils

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Whether you cook out of passion, compulsion or necessity, kitchen oils remain a staple. Any respectable kitchen (even if microwave is about the only cooking equipment) will have at least one bottle of kitchen oil. So, how does your kitchen oil stack up? Do you use the standard canola oil for everything or are you selective and have a variety of kitchen oils? If you cook, even if you do so occasionally, you may be interested to know some advice on kitchen oils. According to two American-Italian chefs, Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo who recently wrote the book, The Frankies Spuntino with Peter Meehan, some kitchen oils are better than others. The choice of kitchen oils also depends on the type of food you’re making.


Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of wine-making.

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If you’re ready, let’s take an in-depth look at their choices of kitchen oils.


  • Grapeseed Oil

Ask the two Franks, both veterans of gourmet cooking, and they will frankly tell you that grapeseed oil is the queen of kitchen oils. What sets it apart? High smoke point, clean and light flavor—the main reasons they choose grapeseed oil as their top choice of neutral oil for cooking and salad dressings.

I recently switch to grapeseed oil for cooking that requires high heat. Now, that’s before I heard about the Franks. I’ve read that for cooking that requires high temperature such as sautéing and frying, grapeseed does the deed. So, of course, I’m doubly pleased to know that I’ve made an informed and wise choice.

So, what’s so good about grapeseed?

Grapeseed oil comes from the seeds of grapes. Since the seeds are more deeply seated in the fruit, they are quite naturally protected from chemicals and additives that are normally given to the vine in the growing process. Now, if that sounds like a good thing to you, you’re right.

Each seed only yields about 16 to 21 percent of the oil, so extracting the oil can be a tedious process. However, it is well worth the effort as grapeseed oil offers lots of health benefits:

  • It has high levels of Vitamin E, about 60 to 120 mg per 100 grams of oil.
  • It has proanthocyanidins, more potent antioxidants than Vitamin C and E. We are all familiar with the “police” like qualities of antioxidants, arresting damaging free radicals, (aka the bad guys) causing health ills such as cancer, poor skin health and diseases.
  • Stimulates the circulatory system.
  • Treat and prevent varicose veins (yeah!)
  • Grapeseed oil boasts high levels of monounsaturated fats (lower bad cholesterol and bolster good cholesterol). It’s especially high in Linoleic acids, a super healthy omega acids—especially good for promoting good skin.
  • Its anti-inflammatory nature makes it an excellent balm for wounds and sunburn.

Uses

This light, sweet and slightly nutty oil is good for baking, deep frying and sautéing. Use it to make salad dressings and marinades.

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Sunflower oil has loads of Vitamin E.

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  • Sunflower Oil

The sunshine flower offers more than beauty. The oil from sunflower seeds reputedly supplies more vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. There are three main types of sunflower oils available in the market: NuSun, linoleic and high oleic. What’s the difference? They’re all developed with standard breeding techniques but differ in their levels of oleic content and each offers unique properties.

Health Benefits:

The American diet is particularly lacking in several nutrients including vitamin A, E, C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Recently, the United States Department of Health and Human Services specifically recommends using sunflower oil as an important dietary supplement. Here are some compelling reasons:


  • Its high levels of vitamin E can help you meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin E.
  • It is relatively low in saturated and trans fat and high in essential fatty acids, particularly omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids help to build strong hair and heal wounds. Omega-9 fatty acidshelp to preserve memory, prevent cancer, and reduce blood pressure.
  • Sunflower oil contains an array of antioxidants and phytochemicals (not technically nutrients but health-giving compounds). To name some: betaine, phenolic acid, choline, arginine and ligans. They exert both individual and collective benefits to fight and protect against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Uses

According to a study in the Journal of Food Science, pan-frying cod fish with sunflower oil may increase the level of omega-3 fatty acids. Cooks recognize the frying performance of this light oil. Use it to pan-fry, deep fry or to sauté foods. NuSun sunflower oil is noted for its ability to withstand higher temperatures than most cooking oil. It does not form trans fat as many oils do when they are cooked or baked. Using sunflower oil to bake is the healthier way to go.

Extra-virgin olive oil is best.

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Olive Oil

What about olive oil, the most ubiquitous of kitchen oils? Well, Homer didn’t call it “liquid gold,” for nothing. Mediterranean diet with a strong emphasis on olive oil use is touted as one of the healthiest diet. And rightly so (will discuss that soon) but first there are different grades of olive oil. What is best-- virgin, extra-virgin or refined? Health experts agree that virgin and extra-virgin olive oils have higher concentration of polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) than their refined counterpart. What do the Franks think? They picked cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil.

Health Benefits

  • According to Portuguese researchers, reported in Sciencedaily, olive oil contains DHPEA-EDA, a potent antioxidant, which offers the greatest protection against heart attack and stroke. DHPEA-EDA is capable of protecting red blood cells from damage more than any other part of olive oil.
  • Since extra-virgin oil is the most digestible of edible fats, it helps to facilitate nutrient uptakes, particularly vitamin A, D and K.
  • It slows down aging, not just when added to our diet but it is also a good skin moisturizer.
  • Olive oil helps bile, liver and intestinal functions.

Uses

Extra-virgin oils are best for salads, dressings and vinaigrettes. Make a flavorful dip by adding

some herbs or spice to extra-virgin olive oil. You can use it as a dip for breads or drizzle it over baked potatoes (or mashed). Toss it with steamed vegetables or brush it on fish or meat before serving.

When deep frying, use “olive oil” grade, as it has a higher smoke point (about 410 degree Fahrenheit) than virgin or extra-virgin olive oil.


Remember, the fresher the olive oil, the greater the antioxidant properties, so use it fairly quickly (once it’s opened).

Comments

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  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 

    8 years ago from Arizona

    Anything that is healthy and tastes good is for me. Do you use sesame seed oil very often. I had been using olive oil for cooking until I found out that it changes as it heats.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    8 years ago

    carol, thanks for your comments. I use grapeseed oil on a regular basis--it's very healthy and I love it.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 

    8 years ago from Arizona

    I have been using grape seed oil for a short period of time. This encourages me to keep on using it.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    9 years ago

    jojokaya, glad you find it useful. Thanks.

  • jojokaya profile image

    jojokaya 

    9 years ago from USA

    Great hub loaded with information. Rated up

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    Listlady, always good to see u. Yay!

  • TheListLady profile image

    TheListLady 

    10 years ago from New York City

    Great list - you've covered the oils so very well. Thanks a million! Yay!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    Maita, you'll always be the queen. But for oils, i bet you don't want to be in that category anyway. Smiles too:)

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 

    10 years ago from US

    useful and healthy stuff as usual. Grapeseed is the queen, I thought I am the queen, smiles.. Maita

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    Om, good to see u. Try grapeseed oil, you may never go back to the one you're using now right. Thanks for rating it up--have a great weekend.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 

    10 years ago

    I've never used grapeseed oil. But since you and the two wise Franks say it's great, I'm surely going to try it. Very awesome hub. Thumbs up. :)

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    Thanks, leatherfootball, for adding to this hub with your observations. Olive oil tends to disintegrate at high temperature, so instead of using it, replace it with grapeseed oil. I use grapeseed oil for most cooking and evoo for salads and dressings.

  • leatherfootball profile image

    leatherfootball 

    10 years ago

    This is a neat hub. I just noticed a wealth of different oils at the grocery store (white truffle oil, black truffle oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil, etc.). I've heard that grape seed oil is the best oil for fondue. So which do you prefer for cooking, grape seed or olive? Personally I've never used grape seed oil and only use olive oil for my cooking. So I'll have to give it a shot!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    Thanks, Lady E for your comments. Guess we can't go wrong with grape products. Come to think of it--they're quite nature's gift. We eat the fruits, the juice, the leaves and the oil--all from one vine.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    Ingenira, now, we know we have at least one thing in common--we are grapeseed oil users. Yeah! Thanks for dropping by.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    jayb, good to see u again. Thanks for passing the tips to your mother. She must be a terrific cook. Thanks for dropping by.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    MG, always a pleasure to see you here. You can just substitute your canola oil for grapeseed oil. Thanks for rating it:))

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    With three Franks endorsing grapeseed oil, I think I don't have anything more to say. I greatly appreciate your comments and the points you made greatly add to this hub. Thanks, Ms Frank!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    10 years ago

    Vera, lol, good thing there's always a first for everything. You'll like grapeseed oil, it's very light. You can find them in most health stores and they're not that expensive at all. Always great to hear from you. Have a great week ahead.

  • Lady_E profile image

    Elena 

    10 years ago from London, UK

    A nice Healthy Hub. I've always wondered what the difference is b/w Vegetable oil and sunflower oil - I'm glad you wrote about it and it's interesting to know that Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of wine-making.

    Thank you.

  • Ingenira profile image

    Ingenira 

    10 years ago

    Great hub! I am a regular grapeseed oil user too, and I love it.

  • jayb23 profile image

    jayb23 

    10 years ago from India

    Lovely reviews anglnwu on kitchen oils. Though I am not a kitchen person, i shall make my mom read it. Keep up the good work.

  • Money Glitch profile image

    Money Glitch 

    10 years ago from Texas

    Great hub! I learned some time ago that grapeseed oil was good for you. However, I did not know how to use it. I've always used virgin olive oil for my cooking and reverted back to canola oil when cooking on high temperatures. This hub has helped me to learn how to cook with different kitchen oils. Thanks bookmarking and rating useful. :)

  • Rochelle Frank profile image

    Rochelle Frank 

    10 years ago from California Gold Country

    I also use grapeseed oil (and my name is also Frank)... it is great for saute, and doesn't smoke at high cooking temperatures. As a by product of the wine-making industry, it is also less expensive than many oils.

    Save the EV olive oil for the salad.

  • ReuVera profile image

    ReuVera 

    10 years ago from USA

    Angeline, as usually, great review on oils.

    Shame on me, I even didn't know that there is Grape seed oil.... Never heard of it before and probably, didn't pay attention to the shelves in grocery stores. I am going to use it for frying, as I am using vegetable oil for this and not very happy. Extra virgin olive oil I use for salads.

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