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Healthy Oils: 9 Nut and Seed Oils

Updated on February 17, 2013

Healthy Oils: 9 Nut and Seed Oils

All oils and fats are 100% fat. However, the components that make up that fat structure of each oil are important in determining whether or not the oil or fat is considered healthy.

It is a myth to believe that consuming fat makes you fat. Fats are necessary to provide a concentrated source of energy and is necessary to make up a healthy diet. All oils are high in calories (about 120 per tablespoon) and therefore should be consumed in moderation.

They are usually referred to as ‘seasoning oils.’

Cold- and Expeller-pressed oils* are recommended to insure taste, purity and nutritional value.

The culinary nut and seed oils and their characteristics are as follows:

Almond Oil - has a subtle toasted almond aroma and flavor and is good for salad dressings and in sauces. It has a high smoke point** so it can be used for high heat cooking. Almond oil is a good source of monounsaturated (73%) fat, vitamins A and E. It is often used as a massage oil, and a carrier for aromatherapy oils.

Argan Oil - it is said that this oil is only grown in one place in the world, Morocco. It has a golden yellow color with a reddish tint and a nutty aroma. The oil obtained from the nuts is expensive due to the traditional methods of production. Most often used as a dip or a spread but also good for cooking, and cosmetics. I have only heard of this oil used in cosmetics.

Hazelnut Oil - popular in French cuisine. Has a strong roasted hazelnut flavor and is most often used in baked goods and sauces. Works well as a marinade.

Macadamia Nut Oil - most brands are cold-pressed* It has the same buttery rich flavor as the nuts. It is used in salads, in cooking, and as a seasoning. Macadamia nut oil has a high smoke point which makes it an excellent choice for frying and sautéing. It also contains the highest level of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (85%) of all the edible oils. It also has an exact balance of omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Due to the high level of antioxidants rancidity is slowed and this oil can be stored for up to two years without refrigeration.

Peanut Oil - the USA version is almost clear with a mild flavor (I find it practically tasteless and the aroma is almost negligible) due to the refining process used. The Chinese version has a stronger taste and aroma. The refined oil has a high smoke point and is excellent for frying and sautéing. It is also high in polyunsaturated (33%) and monounsaturated (49%) fats, making it a healthy oil for cooking and for dressings. (I use it to make fresh peanut butter).

Pecan Nut Oil - sweeter than walnuts and are used as an alternative to them. They are grown in the American south. Used in salad dressing, baking, marinades, and as a flavoring.

Pistachio Nut Oil - high in unsaturated fatty acids, it is considered a healthy oil. It is a cold-pressed oil from the fruit of the Pistacia vera. With its powerful flavor, it does not go with everything but it does go well with sweet dishes.

Sesame Seed Oil - is highly nutritious and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 and omega-6. Sesame seed oil is rich and nearly odorless. When properly stored it is not likely to go rancid. Popular in Chinese and Korean cooking.

Walnut Oil - cold-pressed from the meat of dried walnuts, it has a strong, and distinctive taste. Generally used as a flavoring, and salad dressing. Like other nut oils, it is popular in French cuisine.

*Cold-pressing - pressing and grinding fruit or seeds using heavy granite millstones or modern day stainless steel presses. This procedure will heat through friction but the temperature must not rise above 120F in order to be labeled cold-pressed.

Expeller-pressing - is similar, except that extreme pressure is used which results in much higher temperatures.

**Smoke point - this is the temperature at which a cooking oil or fat begins to break down. The substance will smoke or burn, and give food an unpleasant taste. (Caution: The flash point is beyond the smoke point and it is the point at which combustion occurs - also known as a grease fire).

salad oil
salad oil

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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi Nicole Rodgers - I found an unrefined peanut oil and it is great! I even feel better when I ingest just a little bit of oil - thanks for writing!

    • Nicole Rodgers profile image

      Nicole Rodgers 

      5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I had never heard of using the oil of some of these nuts before reading this! I have learned something. I'm glad someone commented about coconut oil. I was going to ask, too, but I see you included it in another hub. We could get into the, "Is it a fruit or is it a nut" debate...

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I do feel good when I have included oil in my diet. Less dry hair, nails and skin. Thanks for commenting Cold Pressed Oil.

    • Cold Pressed Oil profile image

      Cold Pressed Oil 

      7 years ago from San Diego

      I couldn't agree more. Healthy fats are essential and don't make you fat. I haven't tried hazelnut oil. Love it in coffee though :) Awesome post.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true about the nutrients caring person. We tend to grab any oil and start frying but many turn toxic if you fry. Olive oil should never be used for frying. However, coconut oil and real palm oil (it should be red) can be used for frying. Most oils should be enjoyed raw for their nutrients and flavor. So good.

      I do have articles here about raw fats (like olive oil) and that they should be consumed as such.

      Thanks for your input!

    • profile image

      caring person 

      7 years ago

      I think oils are wonderful to eat and use as body products! One thing that I don't understand is why everybody continues to cook with oils. Cooking oil kills the nutrient value. Oils used for consumption are to be drizzled over our foods.

      Why spend money on cold-pressed oils just to turn around and kill the oil by cooking with it. Please do the research and find out what heating oils do to it. Best of wishes.............

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Ah, food. It is good isn't it. This sounds great, slicing up the baked potatoes - I think that's what I will eat today with some vegetables. Mmmmm. Onions, green peppers, mushrooms, - whew!

      I loved the sesame oil in S. Korea. The real thing - you only need a little. Usually drizzled over food, nice raw and fresh.

      Thanks for writing!

    • World-Traveler profile image

      World-Traveler 

      7 years ago from USA

      That's it, the oil! I cook with a variety of oils whenever I get the chance. One of my favorite recipes using olive oil is to slice up several baked potatoes and vegetables and sauté them in oil. Delicious with soup or salad. Now I'm hungry again. Voted UP!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello Shalini Kagal! The amazing coconut oil is a fruit oil and I wrote a hub about healthy fruit oils too. For so long here in the US we were told to avoid coconut oil - out of ignorance. Of course many of our oils are processed to the point of being useless - like palm oil which should be red but here it's yellow.

      When I was in Korea sesame seed oil was the real thing - here is it overprocessed. Even the peanut oil here. I've read about how luxurious almond oil is for the skin - thanks for that information - it would make a great hub!

      Thanks so much for commenting!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      8 years ago from India

      Would coconut oil qualify for a nut/seed oil? :)

      We use sesame seed oil and peanut oil with a bit of coconut oil for certain dishes. And almond oil for the skin. Haven't tried most of the other oils - they sound interesting!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much TheVacationLady! There is so much great stuff out there. I can't help but to think I missed some oils.

      Nice to meet you by the way!

    • TheVacationLady profile image

      TheVacationLady 

      8 years ago from Everywhere

      I had NO idea there are this many types of oils!! I need to expand my shopping list. This is fabulous information!!! Now I have a goal to try all of these oils. thanks!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Macadamia nut oil is luscious GreenThumbLady! I don't often see it on the shelves but it is out there. I'm glad you found the information wonderful! Thanks for commenting.

    • GreenThumbLady profile image

      GreenThumbLady 

      8 years ago from The Beautiful Earth

      They make a macadamia nut oil? Are you kidding me?? How do I not know about this? I must get this! I love macadamia nuts! Wonderful hub. Thanks for this great information!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks GmaGoldie! The grape seed oil sounds excellent. Thanks for the recommendation - and thanks for commenting!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I love grape seed oil - very expensive but very light. I had no idea about these other oils! I will have to buy some Walnut oil tomorrow. Excellent Hub!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR

      BkCreative 

      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi justmesuzanne!

      Lately, it seems like none of the oils have much of a scent or flavor - but I am sure there was a time when these oils were so distinctive. I've been disappointed with all peanut oil of late. Perhaps I'll try the ones sold at the Chinese markets!

      Thanks for writing!

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Good article. Interesting about walnut oil. I use olive oil, walnut oil, and peanut oil in cooking, depending on what I am doing. I usually use walnut oil for baking, but it does not seem to have a strong flavor at all. Perhaps it is just the brand I buy (an organic brand). Also, walnut oil is a good after-bath-all-over moisturizer. It is light, and does not have a scent! :)

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