What's the best oil to cook with?

Question >

I have heard a great deal of controversy regarding different cooking oils and which are best to use. I don’t deep-fry anything. I usually use oil only when I’m stir-frying or sautéing. I have stuck to safflower and olive oil since they are supposed to be the lowest in saturated fat. Is this true? Are there other oils that are good to use?

Answer >

The best advice I can give is to keep your total fat consumption down (which you’re already doing by using olive oil), but use a variety of oils for different flavors and health benefits.

For example, canola oil is the oil lowest in saturated fat. For this reason, I recommend using canola oil over safflower oil. They’re similar in taste, but canola oil is richer in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Canola oil is also a good choice for baking when you don’t want strong flavor.

I’m glad to hear that you’re using olive oil, as it consists mainly of monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Olive oil contains 15% of its calories from saturated fat. Use extra-virgin olive oil sparingly, since it’s usually more expensive. You might try drizzling it on food for flavor.

As you may already know, the American Heart Association recommends consuming 30% of total calories from fat with no more than 8 to 10% of calories coming from saturated fat. The AHA also recommends consuming as little trans-fat — fats, like margarine, that are converted from unsaturated to saturated fat — as possible.

I don’t recommend eliminating fat from your diet completely, but I do agree with your choice to avoid deep-fat frying. Stir-frying or sautéing are both excellent uses of oil since they bring out the wonderful flavors of the food.

What you have in your mind?