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Best cooking oils

Have a question about your low-carbohydrate lifestyle for our experts? Ask it here.

Your question:
What are the best oils to cook with for a low-carb lifestyle? How do they differ? The expert answers:
All oils contain the same amount of calories (1 tablespoon = 120 calories). What differs is the amount of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Some general guidelines:

  • Avoid saturated fatty acids.
  • Do not use processed, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils found in commercially made deep-fried foods, potato and corn chips, doughnuts, cookies and imitation cheeses.
  • Buy “cold pressed” oils.
  • Healthful oils include those high in polyunsaturated fatty acids — corn, safflower and sunflower — and those high in monounsaturated fatty acids: olive and canola.

Monounsaturated oils help lower blood cholesterol more than polyunsaturated oils, and help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL).

Canola oil is the best for cooking. It is mildly flavored, low in saturated fat and works well in baking, saut�ing and oiling pans.

Extra-virgin olive oil has a deep, almost fruity flavor that varies from brand to brand. It’s good for salad dressings or drizzled over cooked vegetables. Pure virgin and light olive oils are milder in flavor; they hold up better under high heat and are best for saut�ing and baking.

Peanut and toasted sesame oils are highly flavored and are ideal for Asian-style dishes. Peanut oil does well under high heat and often is used for stir-fries.

Under no circumstances do you want to let any oil burn past its smoke point, as it turns the oil into a trans fatty acid. The best oils for high-temperature cooking are canola, grapeseed, sunflower and peanut.

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