What to Read Next

All you need to know about oils

rachaelannehill
Rachael Anne Hill
13 September 2011

Gone are the days when all you had to do was choose between sunflower or olive oil.  Now it seems you can by the oil from just about every plant, nut or seed out there but should we be adding them to our stir fries or drizzling them over our salads?  Find out with our at a glance guide to 9 of the best.

Best oils to cook with

Top rated -  rapeseed oil
Rapeseed oil contains omegas 3, 6 and 9, essential fatty acids so it's great for heart health, brain health and joint mobility.   It is also a rich, natural source of vitamin E — essential for healthy skin and a strong immune system. High in mono-unsaturated fats and with less than half the cholesterol raising, saturated fats of olive oil it is one of the few natural oils that can be heated to deep-frying temperature without its antioxidants, character, colour and flavour spoiling. In short, one of the best oils there is and what's more — some of the very best rapeseed oils are produced right here in Britain.

Best all rounder - olive oil
Olive oil is a great source of heart protecting, cholesterol lowering, monounsaturated fat as well as free radical fighting antioxidants known to protect the body against premature aging and cancer.  It can be used to cook with up to temperatures of 180 degrees and is mild enough in flavour to be used with most dishes.  However, extra virgin olive oil (the oil that is extracted from the first press) is not quite so stable so it is best used cold.

Best for tight budgets - sunflower oil
Cheap, easy to find and a great source of the free radical fighting antioxidant  - vitamin E.  In fact, just 1-2 tablespoons contains all your daily requirement. It is also a good source of cholesterol reducing omega 6 polyunsaturates. However, it contains very few omega 3's so if you use sunflower oil regularly, you need to be sure you're getting enough omega 3s in your diet from other sources to balance things out. A chemically stable oil, it is suitable for deep-frying but don't be tempted to re-use the oil more than a couple of times as re-heating it to high temperatures can result in the formation of trans fatty acids known to raise cholesterol and increase the incidence of some cancers.

[See also: Six bad things which are actually good for you]


Best for high temperatures - groundnut oil

Ground nut oil — sometimes called peanut oil has a high smoking point making it ideal roasting, making Yorkshire puddings or frying.  It is an excellent all-rounder and has a very neutral, light flavour perfect for use in oriental dishes that often combine quite delicate flavours. Do be careful though as this oil is made from peanuts so anyone with a nut allergy should steer well clear.

Best for adding flavour - sesame oil
Another great source of cholesterol lowering omega 6 fatty acids light sesame oil can be used for deep frying and the dark or heavy sesame oil (made from roasted sesame seeds) adds a delicious rich flavour to stir-fried meats or vegetables.   Used a lot in oriental dishes it's rich flavour works as a seasoning in itself.

Best for rice dishes - avocado oil
Avocado oil has very little if any omega three fatty acids but it is a great source of monounsaturated fats and is also rich in skin enhancing vitamin E.  It has a slightly nutty flavour that is delicious drizzled over salads or rice dishes.  However, it can also be used to cook with as it has a higher smoking point than many oils so it's fine to grill, sauté or stir-fry with it.

Best oils for dressings, drizzling and dipping

Top rated - walnut oil
A delicious, aromatic, nutty oil that is a good source of omega three fatty acids and tastes delicious (used as a dip along side a good balsamic vinegar) as a dip for freshly torn, warm breads  for warm breads.  It's also great for drizzling over salads and risottos and goes really well with white fish, meat, mozzarella and goat's cheese. However, this oil tends to become bitter when cooked and can go off very quickly so buy in small quantities and store in a cool, dark place.

Best for vegetarians - linseed oil
Linseed oil is a much richer source of omega 3 than any other oil and a great choice for strict vegetarians who need to get omega 3 fatty acids solely from plant foods. Omega three fatty acids help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, increase concentration (particularly in children), alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and they may also help prevent Alzheimer's.  Linseed oil however, is not suitable for cooking as heat can make it taste bitter and it can quickly become rancid if it is not stored correctly (in a cool dark place).  Studies show that if this happens the benefits are negated and possibly reversed.

Best for drizzling - hazelnut oil
Hazelnut oil is a great source of Vitamin E which helps to maintain a heart health, good skin, a healthy reproductive system and a strong immune system.  Fairly pricey and not so readily available as many other oils it is worth seeking out either from your local health food store or on line to drizzle over salads, rice dishes or fresh pasta adding a delicious, subtle, nutty flavour.

Crème fraiche or single cream: which is healthier?

Top ten tips for being heartburn free forever

Battle of the bulge - are your genes to blame?

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

10 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.

Stop Paying Too Much For Your Prescriptions.

Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies. GoodRx finds the lowest prices and discounts. Compare prices, print free coupons & save up to 80%.

Did You Know Every New Car Has a Secret Price?

Don't pay MSRP! Save yourself both time & money on your new car purchase. Join 97,000+ others this month and find your lowest price for your new car!

Why Women Love This New Shopping Site

This site features names like Coach, SmashBox, and Kate Spade - and unlike Amazon or Gilt it's fast, fun and really exciting.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Free Sample Sites

Sign up now for freebies so good you will feel guilty not paying for them! No credit card or purchase necessary.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

Heartburn During Pregnancy

Dealing With Pregnancy is Hard Enough. Getting Heartburn While Pregnant is a Pain. Learn What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy.

Amazon Prime Video, Wherever You Go

Stream thousands of movies and shows. Watch anywhere, even offline.

Update Your Look: Bell Sleeves

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

“It works. Officers were at my home in minutes."

Built by the leading engineers in the country with revolutionary wireless technology... Engineered to make your home feel like a fortress...