The Absolute Worst Cooking Oils for Your Health (And What to Use Instead)

Finding the best cooking oil for your health is a lot harder than you think. From the nutritional makeup to the smoke point, if you aren’t careful, many cooking oils can have a negative effect on health. The easiest way to ensure your cooking oil is healthy? Rule out the unhealthy. We share the worst cooking oils for your health, and what to try instead, below.

Extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil is one of the best cooking oils for your health. | Dulezidar/iStock/Getty Images

Worst cooking oils for your health

Oils aren’t considered as unhealthy as they once were. However, that doesn’t mean some aren’t bad for you. Case in point: There are still a few popular cooking oils that can have a negative effect on your health. Are any of these so-called worst cooking oils for your health in your pantry?

Vegetable oil

Even though vegetable oil is sourced from plants, it’s not exactly the best cooking oil for your health. That’s because most vegetable oils in the United States are ultra-processed. As a result, vegetable oil lacks both flavor and nutrients.

Canola oil

Like vegetable oil, canola oil is also made from natural ingredients. And while it contains the lowest amount of saturated fats — compared to other oils — it’s also hard to find in an unprocessed state. As a result, it lacks in nutrients and flavor and should be avoided. That said, if you can find cold-pressed canola oil, it contains monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which can benefit health.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is not the worst cooking oil for your health. However, because it’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids, it’s not the best either. Omega-6 fatty acids lead to inflammation in the body and, as a result, can compromise the health in some ways. If you must cook with sunflower oil, be sure to balance it out with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as they are anti-inflammatory.

Best cooking oils for your health

While some cooking oils might be bad for your health, there are still a handful of healthy cooking oils to choose from. And, these oils aren’t just safe, they’re chock full of beneficial nutrients, too. Replace the worst cooking oils for your health with these and reap the benefits of healthy fats, nutrients, and more.

Olive oil

As it turns out, one of the most popular cooking oils is also one of the best cooking oils for your health. That said, to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients, reach for an olive oil labeled “extra virgin.” That indicates that the substance is not refined and high quality — aka, better for you.

Olive oil is one of the most versatile and best cooking oils on the marking. According to research, it contains heart-benefiting ingredients such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and monosaturated fats. However, it has a low smoke point, meaning low and medium heat is safest. That said, olive oil is an excellent — and healthy — baking oil and can be used as a salad dressing, or added to lattes and other morning beverages for health benefits.

Coconut oil

In the wellness world, coconut oil is like gold. And while there have been some recent controversies surrounding its high saturated fat content, it’s not as bad as some accuse it of being. Some studies show that while saturated fat can have a negative impact on health, healthy saturated fat — such as coconut oil — might not be a bad thing. With a more recent rise in popularity, science doesn’t back a lot of the health benefits of coconut oil yet. But, that doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. All it means is you should consume it in moderation.

With that aside, coconut oil is chock full of health benefits. It can help the body burn more fat, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, can boost metabolic rate, is energizing, improves digestion, and more. On top of that, it has a high smoke point, meaning its an excellent cooking oil for high-heat or frying (though that should be done in moderation).

Avocado oil

Looking for the best cooking oil for your health? Avocado oil is hard to beat. With similar health benefits to olive oil and a smoke point like coconut oil, it features the best of both cooking oils. Rich in both antioxidants and healthy fats such as oleic acid, avocado oil can improve heart health, lower cholesterol, and aid in the absorption of beneficial nutrients among other things.

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