Which oil is the healthiest?

Oils are a staple in the kitchen, from frying to baking to salad dressings. But when it comes to your health, not all oils are equal. 

It’s impossible to say which type of oil is the ‘healthiest’ overall, because everyone has slightly different nutritional needs. However, generally speaking, it’s the type of fat in an oil, known as its fatty acid profile, that we use to measure its nutritional value.

Different types of oils have different structures, meaning they react differently when cooked at high heat. The fatty acid molecules in saturated fats have a single bond, monosaturated fats have a double bond, and polyunsaturated fats have two or more bonds.

Polyunsaturated fats are less stable when cooked, meaning they are more likely to oxidise and produce harmful compounds and free radicals. For this reason, it’s best to use saturated or monounsaturated fats when cooking, as they are more heat resistant.

However, eating foods that contain saturated fats raises LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Eating more than four grams of saturated fat a day has been linked to increased risk of heart disease. Using omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats is a healthier alternative for the heart.

These four oils have been ranked the healthiest by Refinery29.

Olive oil
Olive oil is high in ‘good’ monosaturated fatty acids. It’s a staple in the healthy Mediterranean diet, known for prolonging life and improving mental health.

Corn oil
Rich in omega-6 fatty acids and containing vitamin E, corn oil copes well at high temperatures, so is a healthy alternative to other cooking oils.

Soybean oil
Made from polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, soybean oil copes well under heat, earning it a spot in your kitchen cabinet.

Canola oil
While canola oil is high in monounsaturated fats, omega-6 and omega-3, it also tends to be highly processed. What’s more, concerns have been raised about links between canola oil and canola butter with macular degeneration, increased inflammation, memory loss and poor heart health. When it comes to using canola oil, tread with caution.

What types of oils do you keep in the kitchen? Do you worry about how healthy or harmful they may be?

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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