Which Is The Healthiest Oil For Cooking?

Whether you're sautéing fresh vegetables or roasting a chicken breast, how do you know which oil is best? In the video above, The Doctors' Dr. Travis Stork and Dr. Jennifer Ashton explain when it's best to use vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil or coconut oil.

"It's almost like we're back in chemistry class, because when you cook and heat these oils, certain oils under certain temperatures can actually oxidize and produce the free radicals that we're trying to combat," explains Dr. Ashton. "So it does matter; it's not just a taste issue."

Vegetable Oil:
This is the most popular of the four oils, but not the healthiest. "It's about 62 percent polyunsaturated fat," says Dr. Ashton, "which means when you heat it and cook it, it just oxidizes very quickly. I would put this at the bottom."

Canola Oil:
It's highly refined, explains Dr. Ashton, and only 15 percent saturated fat, so a bit of an improvement over vegetable oil.

Olive Oil:
"It promotes heart health, it promotes good cholesterol, while it can help lower your bad cholesterol," explains Dr. Stork. "That's why it's so good for things like dressings and dipping your bread in it." But, he cautions, it's more stable at medium temperatures. If you go above 350 degrees while cooking, it will start to break down, and it wouldn't be the best choice.

Coconut Oil:
When you're cooking with a high heat, choose coconut oil. It's the highest in saturated fat, which makes it the most stable. Interestingly, it's a solid at room temperature. "This is a great option if you're looking for a little bit of a sweet flavor," Dr. Stork suggests.

Dr. Ashton warns, "It's getting all the buzz right now, but that doesn't mean that because it's the relatively healthier option of all these that you can use half the jar."

Dr. Stork adds, "I would say my two favorites out there are olive oil and coconut oil -- they have different purposes. But what oil you use could be the difference between a healthy meal or a meal that is not so healthy."

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