Pantry Staple- Oils

Is it safe to assume you already have a variety of oils in your pantry? I thought so. Oils are used in so many different recipes, whether you are making a dressing, baking, oven roasting vegetables, or  sauteing something on the stove. Although this is a popular item in the kitchen, not all oils are created equally, and they each serve a different purpose. Continue reading to learn about the best oils you can chose, how to use them, and which ones you should try to minimize in your diet.

Olive Oil 
Lets start with olive oil. It is said that some of the healthiest people in the world follow what is known as the "Mediterranean Diet" which is incorporates a lot of olive oil into their daily lives. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower bad cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. When buying olive oil make sure you are buying extra virgin olive oil which is the highest quality available. Anyone remember the show 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray? She always referred to it as "E-V-O-O" so now I do too ;) Not only is EVOO good for your heart health, it is also good for the health of your brain due to it's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. EVOO is best used when making salad dressings, in marinades, or for sauteing. Olive oil doesn't have a high smoke point, so it isn't the best to use when oven roasting or grilling something.

Avocado Oil
Unlike olive oil, avocado has a high smoke point so it is great to use in dishes where you are grilling or roasting in the oven at a higher temperature. I like to use avocado oil when I roast vegetables or chickpeas. Avocado oil is a good source of healthy fats which benefits your heart and brain. Avocado oil is also very healing when used topically. I have a bottle of avocado oil from NOW Foods which I like to use on my face and body when my skin is super irritated or dry. This oil can also be beneficial for speeding up the process of healing wounds because it contains vitamin E. Avocado tends to be more expensive than other oils, but I promise you it is worth making a pantry staple, and even a bathroom cabinet staple!

Coconut Oil
Much like olive oil, when buying coconut oil be sure to buy the unrefined, virgin coconut oil which means it is in it's purest state. Coconut oil is also a source of healthy fat because it contains MCT's (medium chain triglycerides) which can help to boost your metabolism and burn more fat. I like to add a teaspoon or so of coconut oil in my coffee on occasion which makes for a creamy cup of coffee with added health benefits. Like avocado oil, coconut oil has a high smoke point which makes it ideal to use when roasting things in the oven. Coconut oil can also be used for beauty purposes such as, a hydrating hair mask, oil pulling which helps whiten your teeth, or as a natural eye makeup remover.

Flaxseed Oil
Unlike the other oils, flaxseed oil shouldn't be used for cooking purposes that involve heat as it has a very low smoke point. Flaxseed oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids which is necessary for healthy brain function, it helps to lower inflammation, reduces risk of heart disease, can aid in treating autoimmune diseases, and is overall good for maintaining healthy skin. There isn't much of a taste to flaxseed oil, so you can easily reap the health benefits by adding it to sauces, dips, dressings, or even into smoothies. Flaxseed oil can also be used topically to treat various skin issues like dryness, dermatitis, redness, and irritation.

Sesame Oil
Like many of the other oils, one of the biggest benefits of incorporating sesame oil into your diet is for the health of your heart. Sesame oil is rich in omega 6 fatty acids which helps prevent heart disease and lower your cholesterol. Sesame oil is most commonly found in Asian food dishes. It has a very distinct and potent taste to it, but it is very delicious! It is definitely an ingredient that is easy to pick out when used in any recipe. You might have predicted what I am about to say next, sesame oil isn't limited to only using in your cooking! Thanks to it's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, sesame oil is great thing to add to your skincare routine! This oil is great for treating irritated and acne prone skin, treating scarring, and it helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. If you like to use essential oils on your skin, try using sesame oil as a carrier oil. Simply add frankincense or lavender (or whichever oil you choose) to a nickle size amount of sesame oil and massage onto your face and neck. 

 Now that you know more about the oils I think should be a pantry staple for everyone, lets mention some oils you should try to limit your consumption of.
-canola oil
-sunflower oil
-refined palm oil
-hydrogentated oil
-vegetable oil
 Hydrogenated oils are commonly found in processed food, as it helps to extend the shelf life of the product. There are no health benefits to hydrogenated oils, and over time they can become damaging to your health. Be sure to check food labels so you can try to avoid products containing this. As for the other oils, a good rule of thumb is if it comes in clear/plastic packaging it is probably best to avoid :)

One final point I want to highlight is canned cooking sprays. Cooking sprays are a very convenient addition to your kitchen. Many popular cooking sprays contain additives that are usually genetically modified and propellant agents which are actually chemicals that help administer the product. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be spraying chemicals onto whatever I am about cooking. Thankfully for us consumers, we have so many options for cooking sprays these days, just be sure whichever one you are choosing is free of GMO's and propellants.

I hope you found this post to be enlightening! If you have any questions don't be shy :)

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