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Q. What is the healthiest oil to cook with?

A. Relative to other oils, canola (made from the seeds of a yellow-flowered plant) and olive oils are rich in monounsaturated fats—the kind that help reduce “unhealthy” LDL cholesterol and boost “healthy” HDL cholesterol. But new research suggests that virgin (and extra-virgin) olive oils—those produced purely by mechanically pressing the oil from olives, with no chemical processing—have an edge: antioxidants called polyphenols. Naturally found in olives (in red wine and green tea too), polyphenols mop up free radicals before they can oxidize LDL (oxidation makes LDL even more damaging to arteries).

In a three-week study of 200 men published recently in Annals of Internal Medicine, those who consumed just under two tablespoons a day of high-polyphenol virgin olive oil in place of other dietary fats registered larger increases in “good” HDL cholesterol and fewer markers of oxidative stress than men who consumed the same amount of “ordinary” olive oil, which had a very low polyphenol content. Chemical refining processes remove some polyphenols from “ordinary” olive oils (often labeled as “pure” in the U.S.) and other cooking oils, says Maria-Isabel Covas, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a researcher at the Municipal Institute for Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain.

Bottom line: Virgin olive oil doesn’t just taste better than plain old “olive oil,” it’s better for you too. (Great justification for splurging on a pricier product, no?) That said, any olive or canola oil is a heart-healthy choice—assuming you use it as a substitute for (not a complement to) saturated fats in your diet. If cost is a concern, go ahead and use refined olive oil or canola in cooking and save the virgin oil for cases that call for a high-impact fruity flavor (dipping bread, dressing salads, accenting soups).
—D. Milton Stokes, M.P.H., R.D.

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

Grape seed oil is equivalent nutritionally to olive oil but has more vitamin E, a more neutral flavor, and a high smoke point. All around better for cooking and some prefer it for salad oil, dipping etc.

Anonymous

07/09/2012 - 9:05am

No. YOU are the idiot.

Genetically modified foods (GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are much more precise than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. OTHER techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding, and somaclonal variation. Since genetically modified food has been introduced into supermarkets, there has been much controversy as to whether it is actually safe.

Typically, genetically modified foods are transgenic plant products: soybean, corn, canola, rice, and cotton seed oil.

Anonymous

07/09/2012 - 8:55am

I must say you guys are idiots. Do you know what genetic modification means? It means selectively breeding plants together its not like they are litterly splicing DNA. GMO is not death. Get off the doomsday band-wagon and eat things in moderation. A few smokes won't kill you.

Anonymous

06/27/2012 - 8:07pm

pop corn with coconut oil is heaven..everything with coconut oil is heaven..high smoke point...avocado and grapeseed also high smoke point..olive oil low smoke point which means starts smoking early on and becomes carcinogec..really our bodies are not even meant to ingest cooked foods..as far as longetivity goes only living things are supposed to go into living beings to keep LIVING

Anonymous

06/25/2012 - 2:07pm

This thread just goes to prove that the majority of people really don't have a clue what they are talking about. I suggest you all do your own research regarding healthy oils and fats and without a doubt the last person to take nutritional advice from is your doctor who has something in the region of 6 hours of nutrition classes during their lengthy training.

Whatever the media may say today or tomorrow or even next week - scientific facts regarding the make up of fats and their strengths and weaknesses are fact and not opinion and can be found in several places online.

Don't be duped by popular opinion.

Anonymous

06/17/2012 - 10:49am

for the celiac parent, my sister uses grapeseed oil for her popcorn. she says that is really good and healthy, good luck

Anonymous

06/07/2012 - 2:20pm

Canola oil is a very good lubricating oil, made from the rapeseed plant (poisonous) so has to be genetically modified to make it less poisonous. About 1990, England mixed it with hog feed and gave it to them. They went blind and developed very aggressive behavior. After 5 years they stopped giving it to them and everything returned to normal. It should not be used as a cooking oil.... No good.

Anonymous

06/07/2012 - 1:33am

Canola oil is genetically modified/genetically engineered in Canada in 1975-so stay away from that oil,even if label say organic; Use coconut oil for cooking, or ghee butter also known as clarified butter in moderation-good for popcorn or deep frying; extra virgin olive oil is the best cold pressed for salads,dipping and more. i would also say that sunflower oil, unrefined is okay if organic ,and last maybe organic butter in moderation for baking. Stay away from anything that GMO or exposed to high heat during the process, or refined. Generally speaking use oils that organic, cold pressed, unrefined, and sounds familiar. store them in fridge, except coconut oil, ghee butter, or oil that are in dark glass bottles-to protect from directs sun light. I never heard of canola oil, safflower oil, cotton seed oil/Crisco, soy and corn oil-?, most likely GMO- genetically modified. Use what our ancestors used before, just in moderation and you will be fine! :)

Anonymous

05/30/2012 - 5:33am

Well now I am confused :( I just want a great cooking oil that will be good for my little girl who is now a Celiac and for the rest of my family too! I know Olive Oil Rocks when uncooked but I need something to make popcorn in and bake with ect...

Anonymous

05/28/2012 - 1:11pm

All of you saying that Canola oil is the best, or even good, please take a time out.

Anonymous

05/24/2012 - 3:11pm

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