Take heart: There are a handful of other healthy oils that you can use if olive oil is inching out of your budget or is not in stock where you shop.
Advertisement
woman pouring olive oil over a salad
Credit: Getty Images

Olives, and the oil made from the Mediterranean diet staple, are mainstays in the EatingWell Test Kitchen and in our editors' home pantries. In fact, olive oil earned a spot among our top 9 best Mediterranean diet foods.

In addition to being remarkably versatile and tasty, consuming just ½ tablespoon per day (or more) of olive oil has been linked to lower risk for death from heart disease, cancer, dementia and lung disease, according to a health study that we reported on early this year.

As much as we love drizzling it into salad dressings, using it to start pasta sauces and crown dips, mixing it into tender cake batter and featuring it as a herb-spiked dunking option for bread, sometimes the cost of a bottle of olive oil is a bit tough to swallow. Especially when you make a concerted effort to seek out a sustainably made—and actually real—olive oil.

And it's about to get a lot more pricy to purchase your usual bottle, especially if it's from three of olive oil's major regions of production: Spain, Italy and Portugal. As a result of extreme temperatures and lack of rains this summer, in tandem with production delays related to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, olive oil prices might jump about 20% to 25% in the next three to four months, according to a recent BBC News report. For example, that means a 750-milliliter bottle of Ina Garten's go-to Olio Santo Extra-Virgin Olive Oil might hop from $40 to $50.

Admittedly, nearly every item at the supermarket is getting more expensive. For comparison, the USDA expects the average rate of food inflation in 2022 to land at around 9%. So you're probably familiar with seeing your receipt total rise. But if the olive oil isn't where you want to make the extra investment right now, it's simply not within your food budget right now or you're having a tough time finding olive oil due to less supply in your area, there are some stellar alternatives that also deliver some health benefits.

5 Heart-Healthy Cooking and Finishing Oil Alternatives to Olive Oil

1. Peanut Oil

More affordable than olive oil but with about just as many health benefits, according to Birmingham, Alabama-based registered dietitian and EatingWell contributor Brierley Horton, M.S., RD, peanut oil is rich in vitamin E and resveratrol. The latter is a heart-healthy antioxidant that can help reduce risk for heart disease and stroke. Since peanut oil has a high smoke point, it can take the heat in uses like stir-frying, searing and baking.

2. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is nutty in flavor and potent in sesamol and sesaminol, two heart-healthy antioxidants that research hints might decrease risk for heart disease, certain cancers, liver conditions and more. Plus, sesame oil has some anti-inflammatory properties. Try sesame oil in sauces and for sautéing, or get a small bottle of toasted sesame oil to use in marinades or as a finishing oil.

3. Flaxseed Oil

Rich in heart-healthy alpha-linoleic omega-3 fats, flaxseed oil might aid in lowering cholesterol, research suggests. It's best to use in raw formats, including dressings and dips.

4. Walnut Oil

Walnut oil is ideal for using in raw forms or as a finishing oil, and consuming it has been correlated with better overall heart health, less chronic inflammation and smaller blood pressure fluctuations in stressful situations, according to several studies.

5. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is made up of nearly 75% oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. That means that, just like the fruit it's extracted from, avocado oil might reduce risk for heart disease the FDA says. Research suggests that it maintains its health benefits at low and high temps, so feel free to use avocado any way you might use other cooking fats.