Using a moderate about of oil is a healthy habit, but sorting out all the oils available at the supermarket can be daunting.
When it comes to cooking, oils that can handle heat, those with a high smoking point are good for frying. Those with low smoke points are better for salad dressings, drizzles or dips.
All plant oils are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are healthier choices than butter, stick margarine, bacon grease, or shortening which are higher in saturated fats and trans fats. All plant oils are trans fat free.
Canola has a high smoke point and a light flavor which makes it useful for almost any cooking purpose. It contains heart healthy omega-3 fats also found in fish oils.
Flaxseed rich in heart healthy omega-3 fats, it is a good vegetarian alternative to fish oil. Flaxseed oil has a low smoking point and is better used as a drizzle or to make salad dressing.
Avocado with a lovely green color and buttery, nutty flavor has a high smoke point and is over 70% monounsaturated fat. It can used for both cooking and salad dressing.
Peanut have a very high smoke point making it useful for deep fat frying. It is high in monounsaturated fat and contains vitamin E.
Walnut is high in alpha-linolenic acid that converts to omega-3 fat which makes it a heart healthy choice. With a low smoke point it is better used to flavor salads.
Coconut is higher in saturated fat than most oil. It is semi-solid at room temperature making it a good shortening or butter substitute for baking. It has a sweet flavor.
Corn is an all-purpose cooking oil with a mild flavor. It is high in polyunsaturated fats.
Sesame has a sweet nutty flavor and toasted or dark sesame oil offers a stronger more intense flavor and aroma. It goes well in Asian dishes and is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Pumpkinseed has a dark amber color and a rich nutty flavor. It is best used as a drizzle to finish a dish or in salad dressing.
Grapeseed is a byproduct of wine making. It is rich in monounsaturated fat and has a high enough smoking point so that it can be used for both cooking and salad dressing.
Sunflower is rich in polyunsaturated fats with little flavor and a light color. If refined it can be used for cooking. Unrefined it will break down at normal cooking temperatures.
Olive is rich in monounsaturated fat and can be used in both cooking, baking and for dressings. Extra virgin has a fruitier flavor and stronger aroma. Light olive oil is not lighter in calories, but lighter in color and flavor making it a better baking choice.
Vegetable is the all-purpose kitchen stand-by and usually a blend of soybean and other vegetable oils. It has a neutral taste and good tolerance to heat.