3 heart-healthy oils you may not have used yet

The world of healthy oils goes beyond extra virgin olive oil. There are many alternative oils with great benefits and different uses.  The oils on our short list can be less processed and more natural if you know what to shop for.  Alternative cooking oil use has been on the rise and there are a lot of recipes that call for it. Take a look at the benefits and see if trying a new oil is for you.

Coconut oil

Benefits: Coconut oil is shelf stable and solid up to 76°. It raises HDL, or “good” cholesterol. The reduction of triglycerides and LDL, “bad,” cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease. Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties are found in this tropical oil, aiding overall health.

What to look for: Shop for oil that is pressed, not chemically extracted, and cold processed. To avoid chemicals, it’s best to buy organic oil.

Uses: Baking and light sautéing can be improved with a little flavor from coconut oil. Try making chocolate chip cookies with coconut oil instead of butter for a delicious change.

Avocado oil

Benefits: Avocado oil has vitamins A, D and E and is loaded with monounsaturated fats, which can help block triglycerides and absorption of dietary cholesterol into the bloodstream to keep your heart healthy. The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 and antioxidants reduces blockage in blood vessels and plaque formation.

What to look for: Buy avocado oil that is made of the fruit only, not the skin or the pit.

Uses: With a smoke point near 490°, avocado oil is good for sautéing and cooking on the stovetop. It also makes flavorful salad dressing.

Macadamia nut oil

Benefits: Because macadamia nut oil is high in monounsaturated fats, it lowers LDL cholesterol and maintains HDL cholesterol. While both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids – our bodies can’t make them on their own – most modern diets are omega-6 heavy. Macadamia oil, being low in omega-6 fatty acids, can help balance other areas of the diet and lend a hand in maintaining a healthy weight.

What to look for: Nut oil should be expeller pressed, without added heat. The heat used to get the oil out of the nuts can be too hot and destroy the nutritional value of the oil.

Uses: This nut oil has a fairly high smoke point, around 420°, so it can be used for pan cooking and sautéing, as well as cooking at lower temperatures. Macadamia nut oil can add nutty flavor to salads and is good when lightly misted for searing fish.

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