Oils are important ingredients for cooking, because they add flavor and texture to your foods. There are many different types of oils in the supermarket. They can come from seeds, vegetables, and plants, and each type has a special use in the kitchen.
The best thing about oils is that they can be healthy ingredients if you learn to use them wisely. These products contain unsaturated fatty acidsthat help keep your heart healthy. They also have a high content of vitamin E,an excellent antioxidant that improves the health of your hair, skin, and nails.
Remember that oils are high in fat: one teaspoon of oil has 45 calories and 5 grams of fat, equivalent to one serving of fat from your food exchange list.
Here are some of the types of oils you can find in the supermarket, along with their characteristics, nutrition information, and tips on how to use them.
- Olive oil: the color and flavor of olive oil vary according to the soil, climate, and preference of the producer. Its taste is strong and distinctive. The different types of olive oil - extra virgin, virgin, and pure - depend on its acidity. Pure olive oil has the mildest flavor. This type of oil has a high amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil can be used for the preparation of salad dressings; it's important to know that this type of oil is not recommended for frying, because excessive heat can destroy its nutritional characteristics.
- Corn oil: This oil has a flavor that's almost imperceptible. Therefore, it can be used for almost any type of preparation: frying, sautéing, or baking.
- Canola oil: It has a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids, like olive oil, and its popularity has considerably increased. This type of oil has the lowest amount of saturated fatty acids. Its neutral flavor makes it an excellent choice for cooking.
- Peanut oil: It maintains its characteristics even under high heat, which makes this type of oil a good option for frying foods at high temperatures. Its flavor is strong and it is mostly used in Asian cooking. You should be careful when using this type of oil if someone in your family is allergic to peanuts. Be careful when you use it for frying. Since you'll need to use it abundantly, the calories in your meal will increase considerably.
- Sesame oil: The flavor of sesame oil is extremely strong and very similar to the delicious taste of walnuts. Due to its particular taste, this type of oil is mainly used in Asian recipes ,but you can also use it for salad dressings.
- Sunflower oil: Compared to other vegetable oils, sunflower oil has a higher amount of vitamin E. It is widely used for cooking because of its mild flavor and versatility.
Labensky, S. & A. Hause. (2003) On Cooking. 3rd edition. pp175.
Reichenberger–McIndoo, H. (2007) Cooking with Oil. Today’s Diet&Nutrition Magazine. Volume 3, No. 3. USA. Pages 92 - 94
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