3 Uncommon Oils You May Not Have Heard Of

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When it comes to cooking oils, you already know about olive, coconut and canola oil. In fact, many Food Insight posts discuss the nutritional benefits or misconceptions about those oils. But there are so many more cooking oils than just those three. Grape seed, walnut and avocado are three heart-healthy oils that can be used in place of the typical trio of oils found in the average kitchen.

Monounsaturated fatty acids for grapeseed, walnut, and avocado oilGrape Seed Oil: Grape seed oil is a light oil that is great for sautéing and roasting on medium heat.  Its light taste makes it a perfect alternative for strong-flavored oils like olive or peanut oil. Grape seed oil is high in polyunsaturated fat (mainly omega-6 fatty acids) and also contains monounsaturated fat (omega-9 fatty acids) too.  Both of these help to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. It even has a small amount of vitamin E, which neutralizes free radicals in the body and supports immune and heart health.

Walnut Oil: Walnut oil is unique in that it is mostly composed of polyunsaturated fats (some omega-3 fatty acids), while mainly containing omega 6-fatty acids, which may help to improve insulin sensitivity. Omega-6 fatty acids are also associated with lower blood levels and can help lower LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol. Walnut oil also contains small amounts of vitamin K, which can help blood clot and prevent excessive bleeding. It has a low smoke point, so it’s better left uncooked in salad dressing or dips.

Avocado Oil: If you do a lot of cooking with high heat, you should be familiar with avocado oil. It has a similar nutritional profile to olive oil, and due to its high polyunsaturated fatty acids for grapeseed, walnut, and avocado oilsmoke point, is perfect for frying, stir-fry, searing, and high temperature roasting. It contains mainly monounsaturated fatty acids such as omega-9 fatty acids, which may help to lower LDL and maintain HDL, or good, blood cholesterol levels.  Avocado oil is also is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

To get a good mix of heart-healthy oils and omega fatty acids, mix oils together. Also, follow the Dietary Guidelines, and try to limit oils high in saturated fats and replace them with foods that are high in poly- and monounsaturated fats.