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Oils Buying Guide

We use oils for all sorts of things: frying, baking, stir-fries, salads and marinades. Question is, which oil is best for which purpose?


Olive oil is a solid source of monounsaturated fats and is best for low- to medium-heat cooking, in dressings, and marinades. For maximum flavour, look out for extra virgin olive oil. If you want another oil for low-heat cooking but without as much flavour, canola oil is an excellent choice as it has minimal aftertaste. Almond oil is becoming more popular because of its high levels of monounsaturated fat, and low levels of saturated fat. This oil has a strong flavour and aftertaste, so it’s best when used as a drizzle over vegetables, in salad dressings, or to make mayonnaise. 


Grapeseed oil is another popular choice these days. It's high in polyunsaturated fat, and can lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol. It has a light taste and is a very good multi-use oil. If you're cooking Asian food, or want to fry at a high temperature, go for peanut oil. It's great for cooking but it does have a higher saturated fat content than other oils. So too does rice bran oil, but it is free of trans fats. If you're frying chips, this is a good oil to use.


Finally, sunflower oil, whether it's polyunsaturated or monounsaturated, can help reduce cholesterol, is very versatile for cooking at all temperatures, and very good value for money. Meanwhile, the product sold as "vegetable oil" usually contains a blend of canola and soybean oil. It's cheaper than other oils, but also comparatively high in saturated fat.