Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsBotany · 1 decade ago

Vegetable, Canola, Corn, Olive, Peanut, you name it. Why should I use one oil over...?

...another? What's the difference?

And what are the pros/cons in regards to health?

I know olive oil is supposed to be a little more healthy. What about all the oils that boast about the omega 3s and stuff?

What about all the other oils (Veg, Corn, Canola, etc), why are they so unhealthy?

Why should or shouldn't I be using any of the above oils?

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    We'll start with saturation. It has to do with how much hydrogen there is in the fat. In general, animal fats are saturated with hydrogen, and vegetable fats are not. Saturated fats are thicker, often solid at room temperature, and have been linked to heart disease, possibly because they cling better to the sides of your blood vessels.

    The unsaturated fats are therefore somewhat healthier, but it's a misnomer to call them "healthy". They're still full of calories, and too many calories makes you fat.

    The monounsaturated fats (nearly saturated but missing only one hydrogen) are often considered healthier, but the reasons aren't well known. The main monounsaturated fat is olive oil, and it has been linked to good health, but the reasons aren't well known. It may have nothing to do with the fat itself and everything to do with the kinds of diets eaten by people who eat more olive oil.

    Unsaturated fats are "kinked" where there is a double bond rather than a hydrogen. Those kinds often occur at the 3rd or 6th carbon, and we call those omega-3 and omega-6. Again, omega-3 isn't especially healthy, but people tend to eat far too much omega-6, which has been linked to health problems. Adding omega-3 isn't really a solution to the problem, since it just adds calories and makes you fat, but replacing omega-6 with omega-3 may be helpful.

    Most vegetable seeds are high in omega-6, and the green parts have more omega-3. So oils are omega-6, and because we raise our meat animals on grains made with those same vegetables, they also tend to be high in omega-6. That includes all of the oils you mentioned (vegetable, soybean, corn, canola, peanut) except olive. People are encouraged to eat sources of omega-3 (especially fish) and animals raised to increase omega-3s (those raised on pasture rather than concentrated foods), as well as certain fruits and vegetables.

    One other thing you didn't ask about: trans fats are what you get when you add saturation to unsaturated fats by hydrogenation. These are particularly problematic, for reasons that are not entirely clear. They're still unsaturated, but the trans shape of the fat seems to cause a lot of problems, perhaps because it doesn't occur in nature.

    And as for the oils you mentioned: there's no real health benefit to corn, canola, etc. oil. Use whichever one happens to have the flavor for what you're trying to cook, and what's affordable. Peanut is expensive but has a nice flavor; canola is cheap but is nicely neutral for when you don't want your food to taste like corn or soybean oil. Vegetable oil is made of whichever of these happened to be cheap that day at the plant.

    You also choose an oil based on its smoke point, if you're deep frying.

    So, to sum up: none of those oils is especially healthy, except perhaps for olive, and even then you have to use it in moderation because it's full of calories. (They all have the same number of calories.) Eat more vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, and you won't really have to worry about what kind of oil you use.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    My wife got some of that "heart healthy" Bisquick and dislikes it. Read the ingredients label. The original Bisquick contains Soybean/Cottonseed oil. The "heart healthy" contains Canola oil. Soybean oil will have more flavor than Canola.

    However, the real argument is not the omegas nor anything else but the one thing most commonly done to oils: the normal Bisquick has "Partially hydrogenated Soybean/Cottonseed oil." Oops. The "Heart Healthy" has non-hydrogenated Canola. The Canola isn't the healthy part; the not being hydrogenated is, as that running hydrogen gas thru the oil (invented to lower the solidification temperature, making potato chips possible) has been shown to be very harmful to the heart and circulatory system. Well, duh. If it solidifies at a lower temperture outside the body, it's solidifying at a lower temperature inside the body, too. Sheesh.

    The rest of your question is that peanut oil and olive oil have better flavors, and I prefer cooking with the latter.

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  • M M T
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    The choice of oils to use in cooking is usually based on what role the oil plays in the prepared dish. A salad dressing or marinade will benefit from the flavor of olive oil; using a flavorless oil could leave the item tasting flat. If you're just briefly doing a pan saute, olive oil will once again add flavor to the finished dish.

    Actually canola oil is higher in Omega 3's than olive oil. And it has a high smoke point which makes it a good candidate for frying or using in a hot skillet for searing. Peanut oil also has a high smoke point which is why it's often recommended for things like deep frying a turkey in one of those big fryers.

    And there are some nut oils such as walnut or almond oil to name a couple. Walnut oil can be a wonderful addition to a salad dressing and almond oil is often used in cosmetic preparations.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Isn’t it confusing!? Here are my suggestions based on knowledge of oils...

    A quick Summary:

    -Use Butter, Coconut Oil or a "high heat" safflower or Canola oil for higher heat cooking for max nutrition.

    -Use Olive or canola for lower heat cooking or raw (dressings)

    -Omega-3's (flax seed oil, etc) - never heat. Only use raw.

    More details....


    Oils can be refined or unrefined. If it is unrefined, a lot of the flavor will shine through. You would only want to use peanut oil, for example, if you desired a peanut flavor.

    Nutrition before cooking:

    The oils boasting being "healthier" generally have a higher ratio of unsaturated fat to saturated fat. (Olive, canola, corn, etc.) Saturated fat is implicated in many health problems, like high cholesterol and atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries" that can lead to heart attack or stroke.) Generally oils that stay liquid at room temperature are mostly unsaturated (i.e. good) and oils and fats that get stay hard at room temp are higher in saturated (Butter and coconut fat).

    The general concensus on Omega-3’s is that we need more in our diets. The best sources of omega 3’s are generally not sold in a bottle for cooking with, but rather they are in fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines. They can also be found in omega-3 eggs (chickens were fed flax seed) and grass fed beef.

    Nutrition after cooking

    So here is the real differentiator:

    Fat that has reached its smoke point when heated can be oxidized. Oxidized fat is not good for us. The "healthiest" (unsaturated and omega-3’s) have very low smoke points. So we certainly don’t want to take a nice healthy oil, then heat it too high, making it unhealthy! So in this case, it is important to choose an oil based on what you are going to do with it.

    If it is to be consumed cold (salad dressing or drizzled on bread), go for the unsaturated and omega-3 options.

    If it is to be heated, use a handy chart like this one (below) to decide what the most healthiest option would be for the temperature you’re cooking to:

    That is a guide that can be downloaded. Also, the brand of oils "Spectrum" have little thermometers on each bottle so you can tell what the max cooking temp is when you buy them at the store.

    Happy cooking!

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    A recommended ratio is to use 1 tablespoon of butter for every 5 tablespoons of lard. .... Use olive oil in breads, both yeast and quick, in some cakes and cookies. ... Most vegetable oils, such as corn, safflower, and peanut, have smoking ... I prefer to use canola oil, but you can use any vegetable oil you prefer ...

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I believed that Canola oil is supposed to be the healthiest but what I have found is that is has less taste. Using Olive Oil for dressings and Canola for Stir Fry is what seems to be a good cross mixture.

    Healing Daily says:

    The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidative substances. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels. (1-3) No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated as olive oil -mainly oleic acid.

    Extra virgin - considered the best, least processed, comprising the oil from the first pressing of the olives.

    Virgin - from the second pressing.

    Pure - undergoes some processing, such as filtering and refining.

    Extra light - undergoes considerable processing and only retains a very mild olive flavor. Both oils contain the best fat composition, with canola being slightly better than olive oil. Sure, both types of oil has many uses, where olive oil is especially good for dressings, and canola oil for stir-frying. However, canola oil is a clear winner for many purposes mainly because it has very little (if any) taste of its own.

    Canola oil is NOT harmful to your health, and it can actually help you achieve a better diet.

    The reason Canola oil is good is because of its fat composition. You should know that there are 3 types of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated... and 2 of the 3 types of fats are actually 'healthy' fats, and they're actually helpful to your health. Saturated fats is the bad type you want to avoid. The other two types actually help control the level of cholesterol!

    Another Site says.(the Wall St Journal)...

    Canola oil has the best fatty acid ratio. Meaning that canola oil has the best fat ratios of the 3 types of fats in all cooking oil. Research has show that the fatty acid composition of canola oil is most favorable in terms of health benefits. It has lowest levels of saturated fat (7% - bad type), high in monounsaturated fat (61%-good type), and about 22% in polyunsaturated fat (also good.)

    You Omega's should come from Fish or a supplement...The ALA are the least documented. The EPA and DHA are more studies. The later two come from fish. The ALA is plant based. All benefit it's just that the ALA are less studied.

    But I have heard that if you coat you food first inseat of putting the oil in the frying pan that it might not burn off all of the beneficial factors. When you heat the oil it changes the molecules and therefore has less beneficial factors.

    So that had me a little bit confused. Mostly, I was thinking that canola oil was looking to be healthier than olive oil because it has less fat in general and less of the "bad fat" than olive oil has. But then I looked into the issue even further and I found out that canola oil has considerably more polyunsaturated fat than olive oil, enough to make a huge difference between the two oils. While polyunsaturated fats aren't necessarily "bad fats", it's better to have less of them than more. And while we're on the topic of having more fat, canola oil also has some additional fats in there that are really bad trans fats.

    So, I was open minded and I did my research but as far as I'm concerned, olive oil is still the way to go. It might have a little bit more of the bad fats but it has less fat in general than canola oil does and it doesn't have the really bad stuff. If I was someone who used a lot of butter, then I could see the benefit of switching from that to canola oil. As far as the oils go, it's not a bad one. But I'm sticking with olive oil.

    Olive oil versus canola oil Do not fall into the hype which is put out by traditional medicine regarding the promotion of canola oil (rapeseed) as superior due to its concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil is far superior and has been around for thousands of years. Canola oil is a relatively recent development and the original crops were unfit for human consumption due to their high content of a dangerous fatty acid called euric acid.

    If the taste of olive oil is a problem, or if you are frying or sautéing food, then you should consider coconut oil. Many nutritionally misinformed people would consider this unwise due to coconut oil's nearly exclusive content of saturated fat. However, this is just not the case. Because it has mostly saturated fat, it is much less dangerous to heat. The heat will not tend to cause the oil to transition into dangerous trans fatty acids.

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