Forget about the global oil crisis; the real problem is trying to discern the differences between different types of cooking oils. Wonder what all the different options in Usdan really are? Want to prove yourself more competent than your Food editors and never accidentally bake with olive oil? This guide is a general overview of oil that will hopefully help you in your culinary endeavors to come.


Olive Oil

Olive oil is perhaps the most common oil to use on a daily basis. It has a bold, standalone taste and complements and enhances the flavors of the dishes to which it is added. Although oil as a category is generally thought of as unhealthy, olive oil in moderation has many health benefits. These include boosts to the immune system, reductions in both cholesterol and blood pressure, and abundant antioxidants.

Olive oil is a good cooking oil due to its high smoke point, which means it can withstand the temperatures of most cooking without producing smoke and suffering a breakdown of its nutritional properties.

So what’s the deal with the “olive pomace oil” that found its way to the oil and vinegar table in the Usdan Marketplace? Essentially, there are different grades of olive oil based on its purity and quality. Extra virgin olive oil is the purest and has the highest quality. Olive pomace oil, on the other hand, has been exposed to solvents, or chemicals, and not only does it lack flavor, but as a result of the chemicals it may also pose health risks. It is cheaper, however.


Canola Oil

Canola oil has a light flavor and a high smoke point, which makes it versatile in cooking. Because of its unobtrusive taste, it can be used for baking in ways that olive oil usually cannot. It is lower in saturated fat than olive oil and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote cardiovascular health. There is some controversy about whether or not the canola seed’s derivation from the rapeseed plant makes it potentially toxic, though many reputable sources chalk up this possibility to a myth.


Vegetable Oil

“Vegetable oil” is an ambiguous label given to a blend of oils derived from, you guessed it, vegetables. Soybean oil makes up a majority of the content of vegetable oil, and the rest tends to be a blend of other cheap oils such as safflower, corn, palm, and sesame. Its most common use is in shortening, and it is used to improve the texture of baked goods.

Although vegetable oil has some heart-healthy properties, it also contributes to high cholesterol and has less redeeming nutritional value than its counterparts. It is also chemically processed, and some varieties are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.


Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is often used for its flavor, and light sesame oil is suitable for deep-frying because of its high smoke point. Sesame oil is a mixed bag of health properties, containing a high proportion of harmful omega-6 fatty acids, but also containing many nutrients and antioxidants.

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