When cooking and eating, it’s important to choose the most heart-healthy oils. Oils are a form of fat. Our bodies need fat for energy, digestion, vitamin absorption, and more. But too much of the wrong kind of fat can lead to heart disease. Stock your pantry with the healthiest oils for every occasion!

What are the best types of oil for your heart?

  • Monounsaturated fats
    • Plant-based
    • Best oil to reduce risk of heart disease
  • Polyunsaturated fats
    • Plant-based
    • Contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the risk of heart disease

What are the worst types of oil for your heart?

  • Trans Fats
    • Man-made, listed as "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients list of packaged foods.
    • Increase risk of heart disease more than any other type of oil.
    • Examples are margarine, shortening, powdered coffee creamer and packaged bakery items
  • Saturated Fats
    • Solid at room temperature. Most are animal based, but some are plant based and man-made.
    • Increase risk of heart disease
    • Examples are butter, lard, animal fat, full-fat dairy, tropical oils (coconut, palm, palm kernel), and "fully hydrogenated oils." Small quantities of virgin coconut oil may be used for specific dietary needs. Consult your dietitian.

The chart below lists the best oils for specific uses.
(Each teaspoon of oil has 40 calories and 4.5 grams of fat)

Type of OilBrowning, Searing, Pan-FryingStir-Frying, BakingSauteing, SaucesDressings, Dips, Marinades
Almond OilX
Sunflower Oil (high-oleic)X
Canola OilX (high-oleic)X
Olive OilX (light or highly refined)XX (extra virgin)
Corn OilXX
Grapeseed OilX
Peanut OilXX
Sesame OilXX (toasted)
Flaxseed OilX
Walnut OilX
Avocado OilX

Why is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) better than regular olive oil?

Extra virgin olive oil contains more antioxidants when compared to refined versions of olive oil due to it being cold-pressed within 24 hours of picking the olives.

Is it ever OK to deep fry food?

No. Try lightly sautéing or stir-frying foods, instead, to bring out their true flavors.

Are cooking sprays safe?

Yes, according to the FDA. You can also fill a spray bottle with your favorite oil and use it instead of canned sprays.

Is it OK if my oil smokes in the pan?

No. If the oil starts smoking, get rid of it and start again so you aren’t exposed to toxic fumes and unhealthy byproducts. Vegetable, peanut and sesame oils can withstand high heat without smoking better than other oils can.

Can oil “go bad?”

Yes. Store oil in a cool, dark place. Put grapeseed and walnut oils in the refrigerator. Throw away any oil that smells bitter or “off.”

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/01/2019.

References

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. All About Oils. Accessed 1/2/2020.
  • Freeman AM, Morris PB, Barnard N, et al. Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2017; 9:1172-1187.
  • American Heart Association, Circulation 2017; 136:e1-e23, Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease, AHA Presidential Advisory .

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