Oil Spotlight

At a time when more and more consumers are reading labels and seeking out healthful choices, more and more food companies and foodservice operations are taking a closer look at what dietary fats and oils they allow in their kitchens1. However, the health claims of each of these oils vary dramatically. Here is a closer look at some of today’s most popular oils.

Canola Oil/Omega-9 Canola Oil

Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, which is primarily grown in North America. The plant contains pods with seeds, which are crushed to extract the oil. The oil is refined and bottled as canola oil. Canola oil is:

  • Liquid at room temperature
  • High in monounsaturated fat (61%)
  • Low in saturated fat (<7%)
  • Trans fat free

Omega-9 Canola Oil (high oleic) was developed by Dow AgroSciences for food manufacturers and foodservice professionals looking for a very stable solution with a healthful nutrition profile. It has removed more than 1.5 billion pounds of trans and saturated fat from the North American food supply since 2005. For more information, visit this blog or www.Omega-9Oils.com.

Palm Oil

In light of the FDA’s determination to ban partially hydrogenated oils, some food manufacturers are turning to palm oil as a solution. Although palm oil is functional, it is also high in saturated fat, which has long been linked to heart disease by raising bad cholesterol (LDL). Palm oil is:

  • Semisolid at room temperature
  • Naturally trans fat-free
  • More than 30% saturated fat

Palm oil is derived from palm trees, which are primarily grown in Southeast Asia. Beyond its health concerns, many environmentalists are worried about the negative impact unsustainable palm oil production is having on rates of deforestation, wildlife depletion and greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more about red palm oil, visit our blog.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has emerged as one of the trendiest purchases in supermarkets these days. Some of the claims connected to coconut oil include blood sugar control and assistance in weight loss. But when it comes to the science, researchers are not so sure coconut oil has the strong health benefits some claim it has. Coconut oil is:

  • Solid at room temperature
  • 86% saturated fat (highest of any oil)
  • High in medium chain saturated fats (lauric acid)

Medium chain saturated fats are used more quickly by the body for energy and don’t travel or build up in the blood stream; however, the science is still conflicted on how these fats impact heart disease and health risk. Coconut oil as a replacement for butter may be a smart choice, but adding it to your normal diet or replacing unsaturated oil with coconut oil is ill-advised. For more information on the latest coconut oil research, download the International Food Information Council’s fact sheet .

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is produced from grape seeds, which are a byproduct of wine-making. Its clean, light taste makes it ideal as an ingredient in mayonnaise, salad dressings, vegetable dips or sprayed on raisins. Grapeseed oil is:

  • Liquid at room temperature
  • Naturally trans fat-free
  • High in polyunsaturated fats

The research on grapeseed oil is still emerging, but recent studies show it may have antioxidant properties due to the polyphenols and flavonoids within the oil.

Seeking the Smartest Oil

Find the cooking oil that’s best for you by looking for those with more “good” fats and less “bad” fats. One serving of oil is equal to about one tablespoon and can provide up to 14 grams of good fats, depending on your oil of choice! The type of cooking application will also impact your choice. Use the tips below, along with several more in this blog to help you select the smartest oil:

  • Canola oil is a great choice for baking, frying, sautéing, and salad dressings.
  • Olive oil is a good choice for sautéing and stir-frying.
  • Corn, peanut, soybean and sunflower oil also are appropriate for frying, baking and salad dressings

1 IFIC 2014 survey results