Why It’s Great: Extracted from the meat of fresh coconuts, this tropical oil is a great source of the medium-chain saturated fat, lauric acid, which converts into energy more easily than other types of fat. Picking coconut oil over other less healthy fats, like lard and margarine, means less flubber is apt to be stored on your frame.
How to Use It: This trendy oil can be used for anything you might use butter for, from frying to baking; use it for cookies, cakes, and pancakes. It’s so healthy; you’ll find it goes with most smoothies. It also tastes great on toast and drizzled over homemade baked sweet potato “fries” with a bit of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Coconut oil breaks down when exposed to super high temperatures, so don’t deep-fry with it.
Why It’s Great: Peanut oil is loaded with a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid (OEA) which can help reduce appetite and promote weight loss. Plus, research out of the University of California, Irvine, found that this particular type of fat boosts memory. Don’t forget it next time you cook.
How to Use It: Because of its high smoke point, peanut oil should be your go-to oil for frying and many high-heat tasks like wok-cooking and pan-searing.
Why It’s Great: Made from pressed avocadoes, this oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that may help improve cholesterol and ward off hunger. It also contains vitamins B and E and bloat-banishing potassium—it’s no surprise that it’s one of the preferred Paleo diet fats.
How to Use It: Like a salad oil. The oil has a mild nutty taste and a light avocado aroma. It works well drizzled over breads, fish and homemade pizzas. It also pairs nicely with watermelon, grapefruit and oranges. Add some to your fruit salad to create a new twist on a classic dish.
Macadamia Nut Oil
Why It’s Great: You’ll have to hunt around in the specialty stores for it, but this bold and buttery oil may be the healthiest you’ll find: Eighty-four percent of the fat in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated, and it has a very high percentage of omega-3s fatty acids. It’s also a source of phytosterols, a plant-derived compound that has been associated with decreased cancer risk.
How to Use It: Due to its medium to high smoke point, macadamia nut oil is best suited for baking, stir frying and oven cooking. For a quick snack, toss slices of sweet potatoes with the nut oil and bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until crispy.
Why It’s Great: Extra virgin olive oil may increase blood levels of serotonin, a hormone associated with satiety. Plus, olive oil is also loaded with polyphenols, antioxidants that help battle many diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and brain deterioration.
How to Use It: Expensive extra-virgin, with its robust flavor, should be saved to dress salads, vegetables and cooked dishes. For cooking purposes, regular or light olive oil is sufficient.
Why It’s Great: Recently making a splash on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves, this oil has a rich nutty, roasted flavor. A small Pennsylvania State study found that a diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil may help the body respond better to stress and can also help keep diastolic blood pressure levels down. Walnut oil is also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which may increase diet-induced calorie burn and resting metabolic rate (the calories we use to keep our heart pumping and body running). And walnuts have more omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut.
How to Use It: Mix with sherry vinegar, olive oil, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper to make a salad dressing. This oil doesn’t do well under heat, so it shouldn’t be used for hot surface cooking or high temperature baking.
Why It’s Great: Canola, derived from the seeds of a plant in the broccoli family, comes in toward the top of our list with its near-perfect 2.5:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. According to a study review published last year in Experimental Biology and Medicine, people who achieve a dietary ratio similar to this have been able to battle cancer, arthritis and asthma more effectively. It’s also rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid that may play a role in weight maintenance, according to a recent study.
How to Use It: This is the best option for everyday cooking situations. Canola oil can withstand relatively high levels of heat, and its flavor is fairly neutral, so it won’t dominate a dish.
Why It’s Great: Also known as linseed oil—yes, the stuff you used in art class—this fat contains ALA, an an essential omega-3 fatty acid that can aid weight maintenance and may reduce heart disease risks by promoting blood vessel health and reducing inflammation. This oil can also be used topically to fight carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a 2014 Iranian clinical trial.
How to Use It: Flaxseed oil doesn’t hold up well when exposed to heat. Drizzle it on top of salads or use it instead of olive oil or mayo when whipping up pesto’s, tuna salads and sauces.