When it comes to nutrition, the healthiest oils to cook with are those rich in monounsaturated fat.

Known as the “good for you fats”, monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy fatty acids that help keep cholesterol levels in check, and can be found in peanut, canola, olive, avocado and almond oils.

Sometimes overlooked, cooking oils can help make healthy eating exciting. Some oils are good for cooking at high temperatures, while others are better for marinades and salads. The good news is that peanut oil is good for both! Peanut oil offers a number of health benefits: it’s trans-fat- and cholesterol-free and is a source of vitamin E, which promotes good heart-health. It stands up well to high temperatures for stir-frys and sautéing, and is also a flavourful option for marinades and salads. It’s also important to note that refined peanut oil (not cold pressed or extruded) does not contain the protein that causes allergic reactions.

In fact, new research from Purdue University shows that the type of fat used in dressings has a major impact on how well fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients of fruits and vegetables in salads are absorbed. A study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that dressings rich in monounsaturated fat required the least amount of fat to get the most carotenoid (basic organic metabolic building blocks) absorption, while dressings with higher levels of saturated and polyunsaturated fats required larger amounts of fats to get the same benefits.

In the study, the research team served 29 subjects a salad topped with a saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat-based dressing and tested their blood for absorption of fat-soluble vitamin compounds. Results indicated that monounsaturated fat-based dressings such as peanut, canola and olive oil-based dressings were the most healthful choices. FoodNavigator-USA.com provides more detailed information on the study.

Sources: FoodNavigator-USA.com, Globe and Mail and Telegraph-Journal

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