Piggybacking on the “food as medicine” and “fat is your friend” movements, oil love has exploded, says Geeta Maker-Clark, M.D., an integrative family medicine physician at North Shore University Health System in Evanston, Illinois. And it now involves way more than the reigning health champ, olive oil. Get to know these other slick picks.
What it does: Its unique antioxidants, coupled with compounds called lignans, may help control blood sugar as well as lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. When used in “oil pulling”â€”i.e., swishing it around your mouth for 10 minutesâ€”sesame oil might halt plaque buildup. Rubbing some on your skin could help ward off sun damage…but never use it as an SPF sub.
How to use it: A few times a week, use one-half to one tablespoon of unrefined toasted sesame oil while cooking with low to medium heatâ€”up to 350Â°F. Or drizzle the same amount on roasted veggies or Asian-style dishes.
What it does: As with olive oil, avocado oil packs anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s), which help protect your skin from the inside out by slaying free radicals. Eaten on the reg, it can also act like a tiny dose of natural ibuprofen, though research shows it works only for acute joint pain when combined with soybean oil in a supplement.
How to use it: It’s expensive. You’re better off skipping the oil and eating actual avocados (extra perk: fiber). If you do feel like splurging, refined cold-pressed avocado oil can make an effective dry skin moisturizer when applied topically.
What it does: It’s true that walnut oil, like fish oil, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Its particular kind, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), serves as a building block for the healthy fats that help regulate your immune and nervous systems. Studies show walnut oil may also help keep your stress levelsâ€”and blood pressureâ€”in check, protecting your heart.
How to use it: Cooking with heat may eliminate its health properties, so always use it cold. Drizzle one to two tablespoons of cold-pressed walnut oil over pasta, veggies, or salad greens. And along with sesame oil, store this one in the fridge; it can go rancidâ€”fast.
What it does: Coconut oil’s star power comes from lauric acid and saturated fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s). Some docs believe that lauric acid makes the oil an effective oral rinse or topical antimicrobial. But it’s the MCT’s that show the most promise: Studies indicate they could balance cholesterol, improve digestion, even reduce belly fat.
How to use it: Swallow two to three tablespoons, max, per day. (Most of these oils pack 120 calories per tablespoon.) If you like it chilledâ€”e.g., in smoothiesâ€”buy expeller-pressed virgin coconut oil. Use a refined type for medium- to high-heat cooking.MYNEWSHUB/Women’s Health