A Healthy Substitute for Olive Oil

Many recipes call for olive oil, from dressings to marinades to stir-fry. While olive oil is flavorful and high in healthy fats, it can be expensive. Trying your favorite recipes with other healthful oils may save you money and can add different flavors to your favorite dishes. A bit of oil is essential for a healthy diet, but since all oils contain fat, be careful to use no more than a recipe calls for.

Oils such as this palm fruit oil is a healthy substitute for olive oil. (Image: dolphfyn/iStock/Getty Images)

Canola Oil

Like olive oil, canola oil contains monounsaturated fats, which reduce your levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol and raise your levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. Canola oil can be used in many of the same ways as olive oil, such as in salad dressings and for roasting vegetables or frying protein. This oil is made from a plant called rapeseed. According to Whole Living magazine, this plant is often sprayed with pesticides, so choose a bottle of canola oil that's labeled as organic so you don't ingest dangerous chemicals.

Sunflower and Safflower Oils

Sunflower and safflower oil may not already be sitting in your cabinets, but they should be. These types of oil are both high in vitamin E, which contains disease-fighting antioxidants. Safflower and sunflower oils are also high in healthy monounsaturated fats, and they have a mild flavor so they can be used for a variety of purposes. Another benefit of these oils is that they both have a high smoke point, which means they can be heated to a high temperature without burning, so they're ideal for sautéing and frying.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is often used for frying because of its mild flavor and high smoke point, but it can also be substituted for olive oil in salad dressings and marinades. This oil is also handy because it stays fresh for longer than other types of oil, so it's ideal if you don't cook with oil frequently. Look for a brand marked as expeller-pressed. According to Real Simple magazine, oils made by this process will contain fewer chemicals than other brands.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil has a stronger flavor than olive oil, but it has a variety of health benefits that make it a smart finish for a number of dishes. This oil, which is derived from sesame seeds, contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils as well as vitamin E. Your local grocery store may carry both light and dark sesame oil; dark oil has more antioxidants as well as a deeper, nuttier flavor. It's a delicious finish for Asian dishes. Use sesame oil for stir-fry, in salad dressings or use it to marinate protein for dishes with Asian flavors.

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