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Vegetable oil is a common ingredient used in a wide variety of cooked and baked dishes. In fact, all Indian households use vegetable oil extensively in their day-to-day cooking. Vegetable oils are obtained from plants which include soybean, canola, sunflower, peanut etc. The vegetable oils that you'll find in the market are a blend of oils of different vegetables.
Studies have shown that vegetable oils are a source of edible fatty acids like saturated fat (SFA), monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) which play a vital role in cell division and growth and storing and providing energy. The intake of different types of fatty acids has a direct influence on your health, for example, increasing the intake of saturated fatty acids has been shown to elevate the risk of heart diseases . Thus, it is recommended to have diets low in saturated fat.
There are a number of substitutes for vegetable oil, which can be used for sautéing vegetables, baking cakes, frying foods and making sauces and marinades for salads. Have a look at some of the healthy substitutes for vegetable oil.
1. Olive oil
Olive oil tops the list of healthiest cooking oils. Used primarily in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is made from the fruits of the olive tree (Olea europaea). Olive oil predominantly contains monounsaturated fatty acids which have been shown to decrease the risk of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes  .
Best used for: Olive oil could be a great alternative for vegetable oil and can be used in sautéing foods, salad dressing or marinades. Also, olive oil has a low smoke point and a strong flavour, which shouldn't be used for cooking in high heat and baked recipes.
2. Avocado oil
Avocado oil is the oil extracted from the pulp of the avocado fruit (Persea AmericanaMill.). It contains a high amount of healthy monounsaturated fat and antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that avocado oil can aid in reducing blood pressure .
Another study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that adding avocado or avocado oil in salads and salsa can significantly increase carotenoid absorption .
Carotenoids have been linked to regulation of cell growth, improving eye health and causing death of cancer cells.
Best used for: Avocado oil has a high smoke point and a creamy, buttery flavour which is perfect for grilling, sautéing, stir-frying and baking as making dressings, sauces and marinades. And use avocado oil in small amounts while cooking.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a healthy and a great alternative to vegetable oil due to its light, nutty flavour and texture. Coconut oil is extracted from the flesh of the coconut(Cocos nucifera). It contains lauric acid, a saturated medium-chain fatty acid that has been associated with certain health-promoting properties .
At room temperature, coconut oil is solid, but when exposed to heat it melts.
Best used for: Coconut oil has a high smoke point, which makes it perfect for high-heat cooking and baking.
4. Flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil is extracted from flaxseeds (Linum usitatissimum). Studies have shown that flaxseed oil has the potent ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, autoimmune and neurological disorders .
Best used for: Flaxseed oil can't be used in cooking dishes that require heat because it's not heat-stable. However, it is a good choice for drizzling over grilled vegetables and using it as salad dressings and marinades.
5. Sesame oil
Most often overlooked, sesame oil extracted from sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum L.) is another healthy alternative to vegetable oil. In Chinese and South Indian cuisine, sesame oil is commonly used in cooking. Sesame oil has an array of health benefits such as improving heart health, healing burns and wounds, treating arthritis and so on .
Best used for: Sesame oil can be used in stir-frying foods and in sauces. However, it has a strong flavour, which is not ideal for baking.
6. Peanut oil
Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil is extracted from peanuts (Arachis hypogaea). The oil is an excellent source of vitamin E, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats . The high antioxidant and fatty acid content in peanut oil has been shown to fight off free radicals .
Best used for: Peanut oil has a high smoke point making it a great choice for stir-frying, grilling, broiling and using it in sauces, salad dressings and marinades.
7. Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil is another healthy substitute for vegetable oil, which is extracted from the seeds of grapes. The oil contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fats and moderate amounts of monounsaturated fats. Studies have shown that grapeseed oil possesses anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, cardioprotective and anticancer properties .
Best used for: Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point, which makes it a good choice for high-heat cooking like frying. It can also be used in grilling, broiling, marinades and sauces.
Other Healthy Substitutes For Vegetable Oil
Apart from the above-mentioned oils, you can use other alternatives for vegetable oil in baking. These include the following:
- Plain yogurt
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Mashed or pureed fruit
Q. What is the healthiest oil to use for baking?
A. Olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil are some of the healthiest oils that you can use for baking.
Q. What can I use instead of cooking oil?
A. You can use butter or ghee instead of cooking oil, but make sure to use it in small amounts.
Q. Can you use olive oil instead of vegetable oil for baking?
A. Yes, you can use olive oil instead of vegetable oil for baking recipes.
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