Oils get a bad rap because of their primary ingredient: fat. But here’s the skinny on fat: your body needs it. Especially poly and monounsaturated fat to provide energy, help your body absorb nutrients, build cells and protect nerves, promote blood clotting and muscle movement and reduce inflammation, says Harvard Health. For all of those reasons, the South Beach Diet keto-friendly program requires healthy fat as a daily food requirement. Healthy oils are the perfect way to get in your daily Healthy Fats.
On your keto-friendly meal plan, you will be incorporating Healthy Fats throughout the day. When preparing your own DIY Meals, you will have the flexibility to be creative with your Healthy Fat servings. One of the easiest ways to do that is to simply cook with one of these eight healthy oils.
Since you will be using these oils in your cooking, it’s important to discuss and understand smoke points. A smoke point is exactly what it sounds like: The temperature in which an oil begins to smoke. According to Aboutoliveoil.org, overheated oils may burn and release toxic compounds that can damage your health. For this reason, we also recommend looking for cold-pressed versions of these oils if possible. In order to get all the amazing health benefits that these oils come with, we’ve provided their general smoke points and best uses in cooking below.
Read on to learn about eight healthy oils that can help you reach your weight loss goals:
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Smoke Point: 320°F
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and Vitamin E says Healthline. One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) counts as one serving on The South Beach Diet. At just 320°F, extra virgin olive oil will start to smoke. Due to its lower smoke point, either bring on low-and-slow browning or use it to make salad dressings, sauces or dips. Always store olive oil away from direct sunlight and heat. Use your olive oil to make this Creamy Pesto Dip >
2. Flaxseed Oil
Smoke Point: 225°F
Fatty fish like salmon or sardines—along with flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds—provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids. According to Harvard Health, omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that you must consume to fight inflammation and promote heart health.
Flaxseed oil (also called flax oil or linseed oil) is made from ground, pressed flax seeds. One tablespoon is one serving on the South Beach Diet and contains 7,196 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, says Healthline. If you’re not a fan of seafood, there’s no better way to stock up on your omega-3s.
At just at just 225°F, the smoke point of flaxseed oil is even lower than olive oil. It’s best to use it in the ways you would olive oil—in salad dressings, dips and sauces. Because it has a nutty, almost fishy flavor, flaxseed oil makes a killer Caesar dressing. It also works well for seasoning a cast-iron pan, says the magazine Bon Appetit. Refrigerate flaxseed oil for maximum shelf life.
3. Hemp Seed Oil
Smoke Point: 330°F
Hemp seed oil contains the most essential fatty acids of any nut or seed oil, says Bon Appetit. This super oil is typically derived from nutritious hemp hearts or unshelled hemp seeds. Bon Appetit explains that hemp seed oil should be used as a “finishing oil” due to its low smoke point. Avoid cooking or frying with this oil in order to protect its many health benefits. Thus, it’s best poured directly over salads and cooked vegetables or swirled into soup before serving. Like flaxseed oil, store this specialty bottle in the fridge and use one tablespoon as one Healthy Fat serving on the South Beach Diet.
Smoke Point: 485°F
Ghee, also known as clarified butter, has been around for ages. According to East Coast Polytechnic Institute (ECPI) University, it’s made by heating butter until the milk solids and water rise to the top. The milk solids and water are skimmed off, leaving pure butter known as ghee. This cooking process imparts a nutty flavor and darker color than typical butter. Along with major flavor, ghee also brings many nutrients and health benefits says ECPI University. Due to its higher smoke point of 485°F, ghee is great for frying and cooking and can substitute butter in any recipe.
Smoke Point: 420°F
Remember: A four-ounce glass of wine is permitted on the South Beach Diet. That’s not all the good news we have. A byproduct of wine, grapeseed oil, is a healthy oil extracted from leftover grape seeds. We wholeheartedly want you to add this oil among your Healthy Fat options.
Grapeseed oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E, says Medical News Today. Always seek out a cold-pressed oil because it’s less processed. However, don’t tiptoe around the stove. Unlike its olive, hemp and flax counterparts, grapeseed oil has a high smoke point of 420°F. It has a clean, almost flavorless taste making way for spices and more robust ingredients says Bon Appetit. It’s also one of the least expensive healthy oils on the shelf. Stock up!
Smoke Point: 520°F
Avocado oil is the natural oil pressed from the pulp of an avocado. It’s rich in healthy fats and antioxidants, says Healthline. Want to sear steaks over high heat? Avocado oil is the perfect choice. The smoke point of avocado oil is quite high at 520°F. Sauté, roast, sear or brush it over your grill grates. You can also use it in baking. If you want to mix up a quick salad dressing, you’ll be pleased there as well due to its mild and versatile taste.
Want a great burger? Use your avocado oil to make these Avocado Shrimp Burgers >
Smoke Point: 410°F
Sesame oil is the result of pressing sesame seeds. It’s high in vitamin E and antioxidants. According to Healthline, there are a few different types of sesame oil. Nutty and light in color, unrefined sesame oil should be used at low to medium temperatures. Refined sesame oil can handle higher temperatures (up to 410°F) associated with stir fries or other Asian-inspired dishes. Toasted sesame oil has already been cooked, so it is best as a finishing touch in salad dressings.
Smoke Point: 390°F
Here’s to more sautéing, roasting and searing. Macadamia nut oil is up to the task with a 390°F smoke point and mild, nutty flavor. According to Medical News Today, it’s versatile and can also be used for salad dressing and marinades. If you’re doing some baking, many chefs say macadamia nut oil is a terrific alternative to butter. Like the other healthy oils we’ve highlighted, macadamia nut oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamin E says Medical News Today. Just as you do with macadamia nuts, you’ll pay a premium for a bottle of macadamia nut oil. Be sure to store it in a cool, dark place for maximum shelf life.
* All smoke point values are provided by the Baseline of Health Foundation.