It’s essential to consider the cooking oils you use regardless of your diet. However, it’s extra-essential for people who follow a plant-based diet, who often rely on oil to provide the nutrients and minerals they’re not getting from their food products.
The good news is that all the oils you will likely come across in a store are plant-based. The bad news is that not all oils are created equal, and some won’t provide the healthy goodness you should look for in your cooking oil. If you’ve been asking yourself, ‘What oils can you use on a plant-based diet?’ this page is for you. Below, we’ll run through everything you need about oils if you’re following a plant-based diet.
Healthy Cooking Oils for Plant-Based Diets
If you’re following a plant-based diet for health reasons, finding the right cooking oil will be essential to getting the most nutrition from your meals. Some people think they’re eating a deliciously healthy meal without realizing the nutritional value has taken a hit due to the oil they’ve used.
If you’re looking for the best when it comes to healthy cooking oil, choose avocado oil. You’ll pay more, but it packs a powerful nutritional punch. Studies have shown that it’s good for the heart and mind and can keep your skin youthful. It’s also a versatile oil that you can use for baking, sauteing, or dressing.
Essential Oils to Enhance Plant-Based Recipes
Two ways using the right oil can enhance the quality of your meals: taste and nutritional value. The best oils for plant-based recipes combine the two to create a dish that is as healthy as possible while ensuring that the taste is on point.
Some of the most popular oils for plant-based recipes include:
Olive oil is the standard cooking oil for a reason. Jam-packed with a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals, it can be extremely good for you, though it’s important to buy a good brand to get all the nutritional value. Plus, it tastes great — though, again, this depends on the brand.
Walnut oil has, as you might guess, a nutty taste. While not suitable for all dishes, it can make all the difference for salads, pastas, and other nut-friendly dishes. It’s also as good for you as nuts are, delivering a high dose of antioxidants and vitamins.
Looking to add a lovely toasted flavor to your dish? Then try almond oil, which tastes great and has plenty of good-for-you fatty acids and vitamin E.
Nutrient-Rich Oils to Boost Your Plant-Based Meals
You can maximize the health qualities of your dishes by using nutrient-rich cooking oil. Plenty of good-for-you oils are on the market and available in all price ranges. If money is no concern, or you don’t mind spending slightly more on cooking oil, then look at avocado oil. It has a neutral taste, which means you can use it in just about any dish, and it’s jam-packed with vitamins and minerals.
Chia oil is another popular option with health fanatics. A high smoke point makes it a good option for sauteing salads and pasta dishes. Just note that it’s not as fiber-boosting in oil form as in seed form, so you may want to top up your fiber elsewhere.
Untoasted sesame oil — not toasted sesame oil — contains plenty of antioxidants and unsaturated fats (don’t worry about the name: they’re good for you). Studies have shown that untoasted sesame oil is also good for the heart and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Exploring Different Oils for a Plant-Based Lifestyle
You’ll have plenty of cooking oil options if you’re following a plant-based lifestyle. Virtually every oil you’ll find in the shops will be entirely plant-based. A few animal cooking oils are on the market, but they’re rare — and you’ll nearly always know just from the packaging. The best cooking oils for plant-based lifestyles, based on taste and nutritional value, include:
- Avocado oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Hemp-seed oil.
- Walnut oil.
Choosing the Right Oils for Your Plant-Based Diet
As we said at the beginning of the article, your choice of cooking oil matters. It’ll influence the taste, how well the food cooks, and the overall nutritional value of the meal. In most cases, selecting the right one will come down to personal preference and the type of dish you’re cooking; for example, sesame oil would be recommended for Asian-inspired meals.
From a health perspective, you’re looking for high volumes of unsaturated and low volumes of saturated fats. Some good examples of cooking oils that tick these boxes include:
- Avocado oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Walnut oil
- Sesame oil.
Flavorful Oils to Elevate Your Plant-Based Cooking
Standard cooking oils that you’ll find on supermarket shelves tend to have a neutral taste, which means they won’t impact the overall flavor of the meal (too much). The exceptions would be sesame oil and nut-based oils, which offer light flavoring.
Several specialist flavored oils can add additional taste to your meals. Some examples include:
- Chili oil
- Truffle oil
- Garlic-infused oils.
- Smoked olive oil.
Enhance Your Plant-Based Dishes with Oil Varieties
A good cooking oil is one of the easiest ways to take your plant-based dishes to the next level. The standout oil in recent years has unquestionably been avocado oil, which is pound-for-pound the most nutritionally dense oil on the market.
Coconut oil is also having a moment, looking to keep things simple. Stick to high-quality olive oil.
Maximizing Nutritional Benefits with Plant-Based Oils
Using a quality plant-based oil when cooking is a highly effective way to give your body what it needs to be at its best. Some of the typical nutritional benefits of using plant-based oils include:
- Increased Omega-3 fatty acid intake.
- Increased vitamin A, D, E, and K intake.
- Exceptional amounts of unsaturated fats.
You’ll need to use an oil for cooking anyway; you may as well make one that’s great for you!