You’ve heard the term ‘vegetable oil’ before, but did you know that it’s actually a very misleading term? In reality, vegetable oils are mostly made from soybean or corn. They contain high amounts of saturated fats and trans fats, which can cause serious health problems.
Vegetable oils are widely used in cooking because they add flavor and texture to food. They also provide essential fatty acids that our bodies need. Unfortunately, these oils are often highly processed and full of additives.
There are plenty of alternatives to vegetable oil out there, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and even butter. These healthier options offer similar benefits without quite as many harmful side effects.
Vegetable oil is used in baking and cooking. It’s an important ingredient. Neutral oils like this are used for sautéing and frying and help baked goods turn out light and fluffy.
If you want a vegan or vegetarian alternative to animal fat, you can use vegetable oil instead. However, if your vegetable oil has expired or you need a healthy alternative, there are several options available.
Benefits And Downsides Of Using Vegetable Oil
You may be wondering why you should have a few alternatives for vegetable oil available in your kitchen, especially if you use it in most of your everyday cooking. Below is a handy list of some of the biggest benefits of using vegetable oil and some of the biggest downsides as well.
Benefits Of Using Vegetable Oil
- Neutral Flavor: Unlike some other oils like coconut or olive oil, the flavor of vegetable oil is pretty neutral, this means it can go more easily with lots of different kinds of food, both sweet and savory. For example, you probably wouldn’t want a sweet pancake that was cooked in olive or sesame oil!
- Adds Texture: It’s easy to crisp up goods in this oil.
- High Cooking Temperature: When cooking oils are heated, particularly at high heat, they eventually reach their smoke point. This is the temperature at which the oil is no longer stable and begins to break down.
As oil breaks down, it starts to oxidize and release free radicals. These compounds can cause negative health effects, including cellular damage that may lead to disease development.
Oils that reach their smoke point produce a substance called acrolein, which can cause an unpleasant burnt flavor. More importantly, airborne acrolein can be harmful to your lungs.
It’s also important to consider the amount of processing a cooking oil has undergone, as this can affect its quality.
- Inexpensive: Vegetable oil is often an inexpensive choice that can be used for all kinds of cooking. As it’s a mix of different oils, it’s much cheaper to produce, making it a good choice for those on a tight budget.
- Conducts Heat Evenly: Because of the high temperature that it can reach, vegetable oil can distribute heat more evenly.
Downsides Of Using Vegetable Oil
- High in Polyunsaturated Fats: Polyunsaturated fats tend to react with oxygen, which can cause chain reactions, damaging other structures and perhaps even vital structures like DNA.
- Trans Fats: A little known fact is that vegetable oils often contain massive amounts of trans fats.
- Super calorie dense: Just a tablespoon of vegetable oil contains 120 calories, making it one of the most calorie dense foods on earth, and it won’t fill you up or keep you satiated.
- Addictive: The taste that vegetable oil brings to food is yummy, but along with sugar and salt, this can be addictive and as your pallet gets used to oily foods, you crave it more, and oil-free foods start tasting bland in comparison.
Alternatives To Vegetable Oil
Bear in mind that a lot of these oils are still high in fat, though if you are in a pinch and need an alternative to vegetable oil, these will work fine in its place.
1. Canola Oil
Whilst still being an unhealthy choice for daily cooking, canola oil does have the smallest amount of saturated fats of any common cooking oil, making it a better heart-healthy replacement for vegetable oil. It is made from the seeds of the canola plant, as the name suggests
It’s great for all cooking methods and can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute.
2. Olive Oil
Like canola oil, olive oil is another healthy option for cooking. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, meaning it is less likely to raise cholesterol levels than other oils. It is also very versatile and can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.
It does, however, impart a specific flavor to dishes that may not go with everything. The main issue with olive oil is that it has a lower smoking temperature. Once it starts to burn, olive oil can release nasty chemicals that are really harmful for you to ingest.
3. Coconut Oil
This oil is high in medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), which means that it can help boost metabolism by increasing energy production. It is also rich in lauric acid, which helps to fight bacteria and viruses.
4. Sesame Seed Oil
This oil is extremely nutritious and has been used for thousands of years. It is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce pain and inflammation.
5. Avocado Oil
Avocados are packed full of nutrients such as vitamin E, B6, potassium, magnesium, fiber, folate, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids. They are also low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Avocados are best eaten raw and blended into smoothies, dips, dressings, etc and the oil is great for salad dressings, adding to dishes, or as an accompaniment to dips and spreads.
6. Almond Oil
Almonds are a good source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium. They are also a good source of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats.
Almond oil is high in monounsaturated fat, so it is a healthier alternative to vegetable oil.
7. Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain development and function. They are also rich in vitamins A, C, D, K, and E, plus minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Flaxseed oil is great for salads, sandwiches, soups, and baking.
8. Walnut Oil
Walnuts contain many beneficial compounds including polyunsaturated fats, vitamin E, and phytosterols. These compounds help maintain cardiovascular health, promote cell growth, and protect against cancer.
Walnut oil is great for salads and sandwiches.
9. Peanut Oil
Peanuts are a good source of protein and fiber. They are also a great source of Vitamin E, biotin, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate.
10. Hazelnut Oil
Hazelnuts are loaded with antioxidant nutrients like vitamin E, beta carotene, selenium, and magnesium. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber and protein.
11. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamias are one of the most nutrient dense nuts on the planet. They are a great source of vitamin E, biotin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, and protein.
Macadamias are great for salads, snacks, and desserts.
12. Chicken Broth
Chicken broth is a great way to get your daily dose of sodium. It contains important electrolytes that are needed for proper muscle contraction. It’s also a good source of collagen, glycine, glutamine, taurine, and other amino acids.
You can cook your food in chicken broth instead of oil, as it keeps the moisture in your food and stops it from burning.
13. Beef Broth
Beef broth is another great way to get your sodium intake. It is a good source of collagen and glycine. Glycine is an amino acid that is necessary for healthy skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue. Collagen is responsible for keeping our bodies strong and supple.
Water is the easiest way to hydrate yourself. When we drink water, it helps us absorb all the nutrients out of the foods that we eat.
Drinking enough water will keep your body properly hydrated. Cooking with water is a good way of keeping your food from burning, though it doesn’t impart any flavor, and it isn’t great if you’re striving for a crisp finish.
15. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a great substitute for dairy products. It has a mild coconut taste that goes well with any kind of dish. It is made by grinding up fresh coconuts into a paste. The paste is then mixed with filtered water and heated until it thickens. Use this instead of oil when you are sautéing for a Caribbean flavor infusion!
16. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is a great addition to Asian dishes. It adds a wonderful tangy flavor to rice and noodles. It’s also a good source of antioxidants. This is a good liquid to use when frying off food as it has a lovely subtle flavor.
17. Safflower Oil
Safflower oil is a great alternative to vegetable oils because it contains high levels of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
18. Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential fatty acids that help prevent inflammation and promote heart health.
19. Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is rich in unsaturated fats which makes it a great cooking oil. It is also a good source of protein, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A & D.
Ghee is a clarified butter that originated in India. It has a delicious nutty aroma and a smooth texture. Ghee is used extensively in Indian cuisine where it is considered a sacred ingredient. It’s a great one to replace Vegetable oil as it has a high cooking temperature.
21. Apple Sauce
Applesauce is a great replacement for sugar. It is low on calories and has no carbohydrates or added sugars. It’s a great sweetener to sprinkle over pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. If your baking recipe calls for vegetable oil, you can easily make a healthy switch and use applesauce instead!
I hope that these 21 ways to swap out vegetable oil helped you find healthier alternatives. I would love to hear about your favorite swaps in the comments below!