How we cook and the ingredients we use tend evolve. In the past, lard and eventually vegetable oil were common household ingredients found in most kitchens. Today, home cooks have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to cooking oils. With plenty of choices on the grocery store shelves, it can be tricky to decipher which ones are the healthiest or the best to use for your meals. Here are the differences between common cooking oils:

Vegetable oil

Over time, vegetable oil has remained a popular choice for most households. How healthy vegetable oil is depends on where it is sourced and what it is used for. Because vegetable oil can be produced from a variety of vegetables and is highly refined and processed, there is little flavor or health benefit to the oil itself. Typically, vegetable oils are a combination of corn, soybean, and palm oils.

Canola Oil

Although processed and modified, canola Oil is one of the healthier options when it comes to vegetable oil. Processed from the flowering plant, rapeseed, canola oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, which is essential when cooking foods at high temperatures. Look for unprocessed or cold-pressed canola oil to reap the most benefits.

Olive Oil

One of the most versatile oils to use when cooking is olive oil. It has a high smoke point and can be used for everything from sauteing to frying to baking. It is filled with ingredients that are good for your heart and health, like monounsaturated fats and oleic acids. Extra virgin olive oil will provide the best benefits, but it is important to note the lower smoke point during use. Use olive oil as a butter replacement, infuse other ingredients like garlic in it, or whip up a salad dressing.

Coconut Oil

There has been a lot of hype about coconut oil in recent years, with most people either all for it or totally against it. Despite its popularity in the health and fitness industry, coconut oil contains a high saturated fat content which is typically the main point of conflict. Still, many people believe not all saturated fats are bad for your health. Coconut oil can be used for sauteing vegetables and chicken on low-heat. It can also be used as a replacement for butter and does well in most baking recipes like cookies, cakes, and chocolates.

Sesame Oil

With a distinct nutty aroma, sesame oil is a great option for deep frying or cooking meals at a high smoke point. It contains loads of nutrients, vitamins, and heart-healthy fats and it is often recommended to those monitoring their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Sesame oil makes a great addition to Asian inspired dishes.