5 Oils Perfect for Everyday Use

Pumpkin Seed Oil

A staple in eastern-European cooking, pumpkin seed oil is made by pressing roasted and hulled pumpkin seeds.  The oil can have a dark green to dark red color and has a very intense, nutty flavor. Chefs do not often cook with the oil because the cooking process destroys its fatty acids and causes the flavor to become bitter. 

Contents: Pumpkin seed oils contain fatty acids and are also used to help treat irritable bowel syndrome. Some studies have found that pumpkin seeds can regulate cholesterol levels. 

Usage: With its nutty flavor, pumpkin seed oil can be mixed with honey or olive oil for dressings. Pumpkin seed oil can also be drizzled on top of ice creams.

More: 13 Keys to a Healthy Diet

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is typically used as a flavor booster in Asian cooking.  Derived from sesame seeds, sesame oil can be used for a variety of cooking techniques because, unlike other oils, the flavor does not change at high temperatures.  It does require refrigeration.

Contents: Sesame oil is very high in omega-6 fatty acids, and because it is derived from such a nutritional seed, ongoing research suggests the antioxidants present in sesame oil can help lower blood pressure. 

Usage: Sesame oil can give a flavor boost to stir-fries and other Asian-inspired cuisines.  It can be drizzled over vegetables for a little seasoning or even used as the cooking oil for making omelets. 

The Fatty Facts

Oils are a great source of fat, which provide our bodies with vitamins A, K, D and E. These vitamins are fat soluble, meaning they can only be absorbed by our bodies when fat is present. Fats also act as building blocks, helping construct cell membranes and hormones. 

More: 3 Reasons to Eat More Fat

"The fats to focus on are unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature," says Schantz.

Unsaturated fats include omega-3 and monounsaturated fats. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, walnuts, tofu or fatty fish such as salmon, sardines or shellfish. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olives, avocados, nuts and oils like olive oil or canola oil, says Schantz. For heart health, saturated and trans fats should be kept to a minimum. About 20 to 30 percent of our daily calories should come from fats, Schantz recommends.

Remember, a little oil goes a long way. Despite being full of essential fatty acids and nutrients, the average tablespoon can add 120 calories. A serving of oil is about one or two teaspoons.

More: 5 Heart-Healthy Nutrients for Athletes

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