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alternative cooking oils
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When it comes to sautéing, pan-searing and drizzling, most of us reach for the EVOO. It’s rich in antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, and has a delightfully earthy, tangy taste. But what’s stopping you from experimenting with a different oil? Olive won’t mind. Why not try an avocado, pumpkin seed, or walnut oil for a change? Each has its own roster of health benefits and brings its own subtle flavors to the table.

Sesame: Perfect for Asian stir-fries, it’s an excellent source of vitamin E, which is known to promote cardiovascular health and keep skin looking youthful. Unrefined sesame oil also contains magnesium, copper, calcium and iron. It comes in two varieties: light (from un-toasted seeds), which is perfect for gentle frying, and dark (from toasted seeds), ideal for drizzling or dipping. Try Spectrum Organic Unrefined Sesame Oil.

Coconut: Containing a healthy dose of lauric acid, a fatty acid said to possess antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, coconut oil is distinguishable by its tropical aroma, white color and waxy texture. While none of the aforementioned health claims have been scientifically proven just yet, coconut oil has become a cornerstone of vegan cooking, able to stand in for lard for fluffy, delicious baked goods. Try Dr. Bronner’s Magic “All-One!” Fair Trade & Organic Fresh-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil.

Pumpkin seed: Light and nutty, this oil just may be a man’s best friend. Packed with zinc, carotenoids and omega-3s, it’s said to promote prostate health, virility and strong bones. Also high in phytosterols, pumpkin seed oil may help reduce cholesterol, improve immunity and decrease the risk of certain of cancers. Plus, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory for when you overdo it at the gym. Try La Tourangelle Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil.

Grape seed: As a by-product of grapes used in winemaking, it contains a tannin believed to slow the aging process. Grape seed oil is also high in beta-carotene and vitamins C, D and E, antioxidants that not only reduce bad cholesterol but can also help boost good cholesterol levels to keep arteries clear. Try Salute Santé Grape Seed Oil, from Napa.

Avocado: Packed with antioxidants, it’s a great source of fiber and linoleic, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that the body cannot produce on its own. With a higher smoke point than other vegetable oils, you can cook with it on high heat without setting off the smoke alarm or burning your food. Its deep emerald color and mild, sweet taste make it ideal for vinaigrettes or simple drizzles. Try Apalta Avocado Oil, from Chile.

Walnut: This delicate, aromatic oil doesn’t come cheap, so it’s best used in sauces and as a finishing oil, tossed in pasta or brushed onto fish and poultry before pan searing. Boasting strong levels of omega 3s fatty acids for cardiovascular health, it has also been shown to contain a special type of vitamin E that promotes heart health in men. Try A l’Olivier Virgin Walnut Oil, from France.

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