Become an oil expert

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April 08, 2010

Save time and money-and make your dishes sing-by choosing the right cooking ingredient.

Olive Oil Used in kitchens worldwide, olive oil comes in an array of tastes and prices. Extra-virgin oil is more flavorful and usually more expensive than regular olive oil, so it's best used drizzled on salads or for dipping bread. Olive oil's relatively low smoke point means it isn't a good choice for frying.

Canola Oil With a more neutral flavor and higher smoke point than olive oil, canola is a great all-purpose oil, ideal for baking as well as higher-temperature stove top cooking. Canola oil is low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, which help lower cholesterol, so it's often labeled "heart-healthy."

Peanut Oil Best used for frying, this oil has a high smoke point and a neutral taste. Most common brands filter out the peanut proteins during the oil-making process, making it safe for those with peanut allergies to consume. But if you're allergic, be sure to check with your doctor before using.

Exotic Oils Looking for a new taste? Specialty oils are now available in many grocery stores. Sesame oil has a toasted, nutty flavor that works well in Asian dishes. Grape seed oil tastes similar to extra-virgin olive oil but can withstand higher cooking temperature.

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