Vegetable Oils: Types, Benefits & Nutritional Value

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

Derived from seeds of vegetables and fruits that have oil content, these oils have become a rather important part of the diet for most. Whether you use it as a cooking medium such as frying, as a shortening agent for baking, or a salad dressing; they are a good source of healthy fat. Overall, vegetable oils provide a plethora of benefits such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, better metabolism, and digestion and provides omega-3 fatty acids to the body.

Let’s look into the nutritional composition and health benefits of vegetable and fruit oils to understand this and break away certain popular myths.

Nutritional Value of Vegetable Oils

Various oils have different nutritional components that help us but there are common elements such as vitamin E (Tocopherol), omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats. [1]

Several bottles of vegetable oil against a yellow background

Vegetable oils are low in saturated fats. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Vegetable Oils

After the nutritional components, let’s understand how they benefit our health and why we should include vegetable and fruit oils in our daily diet.

Promote Cell Growth

Oils like safflower, cottonseed, sunflower, almond, and wheat germ are all rich in vitamin E which is required in the body for cell protection and development. This vitamin has a long list of benefits for our body. From improving the immune system to stimulating the digestive system, it is vital. It protects body tissues such as skin, eyes, breasts, testes, and liver.

Prevent Heart Conditions

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the most frequently found forms of fat in vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated fats help lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Further, the presence of vitamin E in the oils helps in preventing heart diseases and eliminating blood clots which are the cause of heart ailments. [2]

Promote Growth

The body requires fatty acids to carry out various functionings, and vegetable oils provide these in abundance. There are two types of fatty acids, namely, omega-3 and omega-6. The body doesn’t produce these naturally; hence, acquiring it from food is essential. Alpha-linolenic, a type of omega-3 fatty acids, are found in soybean, canola, and flaxseed oil which are very similar to the fatty acids in fish.

Omega-3 fatty acids are widely known to be anti-inflammatory which is why they are highly recommended for people suffering from chronic heart, skin and digestive concerns. On the other hand, omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, which is also required but long-term use beyond advised quantities can cause more harm than help. A ratio of 1:1 is ideal to maintain health and avoid complications. However, many people consume an unhealthy ratio of 16:1, an unbalanced number of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids which has been correlated to various diseases including inflammatory issues, and autoimmune diseases, and chronic diseases.

List of Vegetable Oils

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil helps to prevent hair loss, premature aging and boosts immunity. The oil can be extracted from the coconut palm meat or from the kernel. It is used for cooking, for massaging and as a carrier oil.

The various types of coconut oil are virgin, pure, refined, fractionated, and organic.

Safflower Oil

Extracted from its seeds, this oil contains omega-6 fatty acids, oleic acid, and linoleic acid which help fight obesity, prevent symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, boost immunity and more.

Sunflower Oil

A good amount of fatty acids and vitamin E in sunflower oil make it a healthy option. A non-volatile oil, it is extracted from sunflowers fairly easily.

It helps in boosting energy, improving the health of skin and hair, preventing heart diseases, reducing the severity of arthritis and asthma, and promoting skin cell regeneration.

Soybean Oil

This oil is extracted from soybeans and is rich in fatty acids. High mineral and vitamin content and the antioxidant properties make this oil a very healthy choice.

Health benefits of soybean oil include better immunity, eye care, skin care, and reduced risk of heart issues.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is fruit oil extracted from the fruit itself. Most non-vegetarians can get their omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil, but vegetarians and vegans can receive it from olive oil.

It is used for cooking, medicinal purposes, soaps, and cosmetic products, for pharmaceutical supplements and sometimes as fuel.

Different types can be purchased such as virgin, extra virgin (cold pressed), pure and lampante.

Peanut Oil

This popular cooking oil is extracted from peanuts. With a good balance of fatty acids, it is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds.

It aids in maintaining cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall heart health. It also delays the symptoms of aging such as wrinkles.

Sesame Oil

One of the less popular oils, sesame oil is obtained from the seeds and is a healthy alternative for certain unhealthy vegetable oils.

It is rich in minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium; a wide range of polyunsaturated fats, and tyrosine (amino acid). It helps reduce inflammation, boosts dental health and metabolism, and reduces age spots.

Other types of oil are corn oil, cottonseed oil, palm oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, flaxseed oil.

Word of Caution: Despite various views on the health benefits and risks of consuming vegetable oils, they are important in our diet. However, understanding the composition of the oil and its effects on your health and body is a must.

While coconut oil and olive oil remain at the top for healthy vegetable oils because they can be extracted naturally and do not necessarily require synthesized processing, some believe other oils are likely to be detrimental to our well-being. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are included in Trans fats which are the worst for your health and should be avoided. Protection Status
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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