Canola, olive, grapeseed, sunflower, peanut and even sesame are all relatively common oils these days. And with just those six oils you can create a myriad of recipes each with a unique flavor. I highly recommend you keep a few different oil varieties around -- the reason goes beyond flavor.
Studies have shown that a balanced intake of omega 3 and 6 along with a high level of omega 9 fatty acids significantly reduce the risk of dying from a cardiovascular-related disease.
In general, most oils are healthy because they contain a concentration of healthy fats. Keeping in mind that they do need to be used in moderation, each oil features its own unique health benefits. Olive oil is an excellent source of omega 9 fats (one of three essential fatty acids), but does not have any omega 3 fats, whereas walnut oil is a good source of omega 3, 6 and 9. People always ask me what is the most healthy oil to choose and the answer is, all of them. Rotating a variety of oils in your recipes will ensure you get the best balance of nutrients.
I recently discovered La Tourangelle and their variety of handcrafted oils. They sell unrefined nut oils resulting in a more flavorful and more antioxidant filled product. These oils have so much richness that a little really goes a long way. In fact, the best way to use most of their oils is as as a finisher. You may have heard chefs talk about finishing salts. They use fancy more expensive salts to top/finish the dish. The same goes with these oils, drizzle a little at the end of cooking or on top of your soup or salad for a tremendous flavor and health boost.
In addition, La Tourangelle introduced me to coconut oil, both refined and unrefined. I quickly learned that unrefined coconut oil has a much more lush and full flavor and works better when you don't mind letting some coconut flavor come through, like in many desserts or Asian dishes. The refined coconut oil has a mild flavor and has a high smoke point, which makes it a perfect choice for almost any kind of cooking. Coconut oil is naturally high in saturated fat, but most research has found that because they are medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) they work differently in the body than other saturated fats. MCTs are easily digested, absorbed, and put to use in your body. Unlike other fats, they put little strain on the digestive system and provide a quick source of energy and promote healing. They have been associated with weight control, brain function, and immune system health.
So far, I have made amazing roasted potatoes in refined coconut oil and I have used a combo of unrefined coconut oil and coconut milk to make a pareve chocolate tart. Now, I can't wait to try these pareve Chocolate Almond Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting.