The benefits of olive oil are undeniable. A heap of scientific evidence finds this oil to be supportive of heart health in many different ways, and research finds that olive oil may also be helpful for people with asthma, arthritis, and even some forms of cancer. Olive oil is versatile, delicious, and easy to use in cooking. But why not switch things up? A variety of other oils also offer benefits for heart health and beyond.

Coconut oil contains immune-boosting medium-chain fatty acids. It has antiviral properties, and it protects against heart disease and may even promote weight loss. Coconut oil is extremely stable, making it a great choice for baked goods and stir-fries. It's especially delicious in curries.

Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Flaxseed oil is an abundant source of plant lignans, fiber compounds that can bind to estrogen receptors and interfere with the cancer-promoting effects of estrogen on breast tissue. Flaxseed oil has a sweet, nutty flavor. Use it in salad dressings and add it to foods after they have been cooked. Look for cold-pressed flaxseed oil in bottles that have been kept refrigerated.

Macadamia nut oil provides significant health benefits and it's a fantastic cooking oil due to its low level of polyunsaturated fat. It's stable at much higher temperatures than olive or canola oil and, like olive oil, is very high in antioxidants — in fact, it contains more than 4.5 times the amount of vitamin E as olive oil! Use macadamia nut oil in place of olive oil in cooking and in salad dressings.

Walnut oil is one of nature's richest sources of heart-healthy omega-3s, and it is also a great source of antioxidants. It adds delicious, rich flavor to salad dressings, pasta, or fish. It's also delicious in baked goods.

Grape seed oil is full of antioxidants, particularly proanthocyanidin. Studies link the proanthocyanidin in grape seeds to lower LDL cholesterol and healthy overall cholesterol. Grape seed oil is also linked to healthy blood pressure. Use grape seed oil in dressings and in cooked dishes.

A wide variety of high-quality and organic gourmet cooking oils are available — avocado, pistachio, pumpkin seed, pecan, peanut, and more — that offer delicious flavor as well as a wealth of health benefits. Keep a variety in your pantry and liven up your favorite dishes by experimenting with different oils.

© 2014 Living Naturally

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