When you think of oils, what comes to mind? Many people shy away from using oils in their cooking or skincare regime because they think all oils are high in fat, unhealthy, and better to avoid all together. While it’s true that not all oils are created equal, it doesn’t mean that they are unhealthy. In fact, there are a large variety of oils loaded with heart healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals.

How do you know what oils are best used for cooking, skincare, or both? Each oil has its own distinct properties that make it ideal for all kinds of uses from skin moisturizers, to baking and sautéing.  

Here are a few of our favorite oils that will benefit your overall health:

Olive oil: According to Integrative Nutrition visiting teacher Dr. Andrew Weil, olive oil has the highest percentage of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat of any edible oils. Olive oil has a low smoke point which makes it better to use in dressing, or drizzled over foods such as hummus or grilled vegetables.

Coconut oil:  This oil is a superstar when it comes to health benefits. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and soothing properties, plus lauric acid, which helps fight against viral and bacterial infections. Pressed from the fruit of the coconut palm tree, coconut oil can be used in baking and sautéing as well as oral healthhair care, skin care, and stress relief.

Sesame oil: The oil comes from the seed of the sesame plant, and has high antioxidant content. Unrefined sesame oil is great as a key flavor component in sauces or dressings. Refined sesame oil can be useful when high heat is required like frying and toasting for Asian stir-fries and dips.

Avocado oil: Pressed from avocados, this smooth, nutty oil is loaded with heart-nourishing fats.  Use it in salad dressings, or to sauté fish or sweet potatoes. Avocado oil also contains vitamins E, A and D, which makes it effective in softening and soothing dry skin.

Grape seed oil: Extracted from the seeds of grapes, grape seed oil has many benefits. Packed with antioxidants, this oil helps brighten skin and regulate natural oil production. It’s also great for cooking. Its smoke point is around 420 degrees F, which is higher than other oils, such as olive, corn or sesame, making it ideal for frying.

Castor oil: This oil had been known for centuries for its healing abilities. Taken from the bean of the castor plant, castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid, which exerts say has powerful therapeutic effects. Castor oil has a very strong cleansing property, and works well to pull the dirt and oil out of your pores. It also has pain–relieving properties and can ease and heal the symptoms of minor skin irritations.

Neem oil: Neem is a natural oil extracted from the seeds of the Neem tree, an evergreen native to India. Neem is an essential ingredient in many ayurvedic remedies and is said to have many medicinal properties including anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and so much more! Neem oil is used in skin care to treat all types of skin conditions and help protect skin from environmental damage. It’s loaded with nutrients, and contains extraordinarily high levels of antioxidants.

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