Life & Style | Health

How best to store oils?

Reach for the bottles at the back of the shelf in the supermarket

  • Amera Marian varghese
  • Published: 07:00 September 19, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Getty Images
  • Young woman placing a microwave dinner in the microwave
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All oils should be kept in a cool, dry place. Oils might thicken but they will come to liquid stage if kept at room temperatures.

Shelf life:

12 months: Refined oils high in monounsaturated fats keep up to a year (olive oil will keep up to a few years).

9 months: Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils keep at least 9 months after opening.

6 months: Oils high in polyunsaturated fats.

Long life: Saturated oils, such as coconut oil and palm oil, have much longer shelf life and can be safely stored at room temperature.

Important tip: When you’re shopping for oils, reach for bottles at the back of the shelf, since that’s where they are more protected from harsh lighting that can make them go bad. Check the bottle for the expiration date (most oils have one), and every time you open a bottle, give it a whiff to make sure it doesn’t smell rancid.

Other fats

1) Fat type: Nuts (almond, walnut, pecan, peanuts, hazelnuts, etc.)

Benefits: Contain poly- and monounsaturated fats that, when substituted for other fatty foods, can help reduce “bad,” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.

Uses: Eat raw, as a healthy snack, instead of chips or crackers. Avoid nuts roasted with oil and salt. Add them to cakes, breads and savoury and sweet dishes.

2) Fat type: Oily fish (salmon, tuna, trout, striped bass, mackerel, herring, sardines, etc)

Benfits: Dietary omega-3 fatty acids from fish help reduce the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death

Uses: Make a light tuna salad with a bit of olive oil or canola oil instead of mayonnaise. Brush fish fillet with lemon and olive oil and then coat with bread crumbs and bake.

3) Fat type: Flax Seeds

Benefits: Rich in the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps control inflammation and blood pressure, as well as other body functions.

Uses: Toss into salads, soups, porridge, stews, or casseroles.

Top picks


Use canola oil for sautéing, roasting, baking and making salad dressings. Has a relatively high shelf life. Can be substituted for olive oil when yu find its flavour too strong. Try using a 1:1 ratio of canola and extra-virgin olive oil when making salad dressing.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidant and has heart healthy benefits. Drizzle on steamed vegetables and can be used to make salad dressing or to sauté vegetables.

Sesame oil

Two versions - untoasted and toasted. Usually used in Asian cooking. Stir-fry with untoasted sesame oil, drizzle onto finished dishes, use in salad dressing.

Peanut oil

Contains heart-healthy components. Can be used for sautéing and roasting.

Oils and Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced only by animals and cannot exist in food of plant origin, so it’s only a marketing tactic

WORD OF CAUTION: All fats, including the healthy ones, are high in calories so don’t go overboard with them. Consume MUFA-rich and PUFA-rich foods instead of other fatty foods, not in addition to them.

The bottom line is that it makes nutritional sense to focus on fats that are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil and olive oil and the least amounts of saturated fat and trans fat.

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