What is grapeseed oil?
Grapeseed oil is a versatile, reasonably priced type of vegetable oil that’s commonly used for stir-frying, sautéing and baking. It has a clean, neutral taste that doesn’t overshadow the flavour of other ingredients, making it an excellent base for salad dressings. Because of its moderately-high smoke point (216°C) it is often used as a substitute for olive oil.
Where does it come from?
Grapeseed oil is a by-product of winemaking: after the grapes are pressed for wine, grapeseeds are left behind. Grapeseed oil is then extracted from these leftover seeds.
Most grapeseed oils you’ll find at the supermarket come from France, Italy or Spain, with a few sources now in Australia. A 500ml bottle will set you back around $6, and can be stored for up to six months in a cool, dark place.
Is it healthy?
As grapeseed oil is an antioxidant powerhouse, it has taken the culinary world by storm in recent years. It contains more vitamin E than olive oil which is proven to help protect the health of our cells, tissues and organs and plays a role in keeping our immune system strong. It is also high in flavonoids - substances that protect blood vessels from damage, help manage high blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
Grapeseed oil is potent in polyunsaturated fatty acids (specifically omega-6 and omega-9), which according to the American Heart Association, may be beneficial for heart health when used in place of trans fats and saturated fats. However, studies have shown that too much omega-6 may cause inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases, including cancer. So, if you’re already getting an adequate intake of omega 6 through your diet, regularly consuming grapeseed oil may throw this balance out.
What are the best substitutes for grapeseed oil?
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Walnut oil
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1. Avocado oil
Pressed from the pulp of avocado fruit, this oil has high levels of carotenoids, lutein, vitamin E and phytosterols and is made with 70 per cent oleic acid (an unsaturated fatty acid that may increase HDL cholesterol).
Ideal for grilling, baking and sautéed dishes, avocado oil has a smoke point of 271°C. It has a mild grassy flavour, that reduces in intensity when heated.
Best for: grilled meat and vegetable marinades.
2. Almond oil
Almond oil is packed with vitamin E (just one tablespoon contains 26 per cent of our recommended daily intake.) In addition, it’s low in saturated fat and high in good monounsaturated fats.
Almond oil has a smoke point of 216°C, making it suitable to fry and bake with. It has a mild, nutty taste that works best in dishes with complementary flavours.
Best for: cakes, cookies and muffins.
3. Canola oil
Similarly to grapeseed oil, canola oil is light in both flavour and colour. It is derived from the rapeseed plant and is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats.
It has a moderate-high smoke point (204°C) and is extremely versatile to cook with, whether you’re baking, grilling or dressing a salad.
Best for: barbecuing.
4. Olive oil
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. It’s extremely versatile and comes in two varieties: Extra Virgin (EVOO) and Virgin Olive Oil. EVOO has a green hue and a strong tangy flavour. It is made from the first press and therefore is richer in antioxidants. Virgin olive oil comes from the second press and is usually champagne or yellow in colour and much lighter on the palette.
Olive oil can be heated to 210 °C, making it an ideal multi-purpose cooking oil.
Best for: salad dressings, roasting veg.
5. Peanut oil
Peanut oil is a sweet tasting oil with a nutty aroma. It has has a smoke point of 227°C and doesn’t absorb the taste of the food you cook in it, making it a good option when frying multiple ingredients at once.
It’s loaded with vitamin E, in fact, one tablespoon boasts 11 per cent of the recommended daily intake for adults. Peanut oil is also rich in good cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats, although it does have a higher saturated fat content than any other cooking oil.
Best for: Asian dishes, sautéing and frying.
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6. Safflower oil
Safflower oil is flavourless and yellow in colour. It is derived from the seeds of the safflower plant (a relative of the sunflower) and contains loads of linolenic acid and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which studies show may help prevent hardening of the arteries.
It has a high smoke point (266°C) and won’t solidify when stored in cool temperatures, making it a great option for salad dressings.
Best for: vinaigrettes and garnishing.
7. Sunflower oil
Derived from the pressed seeds of sunflowers, this oil has a neutral taste and is extremely nutrient-dense. It’s a great source of phytochemicals (choline and phenolic acid) and is free from trans fats. It is also believed to effectively lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels.
As sunflower oil can be heated to high temperatures (230°C) it is commonly used in deep-frying, baking and roasting.
Best for: steaks, frying fish.
8. Walnut oil
Made from crushed walnuts that have been dried and cold-pressed, this oil is loaded with antioxidants, omega-3s and polyunsaturated fats.
It has a buttery texture and nutty flavour that can turn bitter when heated. Because of this, walnut oil is best consumed cold or at room temperature – e.g. as a finishing oil or added to desserts.
Best for: drizzled over fish, salad or ice cream.
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