Much has been documented about the advantages of vegetable oils, especially their health benefits when cooking, but not many know about the wide range of vegetable oils available and the different effects it has on the body.
Vegetable oil is in fact the name given to any oil extracted from any plant. It could be a fruit, a vegetable or even the seeds. Olive oil, for example is derived from the olive, which is a fruit and sunflower oil from the seeds of the sunflower plant. Herbal oils are also distilled from roots, grasses and herbs and have potent medical benefits. All these then fall within the broad category of vegetable oils.
Needless to say, organic vegetable oils are healthier than others since pesticides and chemical fertilizers do not treat the plants they come from. These organic vegetable oils are less harmful to the body; as a result organic vegetable oil cooking is gaining popularity. However, while producers would like us to believe that vegetable oils are healthier than animal-derived fats, this is not always the case. There are some heart healthy oils such as olive and avocado oil that are high in good fats and can actually help reduce cholesterol. Vegetable oils on the whole still have to be treated with caution when cooking. At the end of the day, all oils are pure fat and vegetable oils are no different. Depending on the form they are available in, there are chemical processes involved. This means that while sunflower oil is largely unadulterated and good for health in small doses, if it is consumed in the form of margarine it is quite detrimental to health. This is because the process of hydrogenation, which alters the form of natural oils, is an unnatural one and has severe health side effects. Vegetable oils should thus be treated like a fat and included as only a small percentage of a balanced daily diet.
Some popular types of organic vegetable oils are canola oil, olive oil, sesame oil, and soybean oil. Canola oil is low in saturated fats and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. The bland, neutral taste of Canola oil also lends itself to a variety of cooking and baking recipes. Much as been written about the benefits of cooking with olive oil and its ability to reduce cholesterol. It is also extremely flavorful and can be had on its own in its virgin and extra virgin oil options. Sesame oil is very common in Asian cuisine and lends a nutty flavor to dishes cooked with it. Soybean oil is labeled as simply ‘vegetable oil’ and is the regular cooking oil of choice. It has a bland flavor and is also used as an ingredient in other oil-based products such as margarine, salad dressing, and mayonnaise.
Vegetable oils are also ingredients in several beauty and skin care products. From organic body oils to perfume body oils and essential fragrance oils, plant-extracted oils form a huge component. If you look at organic perfume oils or body oils, these are created by combining a neutral carrier oil with essential oils or fragrance oils. Essential oils are pure extracts with no additives whereas fragrance oils are either natural fragrance oil blends or synthetic oils. When using body oils for massages, it is also important to combine a neutral carrier oil so that the pure essential oil does not lead to any reactions or allergies. You can find a comprehensive list of organic oils and lotions and home fragrance oils and natural fragrance oils from the Internet.