Vegetable oils: what they are, types of oil and uses
The different types of vegetable oils can be extracted both from the fruit and from the seed or grain.
Canola oil -rapeseed or rapeseed-, sunflower or corn are examples of vegetable cooking oils. However, this type of vegetable liquid not only has culinary but also industrial and/or fuel uses depending on the characteristics of each one.
In the following article we review the definition of vegetable oil, its most common uses and some of the most widely used types of vegetable oils in the world, both in gastronomy, industry or cosmetics.
Vegetable oil: what is it?
A vegetable oil is a triglyceride – a type of glycerol that belongs to the lipid family – that is extracted from a plant. The concept can be related only to liquid oils that are at room temperature or can also be extended to other states of matter. In the latter case, solid vegetable oils are also known as vegetable fats .
But where are these oils extracted from? In reality, there are many parts of the plant that can provide and produce it, although the one that is usually sold comes from its seeds.
As mentioned, it is usually extracted from the seeds of plants, although it is also very common to produce it from the fruit. We include a list of some examples that we will explain later:
- Palm oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- rapeseed oil
- Soybean or soybean oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- walnut oil
For example, olive oil is extracted from the fruit, while sunflower oil comes from the seed. Likewise, these two types of oils, together with coconut oil, are considered the most desirable for consumption in the kitchen .
Common uses of these oils
Vegetable oils have been used for a long time by humanity. Their main use is usually culinary and in this case they are known as cooking oils . Thanks to them we can give flavor, texture and body to many dishes and daily meals.
Likewise, when they are heated we can cook other foods. However, for this they must meet the requirement of having a high flash point such as soybean, sunflower or olive oil.
Rather tropical oils such as palm or coconut oil are also used for high-temperature cooking but are more often used in Asian cuisines. Other uses of the oils from the plants often include industrial functions and as fuels to make biodiesel.
In relation to their cosmetic or hygienic use, they are usually present in products such as soaps, candles, perfumes and cosmetics. Also in the manufacture of paint, lubricants or other types of products.
Types of vegetable oils
The classification of oils extracted from plants can be very varied. They can be differentiated according to their use -edible, cosmetic, industrial, etc.-, according to their state -solid or liquid- or the amount of fatty acids they contain -oleic, inoleic or linolenic.
Likewise, there are essential vegetable oils that are used in aromatherapy. Next, we will present some of the best known and common ones and we will explain each one according to each classification.
1. Canola, rapeseed or rapeseed oil
Canola oil, also called colza or rapeseed, is an oil of vegetable origin obtained from the Brassica napus plant, also called colza, raps and canola. It is of the linolenic type and is normally used for food as cooking oil .
It was known as a toxic oil in the 80s by producing a kind of pathology known as the Toxic Oil Syndrome. However, this poisoning occurred because the rapeseed oil was adulterated with another toxic oil called aniline.
2. Sunflower oil
This inoleic cooking oil with vitamin characteristics and qualities that are just as healthy as olive oil. Sunflower oil is a vegetable oil that is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower flower and is a source of heart-healthy fats for our body.
3. Corn oil
This vegetable oil is mainly used as a raw material for the manufacture of biodiesel . It is extracted from the germ of corn and is also used as a cooking oil for frying, dressing salads or making sauces.
Its price is really cheap and it does not contain a high amount of saturated fat but it does contain polyunsaturated. It is also a key ingredient in margarine and other processed foods.
4. Soybean oil (soybean)
Soybean oil is the most produced vegetable oil in the world . Nutritionally, it is a food rich in alpha-linolenic acid. It also has a higher amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
It is becoming more and more popular in the kitchen. It is rich in omega 3 and 6, vitamin K and E, iodine and zinc. It also corresponds to a rich source of antioxidants and improves digestion.
5. Grape oil
This vegetable liquid is obtained from the seeds of the grape. It contains nutritional properties in its composition that include the presence of vitamin E, linoleic acid, omega 3 and omega 6. It does not contain cholesterol and is an ideal food to prevent diseases such as diabetes , obesity or high blood pressure.
6. Safflower oil
It is a type of oil similar to sunflower and comes from the safflower plant. In relation to its properties, it contains unsaturated fats and is also used as a food supplement. It is rich in oleic fat and among its main benefits it helps fight bad cholesterol , arteriosclerosis, arthritis and some cardiovascular diseases.
7. Olive oil
The vegetable oil par excellence of the Mediterranean diet . It is extracted from the olive and the juice obtained from it is a type of vegetable fat with many benefits, especially at a gastronomic level. This oleic type oil is also used in cosmetics.
8. Coconut oil
Another well-known vegetable oil is coconut oil. Its uses are culinary and cosmetic for its nutritional and moisturizing values. In the same way as olive oil, this vegetable liquid is available in liquid and solid forms. The best option to consume is the virgin since this way it can preserve all its basic properties.