Oil Varieties

In an ideal world, the best thing you can do for your health is use a wide variety of oils, says David Baer, a research physiologist with the USDA. But for most of us, it is more practical to have just a couple of oils we know we can rely on.

The two oils I turn to for healthy everyday cooking are canola and olive oil, both of which are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Canola oil is flavorless; olive oil lends a Mediterranean presence to dishes. But the truth is, when you use 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet to saute, say, a pound of boneless chicken breasts, the flavor of either will be indiscernible.

Keep in mind that all oils have about 40 calories per teaspoon (120 per tablespoon). So no matter what type of oil you choose, use it moderately. Here is a good rule of thumb to remember: it takes no more than 1 tablespoon of oil to adequately cover a 12-inch skillet. Try measuring the amount you use next time: you may be surprised to learn that it takes less oil than you think to saute enough meat, fish or chicken for four people.