• April 14, 2023
  • Natasha Gupta

Sesame Oil for Cooking: How It Stacks Up Against Olive Oil and Canola Oil?

Sesame Oil for Cooking: How It Stacks Up Against Olive Oil and Canola Oil?


Off late, sesame oil has taken center stage as one of the best cooking oils. Just like canola and olive oil, sesame oil too is derived from a plant. It is extracted from either raw or toasted sesame seeds. The oil has a golden hue. Besides this, there is another variant of sesame oil that is derived from toasted black seeds and is referred to as black sesame oil. Owing to its incredibly versatile nature, it is used as a cooking oil in various international cuisines such as Japanese, Asian and Korean. A major reason why more people these days are using sesame oil in cooking is because it is said to have cholesterol lowering properties. Even though olive oil is a competing product, most studies show that sesame oil is better at reducing LDL cholesterol.

Smoke Point of Sesame Oil vs Olive Oil & Canola Oil

When you’re choosing an oil for everyday cooking, it is important to consider the smoke point. It matters because it determines when the healthy fats in the oil break down and oxidise. A higher smoke point protects the nutritional value of the oil. Compared to olive and canola oil, sesame oil has a higher smoke point. It is between 350 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sesame oil is better for frying too. Although the smoke point of the other two oils is also close to sesame oil, the nutritional benefits outweigh the smoke point.

Nutritional Value

For those looking to manage body weight and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, sesame oil is a good health choice. A major reason why sesame oil is being talked about so much these days is because it is rich in two types of dietary fats including monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Both the fats reduce total cholesterol levels. These are further broken down into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. When foods cooked in sesame oil are paired with omega 3s, blood sugar is regulated and the heart stays healthy.
Canola oil and olive oil also have a high content of unsaturated fats. However, sesame has more nutritional components compared to the two. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, potassium, phenol compounds and other nutrients. Sesame oil is also said to have a positive effect on blood lipids.
Though sesame oil has no minerals, its micro constituents such as sesamin, sesamol and sesamum have anti-inflammatory effects.

Culinary Uses

Refined sesame oil has a relatively neutral flavour, and thus it is used in everyday cooking. When it comes to high-heat cooking, it is a favourite. Whether you use it for sauteing or deep frying, the nutritional value of the oil is retained. On the other hand, toasted sesame oil is mainly used as a flavour enhancer and not a cooking oil. A little goes a long way. Another reason for this is because the price is on the higher side. In Asian cooking, it is used in stir-fry dishes and salad dressings.
On the other hand, olive oil is used in Mediterranean and Italian cooking. In olive oil too there are different variants and the usage varies. Pomace is the ideal choice for cooking and frying whereas extra-virgin olive oil is again used as a flavour enhancer and is recommended for dips, dressings and salads. Canola oil too is used for sauteing, grilling and stir-frying.

The Verdict

Though olive oil and canola oil stack up evenly against sesame oil, the latter is preferred since it has a nutty taste. In a study conducted, a lot of participants found olive oil a lot more bitter. Compared to canola oil, sesame oil is a healthier pick as it is full of antioxidant phytochemicals.
If you’re looking for a healthy cooking oil, sesame oil should become an eminent part of your kitchen.  

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