Vegetable Oils – Comparison, Cost, and Nutrition

As I was reaching for the canola oil in my cupboard last week while doing some baking, I got to looking at the different oils I have on hand. The canola oil and olive oil are at the front of the cupboard because those are the ones I use most often but I also have peanut oil and sesame oil. Some may wonder, like my husband, why I have four different kinds of oil. The kind of oil I use depends on what kind of food I’m preparing. For baking, I like to use canola oil but for roasting or sautéing vegetables, I use olive oil.

When deciding what kind of oil you are going to buy, consider three things 1) what it will be used for, 2) how much it costs, and 3) nutrition. Below is a comparison of commonly used oils. You’ll notice olive oil is more expensive than canola or vegetable oil, but keep in mind that typically recipes call for small amounts of olive oil so a bottle lasts a long time.

Type of Oil Uses Cost*** Unit price
(per fl oz)
(48 fluid oz)
Sautéing, baking, frying, marinating 3.59-4.59 .07-.09
(17 fl oz)
Grilling, sautéing, roasting, spreads for breads 7.69-7.99 .45-.47
(48 fl oz)
Sautéing, baking, frying, marinating 3.18-4.39 .06-.09
(24 fl oz)
Stir-frying, roasting, deep frying, baking 3.58-4.98 .15-.21
(8.45 fl oz)
(12.7 fl oz)
Stir-frying (light), dressings/sauces (dark) 5.89-7.89 .70-.62

*usually made from a combination of corn, soybeans, and/or sunflower seeds

**there are light and dark versions of sesame oil

***Costs were found at grocery stores in Central Iowa

Below is a chart that compares the nutritional value of different fats and oils. Saturated and trans fats raise cholesterol levels and are not heart-healthy. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated are considered the ‘good’ fats. Oils high in monounsaturated fats are particularly heart healthy because they lower LDL levels, the ‘bad’ kind of cholesterol. Replacing the fats and oils that are higher in saturated and trans fats with those higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is good for your health.

oil comparison chart

I also noticed while in the grocery store a couple of new oil blends. There is a Natural Blend oil that is a combination of canola, sunflower, and soybean oil. It was $3.59 for a 48 fluid ounce bottle. The other new one I noticed was called Omega and was a combination of canola and extra virgin olive oil. It was $3.99 for a 48 fluid ounce bottle.

For best quality store your oil in a cool, dark place and replace it if it smells “bitter” or “off.”

Watch our recent ‘How To’ video and learn how to make your own salad dressing using the oils in your cupboard.

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Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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68 thoughts on “Vegetable Oils – Comparison, Cost, and Nutrition

  1. Very nice post and video.Would you please let me know that is Vegetable Oils safe for Diabetes patients?

  2. Vegetable oil is safe to eat, but if you are concerned about the influence of oils on diabetes, you should contact your doctor.

  3. You say that recipes call for small amounts of olive oil so it last a long time this is attempt, I believe to negate the price difference in the two oils. Of course people wouldn’t ordinarily deep fry fish in olive oil nor would they use a quarter of a cup of olive oil in baking a cake however they might dribble a little olive oil over some potatoes that they were going to bake. In that instance they could substitute canola oil with substantially the same results.

  4. Mustard is a good emulsifier for salad dressings to keep oil in water and prevent separation. Preference to brown mustard for taste.

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  7. What about vegetable shortening? What is the breakdown in terms of fats?

    I use vegetable oil and shortening when deep frying chicken.

  8. I was hoping to see avacado oul listed, while expensive,it has taken a place in my kitchen.

  9. Thanks for your comment Mike. We will consider writing a future blog on essential fatty acids and their content in different oils.

  10. Our blog is focused on people with limited income so we do consider the cost of items and as you said avocado oil is expensive. Also, when this blog was written in 2013, avocado oil wasn’t as popular as it is now.

  11. The numbers represent the percentage of that type of fat in that oil. For example in coconut oil 6% of the fat is monounsaturated, 2% is polyunsaturated and 92% is saturated fat.

  12. Thanks for your question Shari. It looks like lard or pork fat is 43% saturated fat, 10% polyunsaturated fat, and 47% monounsaturated fat so it would fall between beef and chicken fat.

  13. Thanks for your question Jan. Butter is 68% saturated fat, 4% polyunsaturated fat, and 28% monounsaturated fat so it would be between palm kernel and palm oil. Margarine is made from vegetable oils so it will contain higher amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and less saturated fat.

  14. Thanks for your question Sue. Lard or pork fat is 43% saturated fat, 10% polyunsaturated fat, and 47% monounsaturated fat so it would fall between beef and chicken fat.

  15. Vegetable shortening will vary depending on what type of oils are used to make it but in general it is about 30% saturated fat, 20% monounsaturated fat, and 50% polyunsaturated fat.

  16. Most vegetable oils have little to no trans fat when in their liquid state. If an oil is turned to a solid like partially hydrogenated oil, then it will contain trans fat.
    As far as the health of canola oil, when referring to the type of fat in it, it would be considered a “healthier” oil because of it’s high percentage of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

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