Liquid Gold: Six Heart-Healthy Oils

Once forced to choose between sunflower oil and lard, we now have seemingly endless options in the cooking fats section of the supermarket.

"And just as runners experiment with different sports nutrition products, we can experiment with oils to optimise health," says sports dietitian Dina Griffin.

She says eating a variety of oils - in moderation - can help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins and reduce your risk of certain diseases. These six also provide some unexpected kicks of flavour.

Picture credit: Jonathan Kantor/ Getty Images

Rapeseed Oil

The vitamin E booster

Rapeseed has alight, neutral flavour and the least saturated fat of all cooking oils. A tablespoon contains 14 per cent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin E, which helps reduce free radical damage.

Good to know: Shops often still label rapeseed as generic vegetable oil. Stored in a dark cupboard, it's shelf-stable for about a year.

Avacado Oil

The cholesterol reducer

Rich in mono-unsaturated fat, buttery avocado oil can help to lower cholesterol levels, says dietitian Cassie Dimmick. And its abundance of phytochemicals may lessen UV-induced cellular damage - great for sun-lovers!

Good to know: With the highest smoke point (the temperature at which oil breaks down) of all plant oils, it's ideal for cooking stir-fries.

Flaxseed Oil

The pain killer

Flaxseed (also called linseed) oil contains more omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil and is one of the few vegetarian sources of the nutrient. "A diet rich in omega-3 can alleviate joint pain," says nutritionist Barbara Lewin.

Good to know: Heat diminishes flaxseed oil's omega-3s and it turns rancid quickly - so only use in cold dishes and store in the fridge.

Walnut Oil

The stress beater

A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that the omega-3 in walnuts helps to regulate your biological reaction to stress. People who have extreme responses to stress are at higher risk of heart disease.

Good to know: Once opened, a bottle of walnut oil lasts between six and 12 months. To prevent it from going bad, store it in the fridge.

Sesame Oil

The blood pressure helper

According to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, diabetics who used sesame as their only oil for 45 days reduced their blood pressure and blood sugar to close to normal levels. This is thought to be due to the oil's high antioxidant count.

Good to know: Sesame oil has an intense flavour, so runners can use it sparingly. "Just a little drizzle makes food taste great," says Dimmick.

Olive Oil

The swelling buster

Rich, peppery extra virgin olive oil is minimally processed, so it retains high levels of the antioxidant oleocanthal. The journal Nature reports that this has inflammation-busting effects - similar to the drug ibuprofen.

Good to know: In sunlight and in contact with air, antioxidants in the oil can start to break down. Store in a cool, dark place.