Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health.
Confused about which cooking oil is the healthiest? Join the club.
You’ve probably heard a lot of back and forth about heart health, trans fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, PUFAs (Polyunsaturated fatty acids), MUFAs (Monounsaturated fatty acids) and smoke points when it comes to cooking oils. It can all be a bit confusing, so this article is here to clear it up.
But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.
(high in monounsaturated fats)
Avocado oil is a great choice. It’s unrefined like extra virgin olive oil, but it has a higher smoking point, which means it can be used to cook at higher heat.
Much of the long array of health benefits to avocados is preserved within avocado oil. Avocado oil has one of the highest monounsaturated fat contents among cooking oils, second only to olive oil. It’s even better for you than olive oil: It’s an anti-inflammatory, Avocado oil is extremely high in oleic acid, which protects against cardiovascular disease and is also linked to reducing LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and raising HDL cholesterol, healthy joints, cancer prevention, healthy eyes, enhance absorption of some nutrients and better general health. Like olive oil, avocado oil is also low in polyunsaturated fats. Avocado oil contains vitamin E as well and it doesn’t have much saturated fat.
It has a neutral flavour without being chemically processed like canola and vegetable oil. It’s just creamy, like an avocado. Avocado oil is a great light oil that stays liquid at room temperature (unlike coconut oil) and doesn’t have a very strong flavour (like olive oil), it has a mild flavour similar to an avocado. Avocado oil also has a high smoke point and is, therefore, one of the best oils for high-temperature cooking. It can be used for grilling, pan roasting, stir-frying, sautéing, grilling,, searing or browning, as well as simply using it cold in salad dressings.
One downside is that it tends to be more expensive than those more processed oils and may be harder to find, but if you’re interested in avoiding refined foods, want that high smoke point, and don’t mind the splurge, then this is a great alternative.
Made from: It is extracted from the flesh of avocados.
Best for: Frying, sautéing, searing or browning, as well as simply using it cold in salad dressings.
Not recommended for: Budget cooking.
Pros: This is another oil that’s high in MUFAs with a high smoke point, so it’s great for cooking. It’s also loaded with vitamin E, which may help to strengthen our skin and immune system.
Cons: It can be really expensive.
Note: Make sure you get cold-pressed avocado oil. Cold-pressed avocado oil is less refined than the regular kind and therefore contains more antioxidants. Overall, unrefined oils are more heart-healthy and flavourful. So, choose cold-pressed if you can.
Other uses: Avocado oil is completely ideal for hydration, so use it on your skin and hair to moisturize, protect and preserve.
Smoke point: 204-270°C (400-520°F)
(high in polyunsaturated fats)
While expensive, this oil has immense nutritional value and is safe to be taken in a diet. Walnut oil contains heart-healthy omega-3s in addition to other nutrients. These may help lower lipids, blood pressure and vascular inflammation, all of which support overall health. Walnut oil has a good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which helps keep inflammation in check. Common walnut oil has also the following therapeutic properties: Antiseptic (reduces the risk of catching an infection on an open wound), Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Laxative, Analgesic, Antihypertriglyceridemic, Anti-cancer (Walnut oil may have potential anti-cancer properties against a wide range of cancers – These are being evaluated – This can be attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids and other phytonutrients in walnut oil like ellagitannins), Antioxidant, Weight Loss (Walnut oil may have weight loss, similar to green tea).
The oil can be obtained via solvent extraction or cold pressing. The cold pressed organic walnut oil is best for health.
Another kind of walnut oil is the black walnut oil. Black walnut oil has got its own unique combination of health benefits, which are quite different from the common walnut oil. Black walnut is more of a medicinal herb and its oil also possesses many medicinal properties.
This highly fragrant oil made from walnuts is ideal for desserts and other recipes that benefit from a nutty flavour and a light aroma. The rich, nutty flavour works great as a salad dressing and is frequently used in salad dressings in combination with a less flavourful oil, or simply as a flavour enhancer in baked goods, and drizzled over vegetables or fish. There are some types of walnut oils, roasted varieties have a fuller, deeper flavour and should be used only with finished dishes, not heated. Adding a few drops of this oil to bread dough makes the bread carry a walnut smell. One can make a vinaigrette with walnut oil as an ingredient.
The demand for walnut oil has decreased in recent time, which has led to lower production. Most of the production today comes from France.
Made from: Walnuts.
Best for: Walnut oil does not stand up to high heat due to its low smoke point. Because of this, stick to drizzles of it on salads or other veggies, over pancakes, freshly cut fruit and ice cream.
Not recommended for: its low smoke point means it’s not good for cooking or frying.
Pros: It’s one of the few plant oils that will give you a healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
Cons: Its high PUFA content makes it prone to rancidity, and its low smoke point means it’s not great for cooking.
Note: Use walnut oil in dishes without heating it. It loses much of its nutritional value and antioxidant power when heated.
Other uses: Common walnut oil has several properties. Walnut oil makes a nice base oil (carrier oil) for massage and aromatherapy uses. It is used as a cosmetic ingredient in many skin care products (as Anti-ageing, Skin regenerative, Skin toner, Emollient, Relieves fungal infections of skin). It’s also good for hair to make it smooth and glossy. As wood finishing agent, walnut oil polishes wood and makes it look better. You can also make like Renaissance painters, and use walnut oil as paint, paint thinner and brush cleaner.
Smoke point: 71-204°C(160–200°F)
(high in monounsaturated fats)
There are many varieties of almonds, but they are generally classified into two classes:
- Bitter Almonds – These are almonds that are bitter to taste and are used to produce bitter almond oil. These almonds contain a small amount of hydrogen cyanide, which is extremely poisonous. Do NOT eat Bitter Almonds, eating just a few can lead to vertigo or even death.
- Sweet Almonds – These are the almonds that we are accustomed to eating. They are used to produce sweet almond oil. This oil also has a sweet taste, making almond oil one of the tastiest oils.
Almond oil is reputed for its nutritional quality. It is high in Vitamin E. Rest all vitamins and minerals are in negligible amounts, except for small amounts of Vitamin K. The beneficial properties of Sweet Almond oil makes it so useful in many personal conditions. It provides several health benefits such as anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune booster, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-colon cancer, emollient, sclerosant, laxative, analgesic, muscle relaxation, cicatrizant, and anti-dandruff.
This oil has the flavour of the roasted almonds from which it’s made. The unroasted form is usually labelled “Sweet Almond Oil.” Very light in flavour, without any real nut taste, sweet almond oil is often used by chefs to oil moulds of unbaked desserts. This is also a favourite for baking. It can also be used to sauté or stir-fry oriental foods.
Made from: Almond oil is extracted from almonds.
Best for: Use it in baked goods, pasta, drizzled over vegetables, or on grilled bread. It has a high smoke point, making it good for stir-frying.
Not recommended for: bitter almond oil is extremely poisonous and is hazardous when ingested.
Pros: Besides its uses for skin, hair and the bowel, almond oil in diet can provide significant health benefits.
Cons: Eating just a few of these Bitter Almonds can lead to vertigo or even death.
Note: In general, the properties of sweet almond oil and bitter almond oil are similar for topical application. For internal use, only sweet almond oil is used, and there is no point in discussing the health benefits of bitter almond oil because it is hazardous when ingested.
Other uses: Almond oil is one of the best oils for hair and skin care. It has got lots of nutrients and beneficial properties which make it such a powerful cosmetic ingredient. The results obtained by using almond oil on the skin can be comparable to that of many powerful skin care products, sans all the side effects. It can help one get rid of dark circles in weeks.
Smoke point: 216°C (420°F)
Macadamia nut oil
As well as being delicious, Macadamia oil is packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Macadamia oil owes its stability mostly to its extremely low omega-6 fatty acid content (the lowest of all traditional cooking oils), high monounsaturated fatty acid content (mostly oleic acid, which is higher than olive oil’s content) which lowers your bad cholesterol and results in less chance of heart disease or stroke, and a decent portion of saturated fat. Macadamia nuts can help improve the blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes, could help you maintain healthy blood pressure, could help you burn fat, could help keep bones strong and sturdy, can help support your gut, may help individuals reduce chronic inflammation and arthritis symptoms. Macadamia oil is also very high in natural antioxidants and contains a good ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6, which can have a powerful effect on the overall health of the body. Antioxidants fight off free radicals. A healthy balance of antioxidants can reduce cancer risk, slow the ageing process and lessen the risk of vision loss due to cataracts and macular degeneration. Like most nuts, macadamia nuts are a reliable source of fibre and calories.
With its light, delicate macadamia flavour, this oil is especially good with fish, chicken, vegetables, for salad dressings, or baked goods, essentially anything you’d normally use olive oil for. Macadamia oil imparts a mild, buttery, rather macadamia flavour to foods, but it’s mild enough to use for homemade mayonnaise. It has a high smoke point and can be used for sautéing or stir-frying.
You can also use macadamia oil for personal hygiene (shaving, moisturizing, perhaps even sunblock given the squalene content).
Made from: Macadamia nuts.
Best for: This oil is especially good with fish, chicken, vegetables, for mayo-making, salad dressings, or baked goods, and can be used for sautéing or stir-frying.
Not recommended for: Roasted macadamia oil has a fuller, somewhat nuttier flavour than unroasted and should not be heated. Use it as a finishing oil to drizzle over cooked foods.
Pros: As well as its natural health benefits, the macadamia nut is the perfect oil to use with food. It has a buttery and delicate quality and is perfect for high heat cooking. The high smoking point, combined with the unique cold-pressed extraction method, means when cooking with macadamia nut oil, you are far less likely to burn off the beneficial fats.
Other uses: As well as a food source, their husks can be used for fertiliser, for personal hygiene, the oil is used for a variety of products in the cosmetic industry, and it also can be used as animal feed. The great thing about using macadamia nut oil for your skin is it can be taken internally or topically for great results.
How to store: It is highly shelf-stable and resistant to heat-induced oxidation. If you keep your macadamia oil in a dark bottle and in the fridge, or a cool dark place, I bet it’ll stay fresh even longer.
Smoke point: 199-234°C (390-453°F)
Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:
Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide
But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.
“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .