All posts tagged Cooking Oils

Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

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.

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Olive oil

(high in monounsaturated fats)

Olive oil is my favourite. Because of its prominent role in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is one of the most popular oils in many kitchens. Olive oil is a basic ingredient of the heart-healthy.

Olive oils typically have the highest percentage of monounsaturated fats among cooking oils (although some high-oleic versions of other oils may have artificially boosted levels of monounsaturated fats). Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, beneficial plant compounds that some evidence suggests may improve heart health.

Made from: Extracted from ripe olives (fruit of the olive tree) on the first pressing without the use of heat or chemicals.

Best for: It is best flavoursome oil for cold food (like drizzling over foods, on salads, pasta, and bread), but can be used in some low-heat cooking. Choose Extra Virgin (unrefined) for dressing and low-heat applications so you’ll be able to enjoy its robust flavour. Choose Virgin (also unrefined) or Pure (a blend of virgin and refined oils) for pan-frying, roasting, or baking.

Not recommended: It’s okay to use the oil for a quick sauté or for baking, but it has a low smoke point, do it is not ideal for cooking unless below the smoke point. it’s not good for deep frying.

Pros: It’s rich in polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are also looking into how polyphenols can help to prevent cancer, as well as their potential for improving cognitive function and memory. High in beneficial monounsaturated fats, olive oil is heart-healthy.

Cons: Olive oil has a relatively lower smoke point compared to other oils, so it’s best for low and medium-heat cooking; it’s not good for high-heat cooking.

Note1: Many brands, varying in colour and strength of flavour, are now available. When choosing olive oil, look for ones that say they’re cold pressed. This is a chemical-free process that means no heat was applied during the crushing, which avoids changes in the olive’s chemistry and avoids defects. The resulting oil has a natural level of low acidity.

Note2: Unfortunately, it has been discovered that some unsavoury olive oil dealers have combined olive oil with cheap vegetable oils while still labelling the bottle as 100% olive oil, so make sure the olive oil you buy is pure, otherwise you may unwittingly be consuming unhealthy oils.

How to store: Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.

Smoke point: 190-243°C (374-470°F), depending on variety.

77% MUFA

9% PUFA

14% Saturated

There are different types of Olive Oil:

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin is the highest grade and best tasting Olive Oil derived by cold mechanical extraction (always cold-pressed) without the use of solvents or refining methods. It contains no more than 0.8% free acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste, is considered the finest and fruitiest of the bunch and no defined sensory defects. This also makes it the most expensive to buy than other types of olive oil, but its flavour can’t be substituted for anything else and contains the most antioxidants.

Made from: Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. This results in an oil that has more flavour and a fruity aroma, and is less processed, meaning it is considered “unrefined“.

Best for: Because extra-virgin olive oil offers more flavour than other types of olive oil, it’s a good option for sautéing vegetables, dipping bread or preparing salad dressings and marinades. It’s also one of the healthiest oils to use when baking. As a dressing, it’s great, too.

Not recommended for: Frying or roasting above 190°C (374°F). There are better choices than extra-virgin olive oil for cooking at high temperatures, such as when frying because the oil cannot withstand very high heat before it starts to burn and smoke, Refined (or pure) olive oil may be more suited for high-temperature cooking.

Pros: It’s high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and a quality bottle can truly take you on a taste bud adventure. Nutrition and cooking experts agree that one of the most versatile and healthy oils to cook with and eat is olive oil, as long as it’s extra virgin. You want an oil that is not refined and overly processed. An “extra virgin” label means that the olive oil is not refined, and therefore of high quality. Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids; many studies have linked it to better heart health. Choose extra virgin olive oil for its flavour and high level of antioxidants.

Cons: There’s one catch with extra-virgin versus other grades of olive oil: It has a relatively low smoke point, which means you may not want to use it for frying or roasting at temperatures above that smoke point.

Note: The definition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is very precise regards production methods, taste, and chemical composition. To be certified for the “Extra Virgin” Label, an olive oil:

  1. Must come from the first pressing of fresh olives, normally within 24 hours of harvesting.
  2. Must be extracted by non-chemical, mechanical means, and without the use of excessive heat, specifically below 28°C (82°F).
  3. The free fatty acid or acidity level must be less than 0.8%.
  4. It must be defect free – having a perfect taste and aroma.

Smoke point:

  • Extra virgin, low acidity, high quality – 207°C (405°F)
  • Extra virgin – 190°C (374°F)

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Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is a lesser grade of virgin oil.

This is also first-press olive oil, however, it has between 1 and 3 % acidity, therefore, it is of inferior quality to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you’re unable to find extra virgin olive oil this is the next best option.

It is judged to have a good taste but may include some sensory defects. Its flavour intensity can vary and its taste is milder than Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Smoke point: 210°C (410°F)

Fino olive oil

Meaning fine in Italia, this oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin olive oils.

Refined (or Pure) Olive Oil

Pure olive oil is another oil, but the name can be misleading. Pure is actually a blend of either extra virgin or virgin olive oil and olive oils that are refined. It is used mainly when extracted olive oil is of poor quality and the refining process helps it to have a better flavour.

Refined olive oil is virgin oil that has been refined using agents such as acids, alkalis, charcoal, and other chemical and physical filters, methods which do not alter the glyceridic structure, and heat to extract as much oil as possible from the olive pulp that remains after the first pressing. These are heavily processed oils that have had most of their distinct flavours and aromas removed in the extraction process.

Best for: Frying – If you love frying things in olive oil (which, like, who doesn’t?) you’ll want to use the pure stuff instead of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Not recommended for: Salad dressings.

Cons: Unfortunately, it’s not quite as flavourful, because it’s chemically processed. It also doesn’t have as many heart-healthy fats as high-quality extra-virgin. While it is still a source of monounsaturated fat, it no longer contains the polyphenols that make olive oil so good for you. The result is a fattier and more acidic oil which lacks taste, aroma and natural antioxidants. But that’s the trade-off for being able to use it for heavy duty cooking.

Note: Many times, refined olive oil is used when frying as the taste is not as remarkable as the virgin oils. A product labelled simply Olive Oil is nearly the same as something marked Pure Olive Oil in that it is refined with lack of taste. This is why producers need to add unrefined Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oil to impart some of flavour, colour, and aroma into the blend.

Smoke point: 199-243°C (390-470°F), which can stand up to that frying heat.

Light olive oil

Terms such as “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” are made up terms used by large producers and supermarkets. If the label states “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” then the Olive Oil is a refined oil lacking the taste, aroma, and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Best for: A great choice for turning into sauces and mayonnaise, using in baking or using in places you don’t want a strong olive oil flavour. It also has a higher smoking point than other olive oils, making it ideal for high-heat cooking.

Cons: A highly processed, light coloured oil with very little flavour.

Olive Pomace Oil

The lowest grade of olive oil made from the byproducts of extra virgin olive oil production. Olive skins, seeds, and pulp are heated and the remaining oil is extracted using hexane, a solvent. The result, pomace oil, is then put through the refining process, similar to pure or light olive oil. Pomace olive oil is bland and extremely low in antioxidants.

Lampante Oil

Oil with severe defects, usually from bad fruit or poor processing practices. It is not fit for human consumption until it has been refined

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Flaxseed Oil

(high in Polyunsaturated fats)

Flaxseed has become more and more popular as a superfood recently, with its high fibre content and fairly high doses of omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources, which are extremely healthy for us, since omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and control blood pressure. Flaxseed oil is one of best plant sources of three omega-3 fatty acids (olive and canola oils also contain omega-3s). You need dietary omega-3s since your body cannot make them on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and thus may help lower the risk of cancer, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Also thought to be helpful in fighting heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

You may want to look into using it more often if you don’t eat a lot of fish, but it’s hard to consume enough to get the benefits offered by omega-3s in fish. Subtle taste makes it a healthy alternative for salads.

It is also a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids to promote decreased total LDL cholesterol and increased HDL. Flaxseed oil also packs anti-inflammatory properties, keeping the body primed to ward off disease. Flaxseed oil may also help reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Made from: Cold-pressed flaxseed.

Best for: it’s best to use in cold dishes like smoothies or salads, so toss with a salad dressing or drizzling it over quinoa or dips like hummus.

Not recommended for: Cooking. It should not be heated. You absolutely can’t cook with it, because of the low smoke-point, it’s incredibly sensitive to heat and oxidizes quickly.

Pros: Since the oil is more condensed than whole flaxseeds, it provides a greater punch of omega-3s Flaxseed oil is also a terrific option for individuals suffering from high blood pressure, and studies show that supplementing with flaxseed oil on a daily basis can lower blood pressure and have a cardioprotective effect.

Cons: Avoid it if you’re on a blood thinner since flaxseed oil may increase bleeding. It can go rancid very quickly (even faster if you heat it), so this oil should be stored in the fridge and only used for low-temperature applications like dressing salads.

Other uses: the oil can be used as a mild laxative of sorts. On top of that, it’s also a solid option for moisturizing skin. You may also find this oil in various substances, like varnishes and paints, as a waterproofing agent.

Note: you should buy small bottles so you can use it up quickly, and be extra sure to store it in the fridge.

How to store: Cold-pressed flaxseed oil easily turns rancid (oxidizes easily), so buy it from the refrigerated section of the store, and keep it in your fridge at home.

Smoke point: Unrefined – 107°C (225°F), don’t use this for cooking.

18% MUFA

73% PUFA

9% saturated

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Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

go to top

Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

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.

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Canola

(high in Monounsaturated fats & a good source of Polyunsaturated)

Canola oil is one of the most neutral flavour options among all oils, making it extremely versatile. Made from canola seeds, a genetic variation of rapeseed, a flowering plant which is widely cultivated in Canada and is responsible for its name, a derivative of “Canadian oil, low acid.” (The “low acid” refers to versions of the rapeseed plant that are bred to have low erucic acid content. High levels of erucic acid can be toxic.).

Canola oil also has relatively high monounsaturated fat content. But although it contains a higher proportion of monounsaturated fat (61-62 %), canola oil is also a good source of polyunsaturated fat (32 %). In addition, canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fat among cooking oils (7 %). It is also one of the few oils that contain a good plant-based source of omega-3 fats, a beneficial type of polyunsaturated fat.

People often think of it as unhealthy because they associate it with fried food. It isn’t actually all that bad for you on its own. This is one of the healthiest oils available thanks to its fatty acid profile, omega-3 and low saturated fat contents. Canola oil is also very versatile as it has a neutral taste and light texture. The omega-3s and omega-6s may help with cardiovascular health. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided that manufacturers could claim that 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil a day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when used instead of saturated fat.

Canola oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil and can be used safely for cooking at high temperatures. It doesn’t have as much flavour as some other vegetable and seed oils, though, so you may not want to use it in recipes like salad dressings where you want the oil to add some flavour.

The reason it has a high smoke point is that it is chemically processed, but that doesn’t have much of an effect on its health qualities. Canola oil tends to be highly processed, which means fewer nutrients overall. Cold-pressed or unprocessed canola oil is available, but it can be difficult to find. Canola oil is also often highly-refined, which removes undesirable tastes, smells, or colours. Refined and unrefined oils have the same fatty acid profile. However, cold-pressed or unrefined oils contain more plant chemicals that contribute to their healthfulness.

So, might not pack quite as many benefits as your other oil selections, but its versatility should still make it a staple. Canola oil is a versatile and practical cooking oil that’s not very expensive and can be used in a variety of ways, from baking and grilling to stir-frying and making salad dressings.

Made from: The seeds of the canola plant, a crossbreed of the rapeseed plant that’s lower in potentially dangerous erucic acid.

Best for: light cooking, searing meat, mayonnaise, frying, sauces, stir-fries, roasting, and baking, muffins and light cakes.

Not recommended for: Sautéing and salad dressings. Because it has a neutral taste that doesn’t do much for your food in the flavour department, cooks don’t usually recommend using it for sautéing.

Pros: This oil has it all: It’s higher in omega-3s than most other plant oils; it’s composed of mostly MUFAs. It has a relatively high smoke point, so it’s more resistant to heat-related breakdown. Thus it’s great for all-around cooking.

Cons: Almost all canola grown in North America is genetically modified, so choose organic if you want to avoid GMOs.

Note 1: use in all kinds of dishes, not drizzle to your heart’s content, as canola is still high-fat and caloric. You can use this oil to sauté, bake, roast, stir-fry and more. Also, you can cut 1:1 with olive oil when making salad dressings, if you think the olive flavour is nice, but a bit too strong.

Note 2: Non-organic canola oil is also usually processed using a chemical solvent called hexane, but the trace amounts of hexane found in the finished product are not a threat to your health. Still, if you really want to avoid it, choose organic (hexane is not allowed in organic production), cold-pressed, or expeller-pressed canola.

Other uses: Europe is putting a lot of stock into canola as a biofuel. You’ll also find it in candles, lipsticks, even newspaper ink. Again, “versatility” is the word.

Smoke point:

  • 220-230°C (428–446°F)
  • (Rapeseed) Expeller press – 190-232°C (375-450°F)
  • (Rapeseed) Refined – 204°C (400°F)
  • (Rapeseed) Unrefined – 107°C (225°F)

61% MUFA

32% PUFA

7% saturated

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Corn oil

(also known as maize oil)

(high in Polyunsaturated fats)

Corn oil is quite a healthy oil because it is composed mainly of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low on saturated fat. It is also used in skin care and hair care, besides many other industrial applications.

Corn oil is dark in colour when unrefined. As it gets refined, it turns pale yellow in colour. It has a nutty taste with a hint of corn as well. One can literally feel the taste of corn on the cob in the unrefined, cold pressed oil. However, refined and processed oils lose their aroma and much of the taste as well.

Made from the endosperm of corn kernels, corn oil is used in the production of many kinds of margarine.

There is a popular misconception that corn is a vegetable. It is actually a grain. Corn originated and was bred from a tall grass-like plant that somewhat resembled wheat.

There are various methods of extracting oil from the seed-germs. However, the best oil in terms of health benefits is the cold pressed oil. The oil when extracted is dense and needs to be refined before it is used for cooking purposes. One can also use unrefined oil as it contains more of health-boosting plant phytochemicals. The common process of making corn oil involves expeller pressing. The oil is then treated with a solvent. After that, it is refined which gets rid of free fatty acids. Finally, it is sent through steam distillation to get rid of volatile organic compounds. However, this process leads to a loss of useful compounds and also leads to contamination with the solvent, although very small. A few producers make 100 % pure unrefined corn oil which is extracted using the cold pressed method. This is expensive than other corn oils, but it is natural and organic.

Corn oil is very easily available. One can get it any food store. However, one needs to do some searching to find extra virgin corn oil which is cold pressed and unrefined. This one would cost a few bucks more.

Made from: extracted from the germ (the small germinating part of the seed) of corn.

Best for: It can be used in baking, and because it has a high smoke point it is also good for sautéing, stir and deep frying.

Not recommended for: Corn oil makes hair more manageable, although it is not recommended to use it as hair oil.

Pros: Its high smoke point. Plus, the most studied property of corn oil is its ability to lower LDL blood cholesterol when taken within limits unless corn oil is taken in such high amounts that its saturated fat content increases cholesterol levels. Corn oil contains Vitamin E which is an antioxidant. Corn oil is good for the health of the cardiovascular system if taken within limits. Like olive oil, it reduces blood pressure post-consumption in hypertensive patients, however, as always, one should keep the consumption of fats within limits, no matter how healthy.

Cons: Reduction of LDL cholesterol alone does not mean your heart disease risk is reduced. Also, keep in mind that corn oil has an omega-6 to an omega-3 ratio of 49:1. The optimal ratio is 4:1. Corn oil has 58% omega-6 fatty acids, which, is too high and can lead to inflammation, like arthritis and acne. Therefore, one should make sure to eat enough omega-3 in the diet as well. It is all about balance. You probably also know that almost all corn grown in North America is genetically modified, so the corn oil will be, too (unless you buy organic).

Other uses: It is a nice emollient, though not as good as the well-known massage oils like olive, coconut or sweet almond, corn oil can be used for massage oil, although it is not that popular. It can carry essential oils and as such can be used in aromatherapy massages. It has a mild nutty flavour which should go well with essential oils of nuts. It is a moisturizer for the skin. Corn oil is a gentle oil and one can use it as a base oil for household products like lip balms, salves, creams, and night oils. Other common uses also are: Soap making, Carrier for medicines, As an ingredient in insecticides, Preventing corrosion on iron surfaces (rustproofing), Manufacture of nitroglycerin, It is also used in biodiesel technology.

Note: Corn oil is generally not toxic if it has been produced using the cold pressed method. If solvents were used to extract the oil, then it can lead to serious adverse health effects in the long run. Corn oil is one of the few vegetable oils that contains trans fats. However, 100 gm of corn oil contains just 0.3 gm of trans fats. Even though trans fats are really bad for cardiovascular health, this amount is pretty small.

How to store: This oil needs to be stored in the refrigerator otherwise it turns cloudy. It does not have an impressive shelf life and that only gets worse if it is exposed to light and heat.

Smoke point:

  • 230-238°C (446-460°F)
  • Unrefined – 178°C (352°F)

25% MUFA

62% PUFA

13% saturated

go to top

Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

go to top

Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

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.

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Soybean oil

(high in Polyunsaturated fats)

Soybean oil has a neutral taste that blends well with lots of dishes. Soybean oil is often used for frying and for other high-heat methods of cooking. Hydrogenated forms, because they preserve texture and provide a rich mouthfeel, can have a long shelf life, and are a common ingredient in packaged snacks, frozen foods, and condiments like mayonnaise. This oil is also used extensively in the manufacturing of margarine.

In addition to healthy polyunsaturated fats and the Vitamin E of other oils, soybean also packs vitamin K, which is important for bone health. But be careful: this is often used in packaged goods with lots of trans fat (the worst kind).

Its versatility has made it popular but with high omega-6 content, even though it does contain omega-3 (ALA) you’d better choose something else.

Made from: Soybeans.

Best for: deep-frying, roasting, baking, and general cooking.

Not recommended for: Sautéing and salad dressings.

Pros: It’s cheap and widely available.

Cons: Just about everything else this oil one of the worst. It’s almost always refined, and it’s typically found in processed foods and snack items. Plus, it’s usually genetically modified, and new research shows it may be even more harmful than sugar.

Note: In general, there is a lot of controversy surrounding soy, especially when it comes to GMO (genetically modified organisms) sources. So, this particular oil may be best kept off the shopping list unless you are using a non-hydrogenated source clearly labelled as non-GMO.

Other uses: You may see soybean oil as an ingredient in skincare and haircare products; the antioxidants protect against free-radical damage related to sources like pollutants and the sun. Interestingly, it may also be used as an insect repellent.

Smoke point: 234°C (453°F)

24% MUFA

61% PUFA

15% saturated

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Vegetable oil

The term “vegetable oil” is used to refer to any oil that comes from plant sources, and the healthfulness of a vegetable oil depends on its source and what it’s used for. This inexpensive oil is often a blend of several different oils such as canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm, cottonseed and sunflower oils in varying proportions. It’s called ‘vegetable’ so that the manufacturers can substitute whatever commodity oil they want without having to print a new label.

Widely used for deep frying, this oil is high in saturated fats and has very few health benefits. Still, vegetable oils are refined and processed, which means they not only lack flavour, but also nutrients. Vegetable oil is guaranteed to be highly processed. Vegetable oil is kind of a sister to canola oil. It’s also chemically processed, has a similarly high smoke point (400 to 450 degrees F), and is neutral flavour. Again, these characteristics make it a versatile, all-purpose cooking oil for sautéing, roasting, frying, and baking.

Although vegetable oil sounds nice and natural because it seems like it’s made of vegetables, about 99% of the time a bottle of vegetable oil is actually just soybean oil. While vegetable oil blends sometimes contain oils from seeds, like canola or safflower, they’re usually composed largely of soybean. Vegetable oil made from soybeans is a neutral-tasting oil that does not have much flavour.

While vegetable oil can be used as an umbrella term for all plant-based oils, as I mentioned earlier, that it can also be used by companies (on ingredient labels) as a generic term for trans fats, which are terrible for you. There’s nothing redeeming about trans fats. They definitely increase cholesterol levels and cause inflammation. And it’s not the healthiest oil ever since the chemical processing depletes the natural mineral content—and that’s why it has that high smoke point. They’re not necessarily bad for you but you can get so much more benefit from olive oil. Processed oils have been pushed past their heat tolerance and have become rancid in the processing. Some of these oils, especially palm, are associated with more degradation of land for production.

And I thought vegetable oils were healthy.

go to top

Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

go to top

Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

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.

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Peanut oil

(marketed as “groundnut oil” in the UK and India)

(high in Monounsaturated fats)

Pale-gold oil with a subtle hint of the peanut’s richness.

Peanut oil has a pretty even proportion of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats, and along with vitamin E. Among cooking oils, peanut oil has one of the highest monounsaturated fat (48%) contents among cooking oils. Peanut oil has a similar percentage of polyunsaturated fat (34%) to canola oil. Its percentage of saturated fat (18%) is higher than that of other vegetable oils, but not to the point that it’s a concern for heart health and it still has less saturated fat than coconut or palm oils. The high monounsaturated content in this oil makes it a heart-friendly choice that is great for frying due to its high smoking point and neutral taste, so you can even use it to fry foods like tempura. Still, because of peanut oil’s high smoke-point, you may retain less of the oil than if you were to use something with a lower smoke point. The oil contains resveratrol, which has been studied for its protective effects against cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and viral infections.

Nut oils, like peanut, can be fun to experiment within the kitchen, especially since there are so many different types. It’s usually flavourful with a nutty taste and smell and cooks well at high heat. Peanut oil is one of the more flavourful oils out there. Meaning, you should probably only use it if you want your food to be peanut flavoured. It’s recommended adding it to peanut butter cookies. It is a good choice for cooking Asian-inspired meals and stir-fries, according to food experts. Like vegetable and canola oil, it is also chemically processed and fairly low in saturated fat.

Available both roasted and unroasted, peanut oil is delicious in salad dressings and sauces. Use the unroasted variety for frying because of its higher smoke point.

Made from: This is made from pressed, steamed cooked peanuts.

Best for: Use in cooking, marinades – especially for poultry, for salad dressings, stir-frying, deep-frying, sautéing, roasting, and other forms of high-heat cooking.

Not recommended for: Foods that shouldn’t taste like a peanut.

Pros: The super high smoke point means peanut oil is a great choice for deep-frying.

Cons: It can sometimes be chemically extracted. Pick varieties labelled “roasted,” “toasted,” or “expeller-pressed” to avoid this.

Note: Although the oil is ideal for deep-frying, just say no. Just because you can deep-fry something doesn’t mean you should. Peanut oil is also good for sautéing or can be used in sauces and dressings.

Other uses: Like a lot of other oils, peanut oil can be used in skincare, sometimes applied directly to the skin to treat dryness and eczema, and has even been shown to be helpful with joint pain.

Smoke point:

  • Refined – 232°C (450°F)
  • Unrefined – 160°C (320°F)

48% MUFA

34% PUFA

18% saturated

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Sesame Oil

(high in Polyunsaturated & Monounsaturated fats)

Oil pressed from sesame seeds, which imparts to it their nut-like flavour. Used primarily as a seasoning. Sesame oil lends a nutty flavour to any dish, especially toasted sesame oil, which has a darker colour and bolder flavour. It’s not usually used as a cooking fat and is often used more for its intense and potent flavouring, a little goes a long way. Sesame oil adds so much to a dish, so you don’t need to use a lot. This oil is popular in Asian dishes, dark and flavourful, this pungent oil accentuates many Asian dishes and should only be used sparingly. It is high in antioxidants and should be used anywhere you want a slightly sweet, nutty flavour. Added during the final minutes of cooking. In combination with a lighter flavoured oil, it works well in salad dressings and sauces.

And like extra-virgin olive oil, it’s cold-pressed rather than chemically processed, which makes it good for both salad dressings and sautéing. It’s a good unrefined option if that’s what you’re looking for. It has a medium smoke-point, which makes it best for light sautéing, sauces and low-heat baking. Sesame oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically linoleic acid, which is an omega-6, though it’s not especially high in other nutrients.

If you have a peanut allergy (or just aren’t fond of that peanut flavour), this is a great alternative to peanut oil.

Sesame oil comes in cold-pressed and roasted forms. The dark-brown roasted oil is usually sold in the Asian foods section in supermarkets. Cold-pressed sesame oil, which is light in colour and delicate in flavour, is available in health-food stores.

Made from: Oil pressed from toasted sesame seeds.

Best for: As finishing oil in soups, dressings, stir-fries, grilling, sautéing. Use light sesame oil for stir-frying, and dark sesame oil when making dressings or sauces.

Not recommended for: Foods that shouldn’t taste like sesame.

Pros: It’s got a relatively medium-high smoke-point.

Cons: It’s doesn’t have much by way of nutrients, and it has an unfavourably high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.

Note: If you’re checking store shelves, realize that colour impacts flavour. The darker sesame oil is bolder in flavour than the lighter version. So, depending on how robust a nutty flavour you want, choose wisely. Refrigerate sesame oil after opening it.

Other uses: Super-versatile. In India, sesame oil is often used as a massage oil on the skin, scalp and hair. It’s also used in a variety of cosmetics, soaps, insecticides and other lubricants.

Smoke point:

  • Unrefined – 177°C (350°F)
  • Semirefined – 232°C (450°F)

39.7% MUFA

42% PUFA

14% saturated

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Safflower oil

(High-oleic is high in Polyunsaturated and high-linoleic in Monounsaturated fats)

Nope, not sunflower: it’s saf–flower. This oil is made from the seeds of the plant by the same name.

Flavourless, colourless, and relatively odourless. Safflower oil comes in two varieties: high-oleic and high-linoleic. High-oleic safflower oil contains monounsaturated fats, while high-linoleic safflower oil contains polyunsaturated fats. It’s naturally high in Omega-6 fatty acids. High oleic oils are heart-healthy due to increased monounsaturated fats and are also becoming popular in processed foods because they are more shelf stable than polyunsaturated fats. With its light taste and high levels of unsaturated fats, safflower oil can become a staple in your household. Moderate consumption of either form may benefit your health. With its elevated smoke point, it stands up well to searing, browning and deep-frying.

If you’re still sceptical of vegetable and canola oils, may I recommend safflower oil? Safflower oil is low in saturated fats, high in omega-9 fatty acids, and it has a neutral flavour and high smoke point, making it excellent for frying, and contains more polyunsaturates than any other oil. Safflower oil is sold both chemically processed and cold-pressed like olive oil, and either version you opt for will have that same high smoke point.

Made from: from the seeds of Safflower

Best for: Searing, browning, sautéing and deep-frying

Not recommended for: Salad dressings.

Pros: Safflower oil can tolerate both high and low temperatures.

Cons: It does not provide any flavour. Nutritionally, safflower oil lacks a vital vitamin provided by other oils but is a better choice than other types of fat.

Note: Use safflower oil when you don’t want an overwhelming flavour to your dish, like in a stir-fry, curry or in any variety of baked goods.

Other uses: One of the oldest crops in our history, safflower has also been used in dyes. One pharmaceutical maker even tried using this plant to make human insulin but said the company is now defunct.

Smoke point:

  • Unrefined – 107°C (225°F)
  • Semirefined – 160°C (320°F)
  • Refined – 266°C (510°F)

MUFA

  • High-oleic: 75.2%
  • high-linoleic: 14.36%

PUFA

  • High-oleic: 12.8%
  • high-linoleic: 74.62%

6.2% saturated

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Sunflower oil

(high in Polyunsaturated fats)

Pale, relatively flavourless sunflower oil has a light taste and appearance, which makes it a versatile ingredient used in salad dressings and for cooking oil.

Made from the same sunflower seeds you like snacking on, this oil is a favourite both in food and for frying. Sunflower oil is low in saturated fat and sunflower oil is higher in antioxidant vitamin E than any other oil; one tablespoon contains 28% of a person’s daily recommended intake of the nutrient, so drizzle this to employ some free-radical-fighting powers. It is the oil of choice for many health brands.

Sunflower oil has one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fat (69-72%) among cooking oils. It supplies some monounsaturated fat (16-20 %) and is low in saturated fat (11-12 %), making it an overall heart-healthy option.

Sunflower oil is a good all-purpose oil to have in your kitchen because it can withstand high cooking temperatures. It has a high smoke point so it stands up well to heat and doesn’t have a strong flavour, which means it won’t overwhelm a dish. It can also be used in low-heat cooking methods or in a sauce or as an ingredient in sunflower seed butter.

Shoppers may also see “high-oleic” versions of sunflower or canola oils on supermarket shelves or high-oleic oils listed on the ingredient lists of processed foods. These oils have been modified to be richer in oleic acid, which boosts their levels of monounsaturated fat. High-oleic sunflower oil, for example, would have a fatty acid profile that would more closely resemble an oil that is mainly monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, than it would conventional sunflower oil.

Food manufacturers are turning to high-oleic oils as a replacement for trans fats, which are hydrogenated oils that can extend processed foods’ shelf life, according to nutrition experts. As manufacturers eliminate their use of unhealthy trans fats, high-oleic oils have taken their place because these mostly monounsaturated fats are more shelf-stable than polyunsaturated fats.

Made from: pressed from sunflower seeds

Best for: as a substitute for canola oil, frying, salad dressings, and baking for muffins and cakes.

Pros: This oil has both a high smoke point and a neutral flavour that lends itself well to lots of dishes.

Cons: It’s comprised of almost entirely omega-6 fatty acids with no omega-3. The body needs them, but omega-6s are thought to be pro-inflammatory, while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Consuming too many omega-6s without balancing with omega 3s, could lead to excess inflammation in the body, so moderation is key.

Other uses: Again, you can keep this one on hand for skincare woes, too. Sunflower oil is sometimes used as a massage oil or as a topical treatment for wounds, psoriasis or arthritis.

Smoke point:

  • Neutralized, dewaxed, bleached & deodorized – 252-254°C (486–489°F)
  • Semirefined 232°C (450°F) / 227°C (441°F)
  • Unrefined, first cold-pressed, raw – 107°C (225°F)
  • High oleic – Refined – 232°C (450°F)
  • High oleic – Unrefined – 160°C (320°F)

16% MUFA

72% PUFA

12% saturated

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Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

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Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

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.

Grapeseed oil

This versatile cooking oil is an example of recycling as it is extracted from grape seeds left over from winemaking.

Grapeseed oil has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fat, with a similar fatty acid profile to soybean oil. I know this one is going to be a big shocker for a lot of people, especially since grapeseed oil is constantly marketed as such a healthy cooking oil. Although the polyunsaturated fat in grapeseed oil may help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and vitamin E has been shown to fight inflammation, grapeseed oil is about 70% omega-6 fatty acid. Too much omega-6s PUFAs causes inflammation which is the true cause of heart disease and can lead to other health problems like cancer and autoimmune disorders. Oils that are high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats like grapeseed oil are very fragile and therefore prone to oxidation. When an oil oxidizes it creates free radicals which can also lead to cancer, inflammation, hormonal imbalance and thyroid damage. Even cold pressed grapeseed oil may not be harmed during processing, but it is still high in omega-6s. Some makers of grapeseed oil will go on about how “pure” and wholesome their product is compared to other oils or even other brands of grapeseed oil. That’s probably because most grapeseed oil is industrially processed with hexane and other toxic, carcinogenic solvents used to extract and clean the oil, with traces of these chemicals remaining in the final product. However, expeller-pressed processed grapeseed oil is still rife with polyunsaturated fat, in concentrations which are highly toxic to humans. Doesn’t matter how “pure” those PUFAs are.

It is also an industrially processed oil, so it becomes oxidized while it is made.

Grapeseed oil is low in saturated fat and has a high smoke point, which makes it a choice for all kinds of cooking and grilling. It is also popular with chefs since it has an extremely high smoke point, and you can use it in frying, sautéing or other high-heat cooking methods.

A favourite of chefs and foodies, grapeseed oil is light in colour and flavour, with a mild, slightly nutty taste that works well with a variety of other, stronger flavours. Neutral in flavour, sub it for olive oil in salad dressings, sauces, or condiments like homemade mayonnaise, where you don’t want any flavour because it emulsifies well and won’t separate as easily as other oils might. Its nutty but mild flavour also works well drizzled over roasted veggies. This oil is also used to make margarine.

Made from: the seeds of grapes used to make wine.

Best for: mayonnaise, dressings, dips and sauces.

Not recommended for: It’s not going to kill you if you use a bit of grapeseed oil here and there, but it’s not an oil you should be using all the time as your primary cooking oil.

Pros: It has a relatively high smoke point.

Cons: It’s another oil high in omega-6 fatty acids with basically no omega-3s. Plus, there’s a small toxicity concern: Grapeseed oil can occasionally have dangerous levels of harmful compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs*) due to the drying process, which involves direct contact with combustion gases. Whenever possible, buy organic grapeseed oil, as this means it is produced without any chemical substances.

* PAHs are not unique to grapeseed oil—you can be exposed to them by eating charred foods, too. Don’t fear grapeseed as a lone source of these compounds.

Note1: If using in a salad dressing, stick to about one teaspoon per serving of the dressing—you’ll get the great flavour without going overboard. For frying, pour the oil into a spritzer bottle and spray onto a nonstick skillet to keep calories down.

Note2: Most people consume too many omega-6s in the diet (from corn, soy and processed foods) so should work towards lowering them and raising omega-3s (from fish, seafood, flax and chia).

Other uses: Mix with other oils to make a massage oil or use as a moisturizer. Use grapeseed oil as a treatment for skin injuries, or use as a lubricant while shaving.

How to store: Store grapeseed oil in the refrigerator to prevent it from becoming rancid.

Smoke point: 198-216°C (390 -421°F)

16% MUFA

71% PUFA

12% saturated

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Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide 

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide 

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide 

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

go to top

Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

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.

You may be surprised to find that some of the worst cooking oils & fats are ones that you may have been told are “healthy”. If you care about your health, make sure you’re not using any of these worst cooking oils & fats.

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Coconut oil

Some oils, like coconut oil, remain controversial. Depending on whom you ask, coconut oil should either be avoided or embraced in moderation. Coconut oil is one of the most well-known and widely used oils in the world today. However, it was not so well known to the northern regions in the recent past.

A spurt in medicinal research and an increase in awareness about the extremely beneficial properties of this oil have led to its growing popularity the world over. But, it is also the most debated oil among health communities. The main point of conflict is its high saturated fat content; unlike other plant-based oils, coconut oil is primarily saturated fat. Not everyone agrees that such a concentrated source of saturated fat is a no-go for health, but some experts, including the American Heart Association, argue that replacing foods that are high in saturated fat with healthier options can lower blood cholesterol levels and improve lipid profiles. Still, science is starting to suggest that not all saturated fats are bad for you. This may not be the same unhealthy saturated fat found in animal products as the one found in red meat that clogs your arteries. However, those with high cholesterol should avoid coconut oil. It would be difficult to get your LDL cholesterol into healthy ranges eating a lot of coconut oil. The 2017 advisory report from the American Heart Association did not recommend the use of coconut oil. The panel concluded that coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a known cause of heart disease, and has no known to offset favourable effects.

Coconut oil does not have any unique heart-health benefits, meaning its perception by the public as a healthful food is probably not justified from a scientific perspective. There is not any reason to use coconut oil rather than unsaturated oils, and there are potential disadvantages from its high content of saturated fat.

That’s not to say this oil is going to make you sick, but don’t go overboard. “I am not anti-coconut oil”, our bodies do need some saturated fat. But the industry has done a good job to make it seem like it’s a superfood. The research is definitely not there.

Coconut oil isn’t quite the miracle cream it’s advertised as. Well, actually, as a cream, it is kind of a miracle worker, but when it comes to preparing meals, we can’t suggest a free pass to eat as much as you want. In fact, by some measures, it’s about as healthy as butter. In fact, coconut oil has more saturated fat than the same amount of butter or lard. The reason it’s solid at room temperature is that it has a high content of saturated fat. Nutrition experts recommended using it only sparingly.

So, you’re better off using other oils, like extra-virgin olive oil. The exception: baking. Consumers seem to have bought into the hype that it’s among the healthier options, and vegans, who eat no animal fat, may use it as a butter substitute. That creamy, fatty quality makes coconut oil a great vegan butter alternative for baked goods. If you do want to use it for other methods like sautéing or roasting, know that it has a relatively low smoke point. It is often used in commercial baked goods. It has a mellow, slightly coconut-y flavour that works with a variety of other flavours, sweet and savoury alike.

Its fat can boost metabolism. This has a high amount of medium chain triglycerides, so it’s good for people who have some trouble absorbing fats due to certain medical conditions. However, it’s also fairly high in saturated fat, so it may possibly increase your total cholesterol.

There are many varieties of coconut oil:

  • Virgin Coconut oil (VCO) – This coconut oil is derived without the use of any substances or methods which alter the composition of natural coconut oil. That means virgin coconut oil is extracted from mechanical methods. Virgin coconut oil has a sharp coconutty aroma and tastes like coconut. Extra virgin coconut oil is actually a misnomer, as it is the same as virgin coconut oil.
  • Solvent-based extraction – In this method, hexane is used to extract coconut oil from the slurry. It yields more oil and is thus popular. This oil should not be used for edible purposes, and even for the skin.
  • RBD (Refined, Bleached and Deodorized) Coconut oil –This is the most widely used coconut oil. It is not as good as virgin coconut oil, but it is ideal for cooking and cosmetic purposes. This oil has very little of the characteristic coconut aroma.
  • Hydrogenated Coconut oil – In this oil, the small amount of unsaturated fats too are hydrogenated and thus making it unhealthy. It might contain some trans fats as well.

Made from: the kernel or meat of mature coconuts

Best for: general cooking and baking. It is particularly loved for making popcorn and chips.

Not recommended for: Frying.

Pros: Coconut oil is composed of a special kind of saturated fat called a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA). MCFAs are burned rapidly by the liver and used for energy instead of being stored as fat. Coconut oil, like palm fruit oil, also has a long shelf life.

Cons: we shouldn’t leap onto the coconut oil bandwagon with abandon just yet. While the newest research suggests that not all saturated fats are created equal, and coconut oil may be a better option than butter, from a heart health perspective, it still can’t compete with unsaturated fats like olive oil.

Note: Because the jury’s still not out on the impact of saturated fat on cardiac health, you may want to be conservative in the amount you use compared to sources of unsaturated fat if you are concerned about heart disease.

Other uses: Coconut oil is one of the best natural things for our skin. Coconut oil is a multi-use miracle product. Use it as a make-up remover, a moisturizer, or even a way to clean teeth by swirling the oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes or so before spitting out.

How to store: Coconut oil is the most stable oil. It has a remarkable shelf life of 2 years and does not go rancid at room temperatures or even higher temperatures. So, you can buy the largest size of coconut oil and not be worried about storage. However, it is important to buy coconut oil from a reputed brand.

Smoke point:

  • Refined, dry – 232°C (450°F)
  • Unrefined, dry expeller pressed, virgin – 177°C (350°F)

6% MUFA

2% PUFA

92% saturated

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Palm oil

Palm oil comes from the fleshy fruit of palms trees native to Africa, where it has been consumed for thousands of years. Unrefined palm oil is sometimes referred to as red palm oil because of its reddish-orange colour. It is important to note that palm oil should not be confused with palm kernel oil. While both originate from the same plant, palm kernel oil is extracted from the seed of the fruit. It provides different health benefits. Crude palm oil comes from squeezing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil which comes from crushing the kernel, or the stone (nut) in the middle of the fruit. It is semi-solid at room temperature and differs from palm kernel oil in nutritional composition. Palm kernel oil is extremely high in saturated fat and is used chiefly in soap making.

Dende is a deep-orange oil that comes from the fruit of the red palm (but not the same palm as the source for palm oil). It is a common ingredient in Brazilian dishes.

All around the world, palm oil consumption is increasing. However, when it comes to cooking oils, palm oil is typically considered the most controversial of the options – for both health and environmental reasons. There is a debate over whether consumption of palm oil is associated with health risks or benefits, despite it being free of trans-fat. On one hand, it’s reported to provide several health benefits. On the other, it may pose risks to heart health. There are also environmental concerns related to the steady increase in its production.

In fractionated palm oil, the liquid portion is removed by a crystallizing and filtering process. The remaining solid portion is higher in saturated fat and has a higher melting temperature.

Since about 1900, palm oil has been increasingly incorporated into food by the global commercial food industry because it remains stable in deep frying, or in baking at very high temperatures, and for its high levels of natural antioxidants, though the refined palm oil used in industrial food has lost most of its carotenoid content (and its orange-red colour).

Palm oil is one of the least expensive and most popular oils worldwide, accounting for one-third of global plant oil production.

Palm oil is also high in saturated fat. Because they’re at risk for heart disease, people with diabetes should pay close attention to their saturated fat consumption and avoid sources of the fat like palm oil, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Palm oil is 100% fat, half of which is saturated. It also contains vitamin E and red palm oil contains antioxidants called carotenoids, which your body can convert into vitamin A. The main type of saturated fat found in palm oil is palmitic acid, which contributes 44% of its calories. It also contains high amounts of oleic acid and smaller amounts of linoleic acid and stearic acid.

Palm oil is usually a deep red colour and is very high in antioxidants, vitamin E and carotenoids which can be converted to Vitamin A. Palm oil can help improve vitamin A status in people who are deficient or at risk of deficiency. Red palm oil has also been shown to help boost vitamin A levels in adults and young children.

Palm oil is an excellent source of tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E with strong antioxidant properties that may help protect the delicate polyunsaturated fats in the brain, slow dementia progression, reduce the risk of stroke and prevent the growth of brain lesions.

Palm oil may increase certain heart disease risk factors in some people. Repeatedly reheating the oil may decrease its antioxidant capacity and contribute to the development of heart disease, it may cause plaque deposits in the arteries. It’s important to note that these are only potential risk factors and not evidence that palm oil can actually cause heart disease.

Palm oil contains more saturated fats than canola oil, corn oil, linseed oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. Therefore, palm oil can withstand deep frying at higher temperatures and is resistant to oxidation compared to high-polyunsaturated vegetable oils. The oils are suitable for high-temperature sautéing or frying due to their high smoke point.

Like coconut oil, palm oil is semi-solid at room temperature. However, its melting point is 95°F (35°C), which is considerably higher than 76°F (24°C) for coconut oil. This is due to the different fatty acid compositions of the two oils.

Palm oil is an extremely versatile oil that has many different properties and functions which makes it so useful and so widely used. It is semi-solid at room temperature so can keep spreads spreadable; it is resistant to oxidation and so can give products a longer shelf-life; it’s stable at high temperatures and so helps to give fried products a crispy and crunchy texture; it’s also odourless and colourless so doesn’t alter the look or smell of food products. In Asian and African countries, palm oil is used widely as cooking oil, just like we might use sunflower or olive oil here. Its taste is considered savoury and earthy. Some people describe its flavour as being similar to carrot or pumpkin.

Palm oil is sometimes added to peanut butter and other nut butter as a stabilizer to prevent the oil from separating and settling at the top of the jar. In addition to nut butter, palm oil can be found in several other foods, including Cereals, Baked goods like bread, cookies and muffins, Protein bars and diet bars, Chocolate, Coffee creamers and Margarine

In the 1980s, palm oil was replaced with trans fats in many products due to concerns that consuming tropical oils might jeopardize heart health.

However, after studies revealed the health risks of trans fats, food manufacturers resumed using palm oil. The oil now is often found in products such as bread, ice cream, and other processed foods, as it is trans-fat free, as well as some cosmetics such as makeup and soap.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding palm oil because many palm oil plantations have contributed to the decimation of the rainforest. There are several ethical issues regarding palm oil production’s effects on the environment, wildlife and communities. Replacing tropical forests and peatland with palm oil trees is devastating the environment, wildlife and people’s quality of life. In order to accommodate oil palm plantations, tropical forests and peatland are being destroyed. Deforestation is anticipated to have devastating effects on global warming, as the forests play a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gasses by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. In addition, the destruction of native landscapes causes changes in the ecosystem that threaten the health and diversity of wildlife.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is an organization committed to making oil production as environmentally friendly, culturally sensitive and sustainable as possible. They only award RSPO certification to producers who adhere to their standards by following certain guidelines, including:

  • No clearing of forests or areas that contain endangered species, fragile ecosystems or areas critical to meeting basic or traditional community needs.
  • Significantly reduced the use of pesticides and fires.
  • Fair treatment of workers, according to local and international labour rights standards.
  • Informing and consulting with local communities before the development of new oil palm plantations on their land.

RSPO represents the largest, independent, third-party standard for more sustainable production of palm oil. Certified palm oil protects the environment and the local communities who depend on it for their livelihoods, so that palm oil can continue to play a key role in food security.

Despite the benefits, other oils are recommended for use in cooking such as olive oil.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to avoid using products with palm oil as its use is now so common across the world. To lessen the impact, looking for products that only contain sustainable palm oil is a good start. An extremely versatile ingredient that’s cheaper and more efficient to produce than other vegetable oils, palm oil is found today in half of all consumer goods. Palm oil is in nearly everything – it’s in close to 50% of the packaged products we find in grocery stores, everything from pizza, doughnuts and chocolate, to laundry detergent, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick. Palm oil is also found in biodiesel used to power cars (more than 50% of the European Union’s palm oil consumption in 2017 reportedly went to this purpose). It’s also used in animal feed and as a biofuel in many parts of the world (not in the UK though!).

You may never have walked into a grocery store with it written on your shopping list, but you’ve certainly walked out with bags full of it. We wash our hair with it, brush our teeth with it, smother our skin in it, and use it to powder our cheeks, plump our lashes, and colour our lips. We clean our houses with it, fuel our cars with it, and eat it in chocolate, bread, ice cream, pizza, breakfast cereal, and candy bars.

Made from: The fruit (not the seeds) of the palm tree which is native to Africa.

Best for: It is often used for sautéing, deep frying or in baking at very high temperatures because it has a high smoke point.

Not recommended for: since you can get similar health benefits from other oils and foods, it’s probably best to use other fat sources for most of your daily needs.

Pros: It’s got nutrients like vitamin E and the antioxidant beta-carotene—even more so if you buy the unrefined version, usually called Red Palm Fruit Oil. It’s also known for its long shelf life.

Cons: It’s got a higher percentage of saturated fat than most other plant oils—still a red flag according to most nutrition experts.

Note: Palm oil is one of the most widely used oils in the world. However, the effects of its production on the environment, the health of wild animals and the lives of indigenous people are deeply concerning. If you want to use palm oil, purchase ethical, RSPO-certified brands.

Other uses: This oil is found in toothpaste, soap and cosmetics. In addition, it can be used to produce biodiesel fuel, which serves as an alternative energy source.

Smoke point: Difractionated 221-235°C (430-455°F)

39% MUFA

11% PUFA

50% saturated

go to top

Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

go to top

Different Types of Cooking Oils – Choose Wisely

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.

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Avocado oil

(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)

71% MUFA

13% PUFA

12% saturated

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Walnut oil

(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)

23% MUFA

63% PUFA

9% saturated

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Almond oil

(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)

69.9% MUFA

17.4% PUFA

6.2% saturated

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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)

80% MUFA

1.83% PUFA

16% saturated

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Read more:

Fast2eat all-inclusive guide with the best and worst cooking oils for your health:

Cooking Oils Recommended by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils – With Health Benefits – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

But it says “These foods contain healthy fats: nuts; seeds and avocado”.

Cooking Oil – That is not heart healthy (think twice) – Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide

Cooking Oils to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

Cooking Fats to Limit the amount according to Canada’s food guide recommendation

“Make a healthy choice – What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.”
Canada’s food guide .

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