The best healthy cooking oils – the-worst-choice

Cooking oils to be avoided or used sparingly – Not the healthiest choice

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Choosing the right cooking oil can be daunting, especially with many available options. Canada’s Food Guide recommends consuming healthy cooking oils in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, with conflicting information about which oils are truly healthy, it can be challenging to make an informed decision. This article will explore the best and worst cooking oils Canada’s Food Guide recommends. We will delve into each oil’s nutritional properties, benefits, and drawbacks to help you make an informed decision when selecting the best oil for cooking, baking, or frying. So, whether you are a health enthusiast or simply looking to incorporate more healthy oils into your diet, this guide has got you covered.

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This article is part of “Discover how to choose cooking oils wisely

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Canada’s food guide recommends those cooking oils.
However, they are not the healthiest choice.
They are generally recommended to be avoided or used sparingly due to their potential adverse effects on health.

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Soybean oil

Soybean oil is a commonly used vegetable oil extracted from the soybean plant’s seeds. It is a popular choice for cooking due to its high smoke point, neutral flavour, and affordability. Soybean oil is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and antioxidant compounds. It is also a source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids essential for maintaining good health. In addition to healthy polyunsaturated fats and the Vitamin E of other oils, soybean also packs vitamin K, which is important for bone health. Soybean oil is widely used in the food industry for various products, including salad dressings, margarine, mayonnaise, and baked goods. But be careful: this is often used in packaged goods with lots of trans fat (the worst kind). It is also used in the production of biodiesel. However, there are concerns about the health effects of consuming too much soybean oil, as it is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation in excessive quantities. 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.

soybean oil

 High in Polyunsaturated fats
20-30% MUFA
55-60% PUFA
15-20% saturated
Smoke point: 234°C (453°F)

There is a lot of controversy surrounding soy, especially regarding GMO (genetically modified organisms) sources.
This particular oil may be best kept off the shopping list unless you use a non-hydrogenated source clearly labelled as non-GMO.

What type of fatty acids are in Soybean oil?

Soybean oil predominantly comprises unsaturated fatty acids, including polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). The exact proportions of specific fatty acids can vary depending on factors such as the soybean variety and the oil processing method.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)

Soybean oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-6 fatty acids. It contains about 55-60% PUFAs.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)

Soybean oil also contains monounsaturated fatty acids. The percentage of MUFAs in soybean oil is approximately 20-30%.

Saturated fatty acids

Soybean oil contains approximately 15-20% saturated fatty acids.

Trans fatty acids

Trans fatty acids are usually not present in significant quantities in unprocessed soybean oil. However, during the hydrogenation process, which is used to solidify the oil, the formation of artificial trans fats can occur. Fully hydrogenated soybean oil can have a small percentage of trans fatty acids, typically less than 1%.

Smoke point

The smoke point of soybean oil is relatively high compared to many other oils, making it suitable for various cooking methods. The smoke point of soybean oil typically ranges from 227-257°C/440-495°F, depending on the refinement process and quality of the oil.

It’s worth mentioning that the specific composition of fatty acids in soybean oil can vary depending on factors such as the brand, processing method, and region of cultivation.
Therefore, if you require precise and detailed information for a specific product or use case, it’s advisable to refer to the nutritional information provided on the product’s packaging or consult the manufacturer.

What is Soybean oil made from?

 Soybean oil is extracted from the soybean plant’s seeds.

What is Soybean oil best for?

Soybean oil is versatile and can be used for various culinary applications. Here are some common uses:

Cooking and Frying

Soybean oil has a high smoke point, typically from 227-257°C/440-495°F. This makes it suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying, sautéing, and stir-frying.

Baking

Soybean oil can be used as a substitute for other oils or butter in baking recipes. Its neutral flavour doesn’t overpower the other ingredients and helps create moist and tender baked goods.

Salad Dressings and Marinades

Soybean oil’s mild taste and light texture make it an ideal base for salad dressings and marinades. It can be combined with herbs, spices, and acidic ingredients to create flavorful dressings or marinades for salads, vegetables, and meats.

Mayonnaise and Sauces

Soybean oil is commonly used as an ingredient in mayonnaise and other emulsified sauces due to its neutral flavour profile and creamy texture when combined with other ingredients.

Commercial Food Production

Soybean oil is extensively used to produce processed foods, such as snacks, baked goods, and confectionery. It helps enhance texture, extend shelf life, and provide a neutral flavour base for these food products.

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.

Remember to consider personal dietary preferences and any potential allergies or sensitivities when using soybean or any other cooking oil.

What is Soybean oil not recommended for?

While soybean oil is versatile and widely used, there are a few considerations to keep in mind and situations where it may not be recommended:

High-heat cooking with unrefined oil

Unrefined soybean oil can have a lower smoke point than its refined counterpart. It is generally recommended to use refined soybean oil for high-heat cooking methods like deep frying to avoid exceeding the smoke point and potentially releasing smoke and unpleasant flavours.

Individuals with soy allergies

Soybean oil is derived from soybeans, and while refining removes most of the protein, it may still contain trace amounts. Individuals with soy allergies should exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before using soybean oil.

Omega-6 fatty acid balance

Soybean oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, when consumed in excess, can potentially disturb the diet’s balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. A diet with an imbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio may contribute to inflammation. Maintaining a balanced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is important through other food sources like fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, or walnut oil.

Taste preferences

Soybean oil has a relatively neutral flavour. While this is desirable for some recipes, others may call for oils with distinct flavours, like olive or sesame oil. If a specific flavour profile is desired for a particular recipe, soybean oil may not be the best choice.

It’s always a good idea to consider individual dietary needs, preferences, and health conditions when selecting oils for cooking and consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist if you have any concerns or specific dietary requirements.

How to store Soybean oil?

To ensure the quality and freshness of soybean oil, it is important to store it properly. Here are some guidelines for storing soybean oil:

Keep it in a cool and dark place

Soybean oil should be stored in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Excessive heat and light can accelerate the degradation of the oil and may affect its quality. Choose a cabinet or pantry away from the stove or any other heat-emitting appliance.

Seal the bottle properly

Ensure that the bottle or container of soybean oil is tightly sealed to prevent exposure to air. Oxygen can contribute to oxidation and reduce the oil’s shelf life. Use the original bottle cap or transfer the oil to airtight glass containers.

Avoid refrigerating

Unlike other oils, such as olive oil, soybean oil does not need refrigeration. Refrigeration can lead to the oil becoming thick and clouded. It is best to store soybean oil at room temperature.

Protect from moisture and odours

Moisture can introduce condensation and potential spoilage to the oil. Keep the oil away from humid environments, such as the refrigerator or near the sink. Additionally, try to store soybean oil away from strong-smelling substances as it may absorb these odours.

Check the expiration date

Take note of the expiration date on the soybean oil bottle or packaging. Use the oil before the expiration date for optimal flavour and quality.

Remember to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations on proper storage for the specific brand of soybean oil you are using, as they may provide additional guidelines.

What are Soybean oil pros and cons?

Like any other cooking oil, soybean oil comes with its own pros and cons. Here are some of the pros and cons of soybean oil:

Pros of Soybean oil

Versatility

Soybean oil is a versatile cooking oil used for various cooking methods, including frying, sautéing, baking, and salad dressings.

Mild flavour

Soybean oil has a neutral flavour, which makes it an excellent choice for recipes where you want the other ingredients to shine.

High Smoke Point

Soybean oil has a relatively high smoke point, typically from 227-257°C/440-495°F. It can tolerate high-heat cooking without breaking down and releasing smoke or off-flavours.

Good source of Vitamin E

Soybean oil contains vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radicals.

Affordable

Soybean oil is widely available and is often more affordable than other cooking oils.

Cons of Soybean oil

Omega-6 fatty acid balance

Soybean oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, if consumed excessively, can lead to an imbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio. An imbalanced ratio may contribute to inflammation and other health concerns. Maintaining a balanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is important.

Potential allergenicity

Soybean oil is derived from soybeans, and while refining removes most of the protein, it may still contain trace amounts. Individuals with soy allergies should exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before using soybean oil.

Processing methods

The quality of soybean oil can vary depending on the refinement process used. Highly processed oils may have undergone chemical treatments that some consumers may prefer to avoid.

Environmental concerns

The production of soybeans and soybean oil is associated with environmental concerns, such as deforestation, habitat destruction, and potential pesticide use. Choosing sustainably sourced soybean oil can help mitigate these concerns.

This oil is one of the worst. It’s almost always refined and 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.
It’s always a good idea to consider your individual dietary needs, preferences, and health conditions when choosing a cooking oil and consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist if you have any specific concerns.

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Vegetable oil (generic)

Often labelled as “vegetable oil,” this inexpensive oil is typically a blend of several different oils, such as soybeansunflowercanolasafflowercorncottonseed and palm oil, 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. The term “vegetable oil” refers 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. Some types of vegetable oil are high in omega-6 fatty acids, high in saturated fats and have few health benefits. It should be consumed in moderation. Still, vegetable oils are refined and processed, which means they lack flavour and nutrients. Vegetable oil is guaranteed to be highly processed. Again, these characteristics make it a versatile, all-purpose cooking oil. Vegetable oil is widely used in cooking, baking, and frying because of its neutral taste and high smoke point, which allows for high-temperature cooking without smoking or burning. Additionally, vegetable oil is often used in salad dressings, sauces, and marinades. It is important to choose high-quality vegetable oil that is cold-pressed and unrefined, as it will retain more of the vitamins and nutrients in the plant.

vegetable oil


While vegetable oil can be an umbrella term for all plant-based oils, as I mentioned earlier, it can also be used by companies (on ingredient labels) as a generic term for trans fats, which is terrible for you.
They 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.
It’s better to opt for specific oils rather than generic vegetable oil.

What type of fatty acids are in Vegetable oil?

Vegetable oil is a broad term that can refer to various oils derived from plants. The composition of fatty acids, smoke points, and other properties can vary depending on the specific type and brand of vegetable oil.
It is helpful to refer to the label or consult the manufacturer’s information for more precise details.

What is Vegetable oil made from?

The term “vegetable oil” refers to any oil that comes from plant sources. It is typically a blend of several different oils, such as soybeansunflowercanolasafflowercorncottonseed and palm oil, in varying proportions.

What is Vegetable oil best for?

Vegetable oil is a versatile cooking oil used for various purposes. Here are some common uses for vegetable oil:

Frying

Vegetable oil is widely used for frying due to its high smoke point. Its ability to withstand high temperatures makes it suitable for deep frying, pan frying, and stir-frying.

Baking

Vegetable oil can be used as a substitute for other fats like butter or shortening in baking recipes, such as cakes, cookies, muffins, and breads. It helps create moist and tender baked goods.

Sauteing and stir-frying

Vegetable oil’s neutral flavour and high smoke point make it a good choice for sautéing vegetables or stir-frying dishes. It allows the flavours of the ingredients to shine.

Marinades and grilling

Vegetable oil can be used as a binder in marinades to help distribute flavours and tenderize meat or vegetables before grilling or barbecuing.

Light sautéing and stir-frying

Vegetable oil’s neutral taste can be used for light sautéing of vegetables or stir-frying where a mild flavour is desired.

It’s important to consider the specific requirements of your dishes and personal dietary preferences when selecting vegetable oil.

What is Vegetable oil not recommended for?

While vegetable oil is versatile and commonly used for cooking, there are some considerations and situations where it may not be recommended:

High-heat cooking with unrefined oils

Unrefined vegetable oils may have lower smoke points and can break down at higher temperatures. It is generally recommended to use refined vegetable oils for high-heat cooking methods like deep frying to avoid exceeding the smoke point and potential release of smoke and off-flavours.

Recipes requiring specific flavours

Vegetable oil, particularly neutral-tasting ones like canola or sunflower oil, may not be the best choice for recipes with a specific flavour profile. Olive oilsesame oil, or other specialty oils might be more suitable for dishes that benefit from their unique flavours.

Individuals with allergies or sensitivities

Vegetable oils derived from certain plants, such as soybean or peanut oil, can be allergenic for individuals with specific allergies. Be mindful of known allergies or sensitivities, and choose alternative oils if necessary.

Omega-6 fatty acid balance

Many vegetable oils, including soybean and sunflower oil, are high in omega-6 fatty acids. An excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids can disrupt the balanced ratio and potentially contribute to inflammation. It is important to maintain a balance by incorporating other sources of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, such as fish, flaxseed, or walnuts.

Storage and shelf life

Depending on the type of vegetable oil, some may have a shorter shelf life than others. It’s important to adhere to proper storage guidelines and check the expiration dates to ensure the oil is still fresh.

Consider individual dietary needs, preferences, and health conditions when selecting oils for cooking and consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist if you have any specific concerns.

How to store Vegetable oil?

To ensure the freshness and quality of vegetable oil, it is essential to store it properly. Here are some guidelines for storing vegetable oil:

Keep it in a cool and dark place

Store vegetable oil in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources like the stove or oven. Excessive heat and light can accelerate the oxidation process and degrade the quality of the oil. Choose a cabinet or pantry that remains relatively cool throughout the day.

Seal the container properly

Ensure that the bottle or container of vegetable oil is tightly sealed to prevent exposure to air. Oxygen can contribute to oxidation and rancidity. Some oils come in dark-coloured bottles to help protect against light exposure.

Avoid refrigeration

Refrigeration is not necessary for most vegetable oils. Cold temperatures can cause the oil to solidify or become cloudy, affecting its texture and appearance. It is best to store vegetable oil at room temperature.

Protect from moisture and odours

Moisture can lead to the development of mould or spoilage in the oil. Keep the oil away from humid environments, such as the refrigerator or near the sink. Additionally, ensure the oil is stored away from strong-smelling substances, as it can absorb odours.

Check the expiration date

Vegetable oil can deteriorate over time, so always check the bottle’s or packaging’s expiration date. Use the oil before the expiration date for the best flavour and quality.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions

Different types of vegetable oils may have specific storage recommendations. Read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for any additional storage guidelines.

By following these storage tips, you can help maintain your vegetable oil’s quality and shelf life for an extended period.

What are Vegetable oil pros and cons?

Vegetable oil, a generic term encompassing several types of oils derived from plants, has its own pros and cons. Here are some considerations:

Pros of Vegetable oil

Versatility

Vegetable oil is a versatile cooking oil used for various cooking methods like frying, sautéing, baking, and salad dressings.

Neutral flavour

Many vegetable oils, such as canola or sunflower, have a neutral taste, allowing the flavours of other ingredients to shine through in dishes.

High Smoke Point

Vegetable oils generally have high smoke points, which can withstand high temperatures without breaking down or producing smoke. This makes them suitable for high-heat cooking methods like deep frying.

Affordable

Vegetable oils are commonly available and tend to be more affordable compared to other oils, such as olive oil or avocado oil.

Cons of Vegetable oil

Omega-6 fatty acid imbalance

Many vegetable oils, especially those high in omega-6 fatty acids like soybean or sunflower, can contribute to an imbalance in the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio. Excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3s may lead to inflammation and other health concerns.

Processing methods

Some vegetable oils undergo extensive refining processes involving high heat and chemical treatments. This can lead to the loss of natural nutrients and potentially introduce chemical residues.

Allergy concerns

Certain vegetable oils, such as soybean or peanut oil, can be allergenic for individuals with specific allergies. Knowing about any known allergies is important, and selecting alternative oils as needed.

Environmental impact

The production of vegetable oils can have environmental implications, such as deforestation, habitat destruction, and pesticide use. Choosing sustainably sourced vegetable oils can help reduce these concerns.

Remember that the specific pros and cons may vary depending on the type and brand of vegetable oil.
When selecting oils for your diet, it is advisable to consider your individual health needs, cooking preferences, and sustainability priorities.
Consulting with a healthcare professional or nutritionist can provide personalized guidance.

Cooking oils to be avoided or limit the amount

According to Canada's food guide:

Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide:

Cooking fats to be avoided or limit the amount according to Canada's food guide
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This article is part of “Discover how to choose cooking oils wisely

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