Although there are a ton of oils you can choose from for cooking, not all the oils maintain their health-promoting effects.
In fact, if some oils get too HOT, the healthy fats contained in them can degrade, which could lead to NEGATIVE health effects.
However, before we get into the BEST oils for cooking, most oils come in THREE distinct categories depending on the type of fat that is found in them.
The different types of fat are:
Saturated fats – the molecules in this type of fat are bound tightly together, making this type of fat stable – even when exposed to high heats. These types of oils may be the BEST kind of oils for cooking.
Monounsaturated fats – these fats are not as tightly bound (compared to saturated fats) but still remain stable when exposed to heat. If you want to cook with this type of fat, then you should keep the heat on the low to medium side to retain all the potent health benefits.
Polyunsaturated fats – these fats are NOT as tightly bound, therefore they are very unstable when it comes to heat exposure. You should NOT use this type of oil for cooking.
So, what are the BEST oils for cooking? What are the WORST?
These oils are considered the BEST for cooking (and for your health):
Coconut oil – Yes, this oil is almost completely SATURATED fats, but, it’s a great kind of fat. Most of the fat in coconut oil is considered medium-chain triglycerides, which your body uses and seldom stores it. These fats have been shown to lower cholesterol and improve gut health. Plus, this oil can withstand high heats up to 450 degrees (depending on the type of oil you use – making it ideal for cooking and improving health.
Avocado Oil – this oil has been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease and is PERFECT for all sorts of cooking. This oil can withstand temperatures up to 510 degrees, making it ideal for sautéing, frying, or baking.
The BEST oils for cooking at LOW to MEDIUM heats:
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – everyone knows the benefits of olive oil on heart health and cholesterol due to the monounsaturated fat content. But, although very healthy, this oil can oxidize and degrade at higher temperatures. In order to maintain its tremendous health promoting benefits, it’s best to use this at low and medium heats.
Sesame Seed Oil – This oil has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol – both of which can lower your risk for heart disease. You should use this oil for low heat sautés, baking, or in stir fries.
Oils NOT Good For Cooking:
Grapeseed Oil – This oil is perfect for those who are looking to shrink their waistline. However, it is NOT one that would be recommended for cooking. Why? This oil is mainly comprised of polyunsaturated fats, which oxidize very easily, and can negatively impact your health.
Flaxseed Oil – Although chock full of omega-3 fatty acids (good for heart health), this oil is NOT recommended for cooking. It’s best to top off salads and side dishes with this oil instead of exposing it to ANY type of heat.
There are plenty of other oils that you should NOT consume if you want to maintain better health.
They would be:
• Corn oil
• Soybean oil
• Sunflower oil
• Canola oil
These oils may break down very quickly, making them very rancid.
Which Oil Do You COOK With?
Although there are different oils you can cook with, not all of them can stand up to the heat.
With this list in hand, you are now armed with the knowledge of choosing the BEST oil for both cooking AND improving your health.
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES