Which Oil Should I Cook With?

All fats, including saturated fatty acids, have important roles in the body. However, the most important fats are those that the body cannot make and thus must come from the food we eat.

These essential fatty acids (EFAs) are based on linoleic acid (omega-6 group) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 group).

Throughout evolution, humans obtained omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the diet in certain ratios believed to be about 1:1. This ratio has shifted to around 20:1 thanks to the standard American diet.

We should focus on reducing our intake of oils such as corn, soy, sunflower, vegetable, grapeseed, cottonseed, canola (aka rape seed), and safflower. These not only tend to be refined, but too many of them can lead to inflammation in the body. Include more omega-3 rich fats such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, in addition to chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts.

Scientists have hypothesized that eating too much omega-6 fats can lead to increased inflammation in the body and potentially contribute to disease.

Another concern is the QUALITY of the fat we are eating. Many oils on the shelves are processed with harmful chemicals or are not true to the label.

A study found that as much as 82% of 22 avocado oil samples bought locally or online in the US either exhibited signs of being stale (15 samples) before the expiration date or apparently mixed with other oils. Two samples of extra virgin and one sample of refined avocado oil were nearly 100% soybean oil. Three other products seemed to be adulterated with sunflower or safflower oils. Only two brands produced samples that were pure and non oxidized.

Smoke point refers to the temperature at which an oil starts to burn and smoke. When you cook with oil that’s been heated past its smoke point, phytochemicals found in many unrefined oils are destroyed when the oil is overheated. Overheating also creates harmful free radicals.

Safflower Oil                                   510°F/265°C

Rice Bran Oil                                  490°F/260°C

Light/Refined Olive Oil                   465°F/240°C

Soybean Oil                                   450°F/230°C

Peanut Oil                                       450°F/230°C

Clarified Butter                                450°F/230°C

Corn Oil                                           450°F/230°C

Sunflower Oil                                  440°F/225°C

Vegetable Oil                                  400-450°F/205-230°C

Beef Tallow                                     400°F/205°C

Canola Oil                                       400°F/205°C

Grapeseed Oil                                 390°F/195°C

Avocado Oil (Virgin)                        375-400°F/190-205°C

Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)                  375°F/190°C

Duck Fat                                         375°F/190°C

Vegetable Shortening                     360°F/180°C

Sesame Oil                                     350-410°F/175-210°C

Butter                                              350°F/175°C

Coconut Oil                                    350°F/175°C

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil                     325-375°F/165-190°C

For cooking at high temperatures, I recommend using avocado oil either Chosen Foods or Mariannes. (This post is not sponsored, maybe one day someone will pay me to do this 😉

For lower temperature or dressings, I recommend California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin. It was the least oxidized oil reviewed meaning it has the lowest peroxide value and I like that it’s in a dark glass bottle.

How to buy and store your fat sources:

  • Keep oil in a dark cool place and preferably purchase one in a dark colored small bottle.
  • Choose an oil that is within 15 months of its harvest date, not to be confused by Best By date.
  • Keep the heat as low as possible when cooking with oils with a lower smoke point to minimize the amount of polyphenols and other components that are lost to heat.
  • Buy nuts and seeds raw and then roast them yourselves (these fats can go rancid the same way that oils can)

In episode 11 of my podcast I discuss this topic in more detail.

Published On: September 4, 2020Categories: Food

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