Cooking oils – uses, temperatures…

Cooking oils….. what are there benefits? Which are best to use and for what? And what about their smoke points?

I thought i would do a little infographic and share some information about different oils and their nutritional benefits. There are of course lots of oils out there, some better than others. But i chose to focus on 7 oils in this post, and can of course do a second post with other oils if that would be of an interest to you.

Let’s start off with, you do not need to use or consume oil, some people prefer to get their fats from the actual food i.e olives, avocado, flax seeds, peanuts and not from the oil. However oil can help with flavour as well as helping make food crispy when cooking, which many like. Now a days an airfryer is very trendy because you can get food rather crispy without using oil. Oil can also help with the uptake of the fat soluble vitamins in your food – however you can also choose to just eat some other form of fat with your meals to help with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins in your meal.

Now lets talk smoke point…

“Smoke point” is the temperature at which oil starts to break down. Oils with high smoke points (such as vegetable, peanut and sesame) are good for frying or high-heat stir-frying, while oils with low smoke points (flaxseed or walnut) work well in salad dressings and dips.

The oils with alot of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS) are more prone to oxidation (as their chemical bonds are more unstable) due to high heat (but even sunlight and air can lead to oxidation), and that can be harmful if you consume. So fats that have alot of saturated fat (example butter, margarine and coconut oil) are alot more stable and usually used in high temperature cooking.

Not only does the oxidation of the oil cause negative health consequences if consumed, it also ruins the nutritional value of the oils and can give the oil a bitter and rancid taste. Some oils – those with alot of polyunsaturated fat – are best stored in the fridge as heat and light can make them go rancid.

If cooking in high heat using saturated fats is best. However from a nutritional perspective it is best to consume oils with alot of monounsaturated fat (as that is linked with decreasing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol which is important for heart health and reducing risk of cardiovascular diseas) Oils such as olive, avocado and sunflower.

Note, many vegetable oils contain alot of omega 6 which has inflammatory effects (if consumed in high amounts) so good to limit the intake of many vegetable oils (primarily canola oil, soybean oil and peanut oil). However, it is better to consume oils high in polyunsatrated fats than fats (such as butter and margarine) with alot of saturated fat.


Cooking oils infographic

If you have any questions or would like me to do more of these posts (or on different foods just comment below!)