get cooking with these 5 oils
posted: January 17, 2014
Can you tell the difference between cooking oils?
My nephew recently asked me: if olive oil is made from olives, what is baby oil made from? To which I answered, “Babies, or course.” (He gets my sense of humour, don’t worry.) For real though, I am often asked which oil of the many choices is the best to cook with?
This is an important question because if you heat certain oils too much they’re prone to oxidization and form carcinogens, free radicals and other unhealthy compounds.
When any oil begins to change colour or smoke, it’s past the point of oxidization return. Don’t even try to save it. Just toss it and start again. To avoid wastage (and having to start recipes over), here is a short list of oils from best to cook with (high smoke point) all the way to the ones I prefer to leave raw (low smoke point).
Fire it up! (high smoke point)
• Virgin Coconut Oil is in a league of its own. It is mega high in saturated fat, however in contradiction to the saturated fat found in animals, it can actually benefit cholesterol levels. Because saturated fat is such a stable fat, coconut oil can hang out safely at temperatures up to 235°C (455°F).
• Avocado Oil can really take the heat because avocados are super low in polyunsaturated fats, which can’t take the heat. It has a rockin’ smoke point of around 204°C (400°F). Plus in my opinion, it’s a pretty colour.
Simmer down (medium smoke point)
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not just for Italians, however it is just for medium-low heat. Though olive oil is a killer source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, it can’t hold its own past 200°C (392°F). Use this oil raw, drizzled over steamed vegetables or for low heat sautéing.
Keep it cool (low smoke point)
• Grape Seed Oil has recently been touted as the king of oils when it comes to cooking, so what I am about to say may ruffle some feathers. This oil is actually best kept raw. Here’s why: though it does top the charts with a smoke point of 216°C (420°F), this oil is also rich with polyunsaturated fatty acids. Since these fats are the most sensitive, this oil, in spite of its high smoke point, actually becomes an easy target for oxidization and free radical damage. I recommend using it sparingly and as raw oil as best practice.
• Flaxseed Oil is one of my very favourite for both its high powered punch of omega-3 fatty acids and it’s nutty, yummy flavour. Though it has a wimpy smoke point of under 110°C (230°F), and therefore is best used raw, on salads or in cold sauces.