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Published on May 10, 2017

3 things to consider when cooking with oil

A guide to nutrition, temperature and flavor

When you are choosing a cooking oil, there are a few things you should consider: the quality of the fats, the smoke point and the flavor.

Fat quality

Not all fats are created equal. Different types of fats have different effects on your blood cholesterol. In general, most Americans should increase the amount of monounsaturated fats in their diet and decrease the amount of trans fats and saturated fats in their diet.

Type of fatType of oil
Oils high in monounsaturated fat Olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, high oleic sunflower oil, peanut oil
Oils high in polyunsaturated fats Soybean oil, walnut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil
Oils high in saturated fat Coconut oil, palm kernel oil
Oils high in trans fat Vegetable shortening

Temperature

Different oils have different smoke points—the temperature when smoke starts to come from the surface of the oil—which means the fat is breaking down and your food will have a burnt flavor. Choose the appropriate oil to avoid hitting the smoke point of the oil.

Smoke pointBest useExample
Low Salad dressing, drizzling Coconut oil, virgin and extra virgin olive oil
Medium Sauté, salad dressing Olive oil, grapeseed oil, refined walnut oil
High Sauté, roast, baking, stir fry, deep fry Canola oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, refined avocado oil

Flavor

This is where your personal preference may affect the oil you choose. Olive oils range from extra virgin to virgin to pure, and the flavor ranges from strong to mild accordingly. Grapeseed oil is very popular for fresh vegetable salads because it has a very mild flavor. Some people consider canola oil to have a mild flavor while others notice it right away. Everyone's preference is different, so I recommend choosing oils that meet your nutritional and cooking needs and tasting them to find your favorite!

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