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.
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 fat||Type 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
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 point||Best use||Example|
||Salad dressing, drizzling
||Coconut oil, virgin and extra virgin olive oil
||Sauté, salad dressing
||Olive oil, grapeseed oil, refined walnut oil
||Sauté, roast, baking, stir fry, deep fry
||Canola oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, refined avocado oil
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!