Oils for your Health

Which oil is right for you? That depends largely on the type of cooking you’re doing. An oil’s smoke point, which is the point when oil starts burning and smoking, is one of the most important things to consider. If you heat an oil past its smoke point, it not only harms the flavor, but many of the nutrients in the oil degrade—and the oil will release harmful compounds called free radicals.
If you’re wondering which is the best cooking oil for your health—and which oils are not healthy—there’s some disagreement. TIME spoke to two cooking oil experts—Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Lisa Howard, author of The Big Book of Healthy Cooking Oils—about how to choose the best option.

  1. Olive oil

    • Use only extra virgin (not refined, and therefore of high quality containing a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids)

    • Relatively low smoke point, so only use for low and medium-heat cooking

    • Also use for baking and as a dressing

    • Be aware that many “extra virgin” labeled olive oils may not be. Use one of the following: California Olive Ranch “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, Colavita “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, Lucini “Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, Trader Joe’s “ Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil”, Trader Joe’s “100% Italian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil”

  2. Coconut oil

    • High in saturated fat, which has resulted in conflicting recommendation for health

    • High smoke point, so use when cooking at a very high temperature or frying food

  3. Vegetable oil

    • Most vegetable oils on the market are a blend of canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm and sunflower oils

    • Refined and processed, past their heat tolerance and become rancid in the processing

    • Lack of flavor and nutrients

    • Associated with more degradation of land for production

  4. Canola oil

    • Derived from rapeseed

    • Contains a decent amount of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats

    • High smoke point, so use when cooking at a very high temperature or frying food

    • Refined and processed, unless “cold-pressed”

  5. Avocado oil

    • Unrefined

    • Higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil, so use when cooking at a high

    • Contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (it has one of the
      highest monounsaturated fat contents among cooking oils) as well as vitamin E

    • Expensive

  6. Sunflower oil

    • High in vitamin E

    • High smoke point

    • High in omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory (while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory)

  7. Peanut oil

    • Highest monounsaturated fat contents among cooking oils

    • Flavorful with a nutty taste and smell

    • High smoke point

  8. Walnut oil

    • Low smoke point

See the article in Time, Jul 23, 2018