Cooking with Oils

Oils that are healthy at room temperature can become unhealthy when heated above certain temperatures. When choosing a cooking oil, it is important to match the oil's heat tolerance with the cooking method.

A 2001 parallel review of 20-year dietary fat studies in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Spain found that polyunsaturated oils like soya, canola, sunflower, and corn oil degrade easily to toxic compounds when heated. Prolonged consumption of burnt oils led to atherosclerosis, inflammatory joint disease and development of birth defects. The scientists also questioned global health authorities' recommendation that large amounts of polyunsaturated fats be incorporated into the human diet without accompanying measures to ensure the protection of these fatty acids against heat- and oxidative-degradation.


Smoke Point

An oil's smoke point indicates how high a heat the oil can tolerate before it begins to smoke. When an oil smokes, it is oxidised and becomes harmful, releasing carcinogens and free radicals within the oil. For the best health, discard any oil that has gone beyond its smoke point.


Oils for All-Purpose Cooking

Oils with a high smoke point are ideal for high heat cooking - sautéing and frying:

• Avocado oil
• Butter or ghee


Oils for low to medium heat cooking 

Oils with a medium smoke point are ideal for lower heat cooking - light sautéing and baking:

 Coconut oil
• Sesame oil
• Macadamia oil


Oils for no heat cooking

Oils with a low smoke point should not be heated, they are ideal for pouring directly on to food, salad dressings or taking directly:

• Extra virgin olive oil
• Walnut oil
• Flaxseed oil
• Hemp seed oil


Oils to avoid

These oils are highly processed, hydrogenated, GMO, pro-inflammatory and/or have serious health concerns, they should be avoided:

• Canola oil
• Soybean oil
• Palm oil
• Margarine
• Vegetable oil
• Sunflower oil
• Corn oil
• Rice bran oil

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