How To Choose The Best Cooking Oil

There are a lot of options in the cooking oil section.  How do you know which one to buy? It depends on whether you are looking for a specific health benefit, or just trying to choose the one which is overall best for your health.

It also depends on what you plan to do with the oil.  The “smoke point” is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke.  For high heat uses, like firing up a wok to searing temperatures, you do not want to use an oil with a low smoke point. 

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the healthiest cooking oil in all respects, although its price and distinctive taste means that it is not best for all uses.  For example, you would not want to use olive oil to bake a cake. 

The smoke point of olive oil is 374 degrees F.  This is the lowest smoke point of any of the cooking oils, so be aware that olive oil is not a good choice for any cooking technique that requires a high temperature.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is your second best choice, next to olive oil.  It is high in monounsaturated fats, which are good for you.  It also contains a lot of omega 3 fatty acids, which is lacking in most American diets.  Canola oil is an excellent all-purpose oil. 

The smoke point of refined canola oil is 400 degrees F.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fats, like canola oil.  It also works better at high temperatures.  However, peanut oil can be deadly for those who have allergies.  If there is a chance that you may have a peanut-allergic guest in the kitchen, peanut oil is not the right choice for you.

The smoke point of peanut oil is 450 degrees F.

Safflower Oil

Safflower oil is high in vitamin E, which is good for you.  However, it is also high in polyunsaturated fat and in omega 6 fatty acids.  American diets tend to be too high in omega 6 fatty acids, so most people will want to reduce their intake of omega 6 and increase their intake of omega 3. 

The smoke point of refined safflower oil is 450 degrees F.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is as high in polyunsaturated fat as safflower oil.  However, it does not contain the beneficial vitamin E that safflower oil does.  It is also high in omega 6 fatty acids.  It’s probably best to pass over the sunflower oil.

The smoke point of sunflower oil is 440 degrees F.

Soybean Oil/”Vegetable” Oil

A lot of brand name oils are simply labeled “vegetable oil.”  Most of the time, in the United States, these are soybean oil.  Soybean oil is high in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E.  However, soybean oil is also high in polyunsaturated fats, which may increase your risk of cancer.

The smoke point of soybean oil is 495 degrees F, the highest temperature of any of the cooking oils.  This makes soybean oil your best choice for very hot cooking, such as the aforementioned superheated wok.

Corn Oil

Corn oil contains beneficial unsaturated fat.  However, even though the manufacturers of corn oil claim that it reduces your heart disease risk, they have not been able to provide solid scientific evidence to back this up.  So these claims should be treated with extreme skepticism.

The smoke point of corn oil is 450 degrees F.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a surprisingly controversial topic.  It is not often available at the supermarkets, but it can be found at health food stores, and ordered online.  The proponents of coconut oil believe that it helps prevent heart disease, and can support immune system health.  Detractors, including the FDA, note that it contains high levels of trans fats, which are very bad for you. 

The smoke point of coconut oil is 350 degrees F.

How To Choose Olive Oil

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Comments 4 comments

Dame Scribe profile image

Dame Scribe 7 years ago from Canada

I prefer using oil in baking and very little in frying if I fry anything. I'm really good at burning stuff, lol. Great info! :)

Blogging Erika profile image

Blogging Erika 7 years ago Author

Thanks! And I agree - I try to stick to the bare minimum when cooking. It's so delicious, but...!

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

Good info well put together. Looking forward to more of your work!

Azhar 4 years ago

Yes very good question has been asked by you in your above post. How to choose the best cooking oil brands.Even I am confuse which would be the best one.

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