Healthy Cooking Oils

Based on their fat content and smoke point, you can select the best and healthiest cooking oil for heart and general health. Know the details on heart healthy olive oil and its health benefits.

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  1. Fatty acids in oil help absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E & K.
  2. Promote digestion, sense of fullness.
  3. Oil helps in growth, hormone balance, body organ development and retina functioning.
  4. Oils help smooth functioning of central nervous system and brain development.
  5. Oils act as antioxidants.
  6. Oils insulate the body against loss of heat.

Which is the best cooking oil for reducing cholesterol, weight loss and health? Cholesterol in oils

  1. Fat is a high calorie food. There are 9 calories in each gram of fat.
  2. Fat contains more than twice the number of calories in protein or carbohydrates.
  3. From a weight loss viewpoint, all fats are equally 'bad' (same calorie-content). All vegetable oils contain 100% fat. Each tablespoon of vegetable oil contains 14 grams of fat and 125 calories.
  4. Choose cold-pressed unrefined vegetable oils such as sesame, sunflower or safflower for salad dressing.
  5. Avoid heating oils to high temperatures, beyond their smoking point.
  6. Do not use once used oil for frying again and again as it becomes carcinogenic. Never add fresh oil to the fried oil. The left over oil can be used in other preparations but should not be reused for frying.
  7. Minimize use of oils rich in saturated fats.
  8. Avoid hydrogenated oils or trans-fatty acids. Use unhydrogenated margarines.
  9. Avoid coconut and palm oil.
  10. It is best to reduce your intake of high-fat, calorie-dense foods like butter (80 per cent fat), mayonnaise (75-80 per cent fat) and coconut oil (100 per cent fat)
  11. For better health, choose oils/fats that are low in saturated fat.
  12. Store oil in an airtight container at a dark place away from light.
  13. Use Extra-virgin olive oil which is best olive oil for cooking.

Healthy Cooking Oil Chart

For better health, choose good and healthy oils that arelow in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat. The following chart compares different oils, their smoke point and saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat content. The following table lists various oils in decreasing order of monounsaturated fat content.

Cooking Oil or Cooking FatSmoke
% Fat
Polyunsaturated Monounsaturated
Olive Oil420F / 216C141274
Almond Oil420F / 216C81973
Canola Oil475F /246C73558
Margarine, whipped203050
Peanut Oil450F / 232C183349
Rice Bran Oil490F/254C203347
Margarine, stick203347
Margarine, tub173746
Sesame Oil350F / 177°154342
Palm Oil521038
Cocoa Butter62335
Butter350F / 177C66430
Wheatgerm Oil205030
Butter, whipped69328
Margarine, Flora Pro-activ254926
Corn Oil320F /160C135924
Soybean oil320° F / 160C156124
Sunflower Oil 450F / 232C116920
Walnut Oil 400F / 204C146719
Grape seed420F / 216C97714
Safflower Oil450F /232C97813
Coconut Oil350F / 177C9226

Based on the above, the following may be recommended with regard to the healthiest cooking oil:

For deep frying foods, the good oils are: The best oils are those with a high smoke point such as canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil. The smoke point of unrefined oil is lower than the values mentioned in the above table.

For stir-frying and salad dressing the good oils are: any oil low in saturated fat like canola oil, corn oil, or flax seed oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and walnut oil.

Cooking Oils to avoid: coconut oil, palm oil, butter, hard margarine are considered bad oils.

There are conflicting reports about the health benefits or risks of coconut oil. The American Heart Association recommends avoiding the use of coconut oil for cooking as coconut oil contains 85 to 90 per cent saturated fat, which is generally regarded as the bad when it comes to heart disease. However, recent research suggests that fat in coconut oil is different and therefore it may be beneficial.

Benefits of Olive Oil

Types of Olive Oil

There are generally three types of olive oil, but each having the same number of calories as in other oils.

  1. Extra Virgin: This type of olive oil is the strongest in flavor and aroma. This oil is made from olives immediately after harvest and processed at room temperature. These oils are called cold pressed as they are produced by mechanically squeezing the oil under pressure.
    The flavour of extra virgin olive oil varies depending on the place where it has been grown and the type of olives.
  2. Extra Light: This type of olive oil is a refined oil that is light in colour, odour and taste.
  3. Olive Oil: This type of olive oil is mild in flavor and is a blend of refined oil and some virgin oil. This oil is mostly used around the world.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

The olive oil may be beneficial in preventing conditions related to coronary disease, stroke and certain types of cancers.

Storing of Virgin Olive Oil

A study by researcher Antonella Baiano of the University of Foggia in Italy and published in the Journal of Food Science, (March 2009) has revealed that after 3 months of storage, the antioxidant activity in the oil remained unchanged, but antioxidants decreased by about 40% after six months.
The study recommends consumers to store extra virgin olive oil in small glass bottles (one liter maximum because the oxygen contained in the headspace determines its oxidation), in a dark location, at a temperature lower than 20-250C (68-770F).

Misinformation on Canola Oil

Some of the information on the Internet says that canola oil causes many diseases like joint pain, gum disease, constipation, heart disease and hearing loss, whereas the truth is that canola oil contains essential fatty acids that our body cannot make on its own. The long chain unsaturated fat in canola oil has been proven beneficial to our health.

Canola oil is Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed (LEAR) oil which contains less than 1 percent erucic acid. It was developed in Canada during the late 1960s - 1970s using hybrid propagation techniques involving black mustard, leaf mustard, and turnip rapeseed plants.

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