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Choosing a Cooking Oil

Cooking tips for the caring cook.

Choosing a cooking Oil

Hm. Which Oil to Use?

Naturally, when choosing an oil to cook with you want an oil that will not be damaged by high cooking temperatures. Of all the available oils, coconut oil is the oil of choice if you are watching fat intake for cooking because it is nearly a completely saturated fat, which means it is much less susceptible to damage when it is heated.

  • Butter, margarine, and olive oil are not good choices for deep frying or cooking that involves high heat because of their low smoking points. The smoking point is exactly what it sounds like: the temperature at which they begin to release puffs of smoke.
  • Cooking time is important when using oil. The longer you heat an oil, the more it begins to oxidize and produce artery-irritating lipids. For this reason, it's advisable not to reuse cooking oils, even though they may appear to be clean and clear.
  • Refrigeration is recommended to effectively retard the oxidation and extend the life of an opened bottle of oil. Polyunsaturates are the most vulnerable to spoilage which leads to rancidity. The monosaturates are more stable, and saturates are the most stable (this is why many cookies, candies and snack foods plus other products with an increased shelf-life foods often contain highly saturated fats).
  • Use any oil wisely - don't overuse them. Try to roast, bake or broil foods instead. If you must fry, saute with only a drizzle of oil.

Saturated fats are the most common fats in our diets. They include tropical oils such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel, as well as other hard fats like those found in marbelized meat, whole milk, butter, solid shortening - even peanut butter! Oils that contain less than 1/3 saturated fat are called unsaturates, and they are further labeled poly or mono.

Polyunsaturates are found in vegetable oils, which are usually liquid at room temperature, as well as in nuts. Among these oils are safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean oils, which contain the highest amount of polyunsaturated fats. These fats can help reduce high blood cholesterol levels when part of a healthful diet.

Monounsaturates are also liquid at room temperature and are found in vegetable oils such as olive, avocado, peanut and rapeseed (canola) oils. These are recommended for daily use because they lower the low-density, heart damaging lipoproteins (LDLs) while preserving the high-density lipoproteins (HDLs).

General guidelines on using different oils for different cooking needs:

  • In your baked goods: Coconut, palm, canola and high oleic safflower and sunflower oil work best.
  • For your fried foods: Avocado, peanut, palm and sesame oil are ideal for frying because they stand up so well to the high heat of frying.
  • Sauteeing: Avocado, canola, coconut, grapeseed, olive, sesame and high oleic safflower and sunflower oils.
  • Dips, dressings and marinades: For your dressings and marinades, or finding oil that's perfect to serve alongside crusty bread for dipping, you want terrific flavor. Look to flax, olive, peanut, toasted sesame or walnut oils.


The temperature at which the oil begins to smoke is called the "smoke point". Heating oils beyond their smoke point generates toxic fumes and harmful free radicals.

Storing Cooking Oil

Store cooking oil in a clean and very well rinsed dish detergent bottle. The squirt top makes pouring easier and best of all there is no dripping!!

Coconut Oil for Weight Watchers

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