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Which Oils To Cook With?

Cooking with oil brings flavor to food along with fat to keep us feeling full longer and act as precursors to hormones. The type of oil used to sauté vegetables or meats matters since oils have different smoke points.

Smoke point is the temperature at which oil turns to smoke. Each oil has a different smoke point but, generally, a high smoke point means the oil can be heated to 400+ degrees F without turning to smoke and a low smoke point means the oil turns to smoke when heated roughly above 225 degrees F. Most stovetop cooking occurs between 350-500 degrees F.

Why does it matter?

Heating oils past their smoke points creates free radicals and reactive oxidative species. These cause oxidative stress and damage the body’s cells and molecules. The body has to use precious antioxidants to scavenge and clear the free radicals. Eating free radicals daily can, over time, cause damage to the small intestine, colon, and liver. Also, heating oils until they smoke releases pollutants in the air, which we then breathe in as we cook.

Take home:

  1. Pick a fat that is minimally processed. Choose: cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, extra virgin, or virgin.
  2. Identify a fat with a smoke point appropriate for your cooking method.
  3. If you are using temperatures that are high enough to create smoke, turn down the heat.

Avoid Heating these Oils (since they have a low smoke point):

  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Butter
  • Use as a drizzle on already cooked food or very lightly heat

Oils Safe to Heat (have high smoke point):

  • Avocado oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Refined coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sesame oil

*Try to buy all your oils as organic since pesticides are concentrated in fat matter.

P.S. Don’t like the flavor or scent of coconut? Buy expeller-pressed refined coconut oil for a neutral flavor.


Adeniran JA, Yusuf RO, Abdulkadir MO, Yusuf MO, Abdulraheem KA, Adeoye BK, Sonibare JA, Du M. Evaporation rates and pollutants emission from heated cooking oils and influencing factors. Environ Pollut. 2020 Nov;266(Pt 2):115169. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115169. Epub 2020 Jul 7. PMID: 32663729.

Perumalla Venkata R, Subramanyam R. Evaluation of the deleterious health effects of consumption of repeatedly heated vegetable oil. Toxicol Rep. 2016 Aug 16;3:636-643. doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2016.08.003. PMID: 28959587; PMCID: PMC5616019.

This is general information and not medical advice. Give the office a call at #530-848-6364 to discuss how we can assist you in feeling better.