If you’ve ever turned the heat up too high or forgotten about something on the stove, chances are you’ve seen smoke coming from the skillet. The ‘smoke point’ of an oil refers to the temperature at which it begins to break down, lose nutrients, & develop an off flavor. When you overheat oils beyond their smoke point, free radicals & other harmful compounds can form. So not only is it helpful to know the health benefits of the oils you’re using, but also what types are best for cooking!
- Olive Oil: High in monounsaturated fat and antioxidant compounds. Overall it has a relatively low smoke point, so it’s not ideal for cooking at high-temps. Extra virgin olive oil is best used for dressings or low-heat cooking. “Light” (refined) olive oil can tolerate higher temps than extra virgin, making it a better option for roasting, or stir-frying.
- Avocado Oil: High in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Has a high smoke point so it makes a great option when cooking at higher temps such as stir-frying, grilling, searing, or roasting.
- Coconut Oil: While high in saturated fat, coconut oil contains MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) and can also be used when cooking at higher temps.
- Clarified Butter (Ghee): Like coconut oil, ghee is high in saturated fat. It also contains butyrate and small amounts of fat-soluble vitamins. It has a higher smoke point than both butter and coconut oil.
- Do I recommend adding coconut oil or ghee to your coffee for some bulletproof nonsense? Absolutely. Not. BUT roasting your veggies with a tablespoon will not only make them more flavorful, but could also help aid in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
- Oils to avoid/keep to a minimum: Corn oil, soybean (and/or vegetable) oil - these are highly refined oils and are very high in the fat the Western diet tends to consume way too much of (polyunsaturated omega-6s) and low in what we really need more of (omega-3s). These oils are often used in fast food chains for deep-fat frying and in processed packaged snack foods.
- Over time, heat and light can impact the taste and quality of oils. So make sure to store in a cool, dark place. Nut & seed oils (such as flaxseed or walnut) are more susceptible to oxidation and should be stored in your fridge.
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