Cooking Oils – Which Are Best for You?

by Nutrition

Cooking Oils: Which Are Best for You?

There’s a ton of information out there on cooking oils regarding what is healthy and what isn’t for a variety of reasons. Arguments on both sides of this long-standing debate have valid points to be considered as you choose which oils are healthiest for your family. Below is a collection of factors to consider as you pick the best options for you and your family.

Firstly, it’s important to choose refined or unrefined oil. Refining is a process that uses chemical or physical methods to remove undesirable qualities from the oil. Refining includes removing impurities or components that are detrimental to shelf life, clarity, color, taste, etc. Most oils on the market are generally regarded as needing to be refined. A main disadvantage of refining is the loss of vitamins and other nutrients. Unrefined oils are extracted and then filtered. This removes impurities but helps protect the nutritional value of the oils. However, the resulting oil isn’t as shelf stable and generally has a more potent taste similar to the plant it came from. Look for foods labeled as cold-pressed at your local grocery store or health food store for unrefined options.

Secondly, perhaps one of the most important things to consider is the smoke point. Some oils handle higher heat better than others. For example, unrefined almond or flaxseed oils are regarded as no-heat oils as their smoke point is 225 degrees Fahrenheit. These are best used as salad dressings. In contrast, canola oil can tolerate 400-475 degrees Fahrenheit and is more appropriate for sautéing or frying. Unrefined avocado oil has a smoke point of around 400 degrees Fahrenheit while refined avocado oil has a smoke point of 480-520 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind what you are cooking and what flavors you are working with. For instance, you wouldn’t use bacon grease for a stir fry unless you wanted the entire meal to taste like bacon. Below is a chart of oils sourced from Mountain Rose Herbs to consider.

High Heat: Cooking Oils for Frying, Stir-Frying, and Broiling

  • Avocado oil (refined) 480-520 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Safflower oil 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Canola oil 400-475 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soybean oil 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Sunflower oil (refined) 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Peanut oil (refined) 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Coconut oil (refined) 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium Heat: Cooking Oils for Baking and Sauteing

  • Hazelnut oil 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grapeseed oil 390-420 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Sesame oil (refined) 410 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Macadamia oil 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Extra virgin olive oil (unrefined) 325-400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Avocado oil (unrefined) 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vegetable oil 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Low Heat: Cooking Oils for Gentle Sauteing

  • Unrefined coconut oil 350-380 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Sesame oil (unrefined) 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Sunflower oil (unrefined) 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Peanut oil (unrefined) 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Walnut oil (unrefined) 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Hempseed oil 300-330 degrees Fahrenheit

No Heat: Finishing and Salad Oils

  • Almond oil (unrefined) 225 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flaxseed oil (unrefined) 225 degrees Fahrenheit


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