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Best Oils to Cook With and Which to Avoid

Is olive oil or coconut oil better for you? Which oils are safe to cook with and which ones should you avoid? All of the information out there can be confusing. Even though an oil might be deemed healthy, it may not stay healthy when heated.

When you’re cooking at a high heat, you want to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidize or easily turn rancid. When oils undergo oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds that shouldn’t be consumed. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are rather resistant to heating, but oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats should be avoided when cooking.oil_and_pan

Best Oil Choices for Cooking:

Coconut Oil

This is one of the best choices for high heat cooking. It is made up of over 90% saturated fatty acids, making it very resistant to heat. This oil is semi-solid at room temperature and it can last for months and years without going rancid.

Coconut oil has powerful health benefits: It is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens. Also, the fats in coconut oil can boost metabolism and increase feelings of fullness as compared to other fats.

When buying, look for virgin coconut oil or raw on the label – they offer better flavor and more health benefits. Smoke point is 350°. Refined coconut oil can be used occasionally for recipes, which require heats over 450°, but make sure it isn’t hydrogenated or treated with hexane.

Clarified Butter (Ghee)

Grass-fed ghee is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. It is also rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) — the essential fatty acid found almost exclusively in grass-fed animals, which is now believed to protect against cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes.

Because the milk solids have been removed from ghee, the elements in dairy that many people are sensitive to, have been removed. The removal of the milk solids also allows you to use ghee at a higher temperature -up to 485° F.

Olive Oil

No surprise here, olive oil is a heart-healthy fat that that contains beneficial antioxidants and has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure to choose high quality extra virgin olive oil. It has many more nutrients and antioxidants than the refined oil olives and it tastes much better.

And contrary to many reports, high quality, extra virgin olive oil can be used for high heat cooking as it has a high smoke point (365°- 400°).

Note – there have been many reports lately about unsavory olive oil dealers who have been combining olive oils with cheap vegetable oils. As a result, you might be unknowingly ingesting unhealthy oils. It is very hard to determine if an olive oil is pure. Artisan or locally produced olive oils tend to be your safest bet. Olea olive oils are 100% pure olive oil. They can be found at oleaestates.com.

Avocodo Oil

Avocado is an excellent choice for frying as it has a very high smoke point (475°- 520°). The composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It is primarily monounsaturated, with some saturated and polyunsaturated mixed in. It can be used for many of the same purposes as olive oil. You can cook with it, or use it cold.

Oils to Avoid When Cooking:

Industrial Seed and Vegetable Oils:

These are highly processed, refined products that are much too rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. The world health organization’s (WHO) recommended ratio for omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is about 4:1. However, the average ratio American’s ingest ranges from 10:1 to 25:1! (Look out for a future blog post on Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s).

Based on this overconsumption of Omega 6’s, it is recommended to avoid the following oils altogether, whether cooking with them or simply using them cold.o-5-NEW-USES-FOR-VEGETABLE-OIL-facebook

  • Soybean Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Safflower Oil

Canola Oil

Canola Oil should be avoided as well due to its harsh processing method. To create canola oil, rape seeds (what canola oil is made from) are heated to high temperature so that the oil can be extracted. This oil is then refined, bleached and deodorized Processing the oil under high heat causes it to go rancid, which is why industrial carcinogenic bleaches and deodorizers like hexane are needed. Additionally, about 87% of canola oil is genetically modified.

Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil:

These are high in omega-3s, but should not be heated because they are sensitive to oxidation.

Nuts and Peanut Oil:

There are many nut oils available and many have amazing flavors, but due to their high level of polyunsaturated fats, it is recommended to avoid them when cooking.

There is one exception. Macadamia nut oil is mostly monounsaturated (like olive oil) and has great properties and is safe for cooking

Happy cooking 🙂

  • Elizabeth Girouard

    Great article Lisa! Thanks for the useful information.

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The Rise of the Egg

The egg’s fall from grace began over two decades ago and corresponded to the rise in concern over cholesterol levels.  A single large egg contains 185 grams of cholesterol and the American Heart Association only recommends 300 mg of cholesterol per day – so 2 eggs puts you over their recommendation. However, these simple numbers don’t paint the whole picture because studies have shown that the cholesterol you eat, has very little impact on the amount of cholesterol in your blood.  Why?

First:  There are two types of cholesterol: dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.  Both are important.  Dietary cholesterol is found in certain foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and diary products. The second type (blood cholesterol, also called serum cholesterol) is produced in the liver and floats around in our bloodstream. Blood cholesterol is divided into two sub-categories: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). LDL cholesterol is considered bad because it sticks to artery walls.


Many scientists are now discovering that consuming food rich in dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol, but instead foods high in saturated fats may be to blame. Again – back to eggs.  They contain primarily unsaturated fat.

Second:  Cholesterol happens to be one of the most important nutrients in your body.  It is a fat like substance found in every living cell in the body.  It’s a requirement for growth (in infants and adults). And it’s required for the production of many hormones.

Results: Researchers have looked at the diets of hundreds of thousands of people and they have found that consuming eggs every day is not associated with cholesterol problems or heart disease.  In controlled trials — the best kind of research — people were instructed to eat up to three eggs per day while on a weight loss diet.  These people lost weight, had decreased inflammation and either maintained or improved their blood cholesterol levels.

So the end result is, unless you have diabetes or a rare genetic disorder, eating eggs is not only not bad for you, but good for you.

What’s in an egg.

  • One large egg has 6 grams of high-quality protein which means it is highly digestible and may provide better satiety (keeping you fuller for longer), which helps weight management.
  • Eggs are a complete protein which means they contain all the essential amino acids
  • Eggs “biological value” — a measurement used to determine how efficiently a protein is used for growth — is 93.7. Milk, fish, beef, and rice respectively have a bio value of 84.5, 76, 74.3, and 64.
  • Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Eggs contain over 11 essential vitamins and minerals
  • Egg yolk is one of a few foods that contain Vitamin D
  • One egg contains between 66 an 84 calories depending on the size
  • Eggs also contain biotin (a B-vitamin), calcium, cephalin and lecithin (both help brain function)
  • Each egg has 5 grams of fat of which about 3 grams are from healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

Buying Eggs.  As you may have noticed, there are a dizzying number of choices when buying eggs.  Use the chart below to help you understand the differences..















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