Are you confused about which fats and oils to cook with?
We learned about the need for this part of our diet in The Truth About Fats & Oils. But, it’s crucial that we choose the right fats oils to cook with.
Below I have listed the five fats and oils I use in my kitchen after 35 years of research and hands on experimentation.
Each has amazing health benefits that don’t degrade during the cooking process.
1. Extra-virgin olive oil
- The best fat to use as a salad dressing.
- Also good to pour a little on top of cooked grains or vegetables once they are on your plate.
- Do not use for high-heat oven cooking. It has a low smoke point of 320°F and heat makes it susceptible to oxidative damage.
- Extra light olive oil (highly processed oil) has a high smoke point of 468°F.
Olive oil has so many health benefits I include a little every day when I eat my salad. Learn more about the Health Benefits of Olive Oil
2. Almond oil (refined)
- High smoke point of about 420°F .
- Great for sautéing, stir fries, baking and also good in desserts because of its natural almond flavor.
- For gourmet cooking, look for the more flavorful cold-pressed almond oil where it can be appreciated for its delicate, nutty flavor. It is best not to cook at high temperatures with it.
- Almonds themselves have many health benefits. It is one of the few alkaline protein sources.
What I like about it is that it has a light, clean flavor that does not alter the taste of the foods I am using it to cook with. Learn more about the Benefits and Use Of Almond Oil
Ghee is a purified form of clarified butter used as cooking oil throughout India. It has been purified of all moisture and solids so it can be used at higher temperature and is much more resistant to becoming rancid than clarified butter.
- ‘Highish’ smoke point between 410 – 485°F depending on the purity of the ghee.
- Great in soups, stews, curries, very light heat stir fries.
4. Coconut Oil Extra Virgin:
- Unrefined coconut oil (which you definitely want for health benefits) melts at 76°F and smokes at 350°F. It is is not good for very high temperature frying but good for lower temperature sautéing.
- Great in soups, stews, curries, and very light heat stir fries.
- Wonderful for baking cookies, cakes and pies and chocolate making.
- Simply add a spoonful on top of your porridge instead of butter, or on your potatoes or vegetables.
It is slow to oxidize so is resistant to rancidity. It will last up to two years due to its high saturated fat content. It is best stored in solid form below 76°F.
Make sure you buy organic unrefined coconut oil as many commercial coconut oils are refined, bleached, and deodorized containing chemicals. This is my favorite: Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil
5. Sesame Oil
- Sesame oil may be the oldest condiment on earth. It has a strong taste, so I often use it in oriental dishes.
- The smoke point ranges from 350 – 450°F
- Light sesame oil has a high smoke point and is suitable for deep-frying, while dark sesame oil often used in Asian cuisine (from roasted sesame seeds) has a lower smoke point and is unsuitable for deep-frying but good for light stir frying, or for making an omelet.
It is revered in the Ayurvedic tradition as having potent medicinal powers. Learn more: 17 Benefits of Sesame Oil.
The Highest Smoke Point Oil That I Do Not Use
- Very high smoke point of 500°F! It can withstand the heat, and is full of healthy fats.
- Great for sautéing, stir fries, frying, baking — and great in dressings too.
- It’s expensive.
The Lowest Smoke Point Oil to Never Cook With
Flax seed Oil
- Never cook with flax seed oil. It has a very low smoke point of 225°F.
- You can use a little in salad dressing.
How Much Oil To Use? Warning!
Oil is essential in our diet. I even use in in my specialized diets and detoxes.
That being said, oil is a fat and too much can make you fat. One tablespoon contains 120 fat calories. Therefore:
I include just enough to get the health benefits or the necessary cooking effect.
- I use the minimum I can in my healthy baking and even in my healthy chocolate.
- I lighten many of my salad dressings simply by adding water to the recipe.
About Diana Herrington
I am the Founder and Author at Real Food For Life. Have been teaching cooking classes worldwide since 1982. Create original, healthy recipes and menus, which are gluten free and white sugar free. Also, the author of the GREEN means LEAN and Balance Your Body e-books. I turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar free, gluten free eating and cooking.