The Top 5 Cooking Oils and How to Use Them

We all need fats and oils. They not only help us to build healthy cells, but they also improve skin quality, energy, immune function, and vitamin absorption. But there is a caveat: Eating oils beyond the temperature where they start to smoke can generate toxic fumes and free radicals, so it’s important to know which ones to use and when. Here is a guide to the best-of-the-best, and exactly when to invoke their superpowers.

Flax Oil
Best used as a finishing oil.

Flax is high in omega fatty acids; it’s ideal for vegetarians and vegans, who aren’t getting these as easily from other parts of their diet. Its heating point is low, however, so it’s best used raw, such as in salad dressings or smoothies.

Olive Oil
Good for medium-low heat; save the best quality to finish dishes.

Packed with monounsaturated fats that can lower cholesterol, olive oil has a relatively low burning temperature. This means you shouldn’t use it to fry food or cook on high heat. It’s extremely variable in quality, so look for cold-pressed (processed with minimal heat), extra virgin, and unrefined. Avoid pure olive oil, light olive oil, and anything in large, clear containers.

Coconut Oil
A healthy choice for high heat.

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral.

Due to its high saturated fat content, it doesn’t oxidize as easily as other oils, so it can withstand high heat. It’s especially good for frying, stir-frying, and baking, and it makes a great butter substitute for vegan cooking.

Grapeseed Oil
Versatile and good for high heat.

Grapeseed oil’s almost flavorless taste makes it a good choice for everyday cooking; try substituting it for any vegetable oil.

Sesame Oil
Temperature-wise, right at the top with grapeseed oil. A great way to add a flavor kick.

Sesame oil’s deep and nutty flavor is perfect for stir-fries, fish, and vegetables. Because it’s made from sesame seeds, it is a good source of B vitamins and iron. Try it on baked kale chips, for some extra flavor power.

Inspired to incorporate healthy fats into your diet? We love this pesto recipe, done the ALOHA way.