What Oils You Should And Shouldn't Be Using
You will often hear us say that oils are a great way to add healthy fat to your diet. You might be wondering what oils you should and shouldn’t be using. Understanding which oils to cook with and why can be stressful. You might look at them lined up on the store shelves and wonder how they really differ. In order to get the most benefit out of them, it is important to understand the oils that you’re cooking with. Oils contain fatty acids which are great healthy fats that your body can use for energy very easily. You will find that certain oils are great for drizzling, dressings and sautéing while others are great for roasting and broiling. Throughout this article, we will dig into what oils you should and shouldn’t be using and why. We will look at what benefits each oil has as well as which ones to use in different cooking methods.
Baking at low temperatures
Lower risk of heart disease, improve metabolic health, contains lauric acid
375 to 400 degrees
Reduce inflammation, antioxidants, vitamins K and E
Antioxidants, contains lutein, good for heart health
oils you should be using
Coconut Oil and Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil
Have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The many benefits to coconut oil are endless. A major benefit is its ability to raise the good high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. In doing so, it can lower risk of heart disease and improve metabolic health. Coconut oil can help your metabolism and aid in ketone conversion because it contains medium chain triglycerides (6 to 12 carbons). Much of what we eat falls into the long chain category. Medium chain triglycerides are easier for the body to break down and use so the energy becomes available much quicker. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that is known to kill bacteria and improve cholesterol. The smoke point for coconut oil is lower at just 350 degrees so you don’t want to roast or broil this oil at high temperatures. The oil loses most of its benefits once heated past the smoke point and can become toxic. Why does this occur? Simply put, the oils are known to oxidize at high temperatures. This oxidation causes oils to react with oxygen and create harmful substances.
Coconut oil is good to use in fat bombs, mug cakes, smoothies and baking at low temperatures. There are many other health benefits to consuming coconut oil including protecting skin and hair and improving dental health. It is an oil that can positively impact many aspects of your overall health.
has a lot of varieties on the market today. It is made by extracting the oil from the fruit of the olive tree. For the most part, we recommend that you use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) as it has a lot of antioxidants and nutrients. EVOO is less refined than other olive oils and therefore the best option in our opinion. You will find that it contains a substantial amount of vitamins K and E. These antioxidants are known to reduce inflammation, so it is a very powerful oil to use in cooking as the benefits to the body are endless. Some consider olive oil to be the healthiest oil out there. Studies show that it has antibacterial properties, protects against heart disease, and prevents strokes. This oil has an incredibly robust flavor, so it is great to use for drizzling over roasted vegetables or making dressings for salads.
Landing between 375 and 400 degrees, it has a slightly higher smoke point that coconut oil depending on which type of olive oil you use. Because of this, it is not the best choice for high temperature broiling and roasting either. Inflammation in the body can be caused by the toxicity of the broken down, cooked oils. For this reason, olive oil is a great choice for lower temperature cooking like light sautéing.Some examples to use avocado oil are drizzling it over roasted vegetables or over the top of a keto bowl, making pesto, cooking vegetables on the stovetop over medium heat, marinating salmon, and more!
has a very similar composition to olive oil. This oil is made by pressing the pulp from an avocado. It is a good source of antioxidants and healthy fats. Interestingly, avocado oil is high in lutein, an antioxidant that is good for eye health. It can also aid in heart health as it is also high in oleic acid. Lastly, avocado oil is known to help the body improve its nutrient absorption. One study showed that a salad made with carrots, romaine lettuce and spinach had an increased absorption of carotenoids when avocado oil was added. The biggest difference between this oil and the others is that it is a great choice for roasting and broiling. Of these three most recommended oils, avocado oil has the highest smoke point at 500 degrees. Remember that lower smoke points mean the oil is unstable cooking at high temperatures. In the case of avocado oil, the fatty acids in avocado oil are stable at high temperatures, unlike those found in coconut or olive oil. Because of this, avocado oil is the best choice for roasting and broiling meat, veggies, etc. You can fill a sheet pan with zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and toss with avocado oil and seasonings and then roast for a tasty side dish full of nutrition! You can use it to make a sauce to put on top of salmon (or other desired meat) before baking. There are so many ways to use avocado oil! Note that it does have a mild, nutty flavor but it is so delicious! It can also be used for marinating, drizzling, and dressings which makes it an incredibly versatile oil. You will not be disappointed when using avocado oil for cooking.
One reason that we love these three oils is that they are easy for the body to breakdown and use for energy. When comparing fats, particularly those found in these oils, to carbohydrates and protein, fat is a much more concentrated source of energy. Fat provides 9 calories per gram. Carbs and protein are just 4 calories per gram. A good note here is to remember that a little oil goes a long way and while you want to make sure you are getting plenty of healthy fats you should still be mindful of adding it to your food, so you don’t go overboard. A few other benefits to healthy fats: fat insulates the body, protects our vital organs, fat also helps the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. The fatty acids that end up in your body when oils are digested are moved into your bloodstream to reach your entire body and help with things such as cell repair, cell growth, and fighting infection. Consuming fat helps with brain health and mood. You can see from this information just how important healthy fats are to the functions in your body. Consuming the right oils can provide this nutrition to your body and cooking with them is so easy. They add so much flavor and can make your meals much more satisfying!
A few other oils that we use, but not quite as frequently, are sesame oil, grass-fed butter and clarified butter which is also known as ghee.
- Butter is a great option for adding fat to your diet. It has a low smoke point, closer to 350 degrees. You want to be careful with temperature when cooking with it. It is easy to burn butter just cooking on the stovetop if the temperature is too high! We recommend low to medium heat when cooking with butter. Some benefits of butter are it’s rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K2, it has a lot of healthy saturated fats, and it’s a good source of the fatty acid butyrate.
- Ghee is made when the water and milk solids are boiled and removed making it more concentrated in fat. Ghee is a good alternative when cooking with higher temperatures as it does have a higher smoke point than butter. The smoke point of ghee is closer to that of avocado oil at 385 degrees. Ghee is considered lactose free as the milk has been removed so it is a great choice for those with dairy allergies!
- Sesame oil is incredibly flavorful and contains antioxidants. It comes from sesame seeds, where the oil is pressed out of the tiny seeds. It also has a smoke point of about only 350 degrees, so it is a good choice for dressing or drizzling. Most people are probably most familiar with its use in Asian foods, as it is used a lot for stir-frying and sautéing. Some benefits of sesame oil are lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar levels, contains antioxidants that are good for skin health, contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
oils you shouldn't be using
We strongly suggest that you avoid highly processed oils such as vegetable and seed oils. These oils include canola/rapeseed, peanut, corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and grapeseed. Many of these oils contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats. The processing of these oils removes any benefits that could have been part of the oil. For the most part any advantages to consuming these oils are completely stripped from it in the process of extracting and refining the oil. Remember that these kinds of oils were not available until the 20th century when technology became available to extract the oils from the plants. The extraction process uses chemicals or an oil mill. Then the oils go through a process to purify and refine them. Many of them contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which are known to be a cause of inflammation in the body. Be careful if you are eating out, take warning and be mindful of fried foods. They are often cooked in cheap vegetable oils that are usually overused.
Think about how many orders of food go through the fryer in between changing out the oil! The oil ends up being heated over and over which as we’ve mentioned is not good for the fatty acids in most oils. Many restaurants even use these highly processed oils for things cooked on a grill top. For example, grilled steak, chicken, etc. which you might think are healthier options than deep fried food can be cooked in vegetable or seed oils. These processed oils can create a lot of problems in in your body including heart disease, high cholesterol and inflammation.
Our focus with this article is to help you understand which oils to cook with and why. Now that you have all of this information, it should be clearer to see what the differences are between our top choices when it comes to oils. If you understand what you’re cooking with, you can get the most health benefits out of oils! Recall that oils can be a great source of healthy fats and we definitely recommend using them when trying to add fat to your diet. They can be used for sautéing, grilling, drizzling, roasting, dressings, marinating, broiling and more. Whenever possible, make sure that you are using high quality, organic options to get the most benefits out of them. We recommend that you be very cautious of highly processed oils. Avoid these oils at all costs as they provide very little nutritional value and are often very harmful to your body. When it comes to what oils you should and shouldn’t be using, we always have on hand: coconut/MCT oil, olive oil and avocado oil. Sesame oil and butter/ghee are other options to try out too! They each have so many benefits and can be used for cooking in so many ways. Using oils in cooking can not only add flavor but also make your food taste amazing!