Sunday, October 4, 2009


There are many different types of cooking oil commercially available today. Almost every one who cooks, cooks with oil. I used to do that too but now I don’t after learning how the application of heat actually changes the chemical composition of the oils and make them bad for our bodies.

All my recipes on this blog are using water in stir-fries and pan sears instead of oil and parchment paper in baking instead of butter or oil.

A quick scan on the internet and my neighborhood supermarket generated a list of 17 different commonly available types of oil. Oils can be extracted from seeds, nuts, fruits or vegetables. And all of them boost health benefits of either or both omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids. That is only if they are eaten/used cold without any application of heat. As mentioned, the application of heat almost always destroys or at least reduces the nutritional value of most ingredients.

The table below summarizes the smoking point (i.e. the temperature at which the oils loses their health benefits and become dangerous trans-fatty acids that are toxic to our bodies) and type of fat of each of these 17 oils. The information is gathered from the above sources and the lowest publicly recorded smoking point is indicated below. Just want to be conservative whenever my health is concerned. :)

Types of oil          Smoking point          Type of fat
Almond                     420F / 216C                    Monounsaturated
Avocado                   520F / 271C                    Monounsaturated
Canola                       375F / 190C                    Monounsaturated
Coconut                    350F / 177C                    Saturated
Corn                           400F / 204C                    Polyunsaturated
Cottonseed              420F / 216C                    Polyunsaturated
Grapeseed                420F / 216C                      Polyunsaturated
Hazelnut                   325F / 163C                    Monounsaturated
Macadamia nut      390F / 199C                    Monounsaturated
Olive                           320F / 160C                    Monounsaturated
Palm                           446F / 230C                     Saturated
Peanut                       212F / 100C                     Monounsaturated
Safflower (refined)     450F / 232C                     Polyunsaturated
Sesame                      350F / 177C                    Polyunsaturated
Soybean                   450F / 232C                     Polyunsaturated
Sunflower                 212F / 100C                    Polyunsaturated
Walnut                      Use cold                             Monounsaturated

You can usually tell if you have exceeded the smoke point of the oil you are using. There will be a smoky smell and visible smoke coming out from your pan. But seriously, by then, it’s already too late. The decomposed oil has already released toxic flavors into your food. If you absolutely have to cook with oil, maybe it’s a good idea to invest in a little cooking thermometer to keep track of your smoke points.

For me, I rather use them as is and savor their natural flavor the best way possible.

Knowing your fats
Fats that are good for our body are essential for the repair and functioning, growth and development of our bodies. But not all fats are created equal. Some are good for you and some you should definitely avoid.

Saturated fats are fatty acids that raise blood cholesterol levels. They are not good for you. Sources of saturated fat to look out for include butter, margarine and fats in meat and dairy products.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats on the other hand, do not raise blood cholesterol levels. They are good for you because they can lower your bad cholesterol.

Sources of information:

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