TOTW Tuesday: What Cooking Oil Should I Use?

by Ashley on October 21, 2013

The debate on whether or not added oil to the diet is healthy certainly out there.

While there are people like Dr. Fuhrman who argue that most  oil (including olive) is not a whole food but rather a highly processed, high fat, calorie dense food, we also know that oils like olive oil are high in monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to be heart healthy. Dr. Fuhrman suggests that oils that are high in monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, are simply less harmful than saturated (mostly animal fat) or trans (man-made fat created in a lab) fat.

Even though I absolutely understand Dr. Fuhrman’s reasoning, I also think that if we all would begin to use heart healthy oils like we do butter, we would be a healthier nation overall. So what I am suggesting is that we choose the lesser of the two evils, but also use them in moderation. Since most of these cooking oils contain approximately 120 calories per tablespoon (yep, tablespoon!), regardless of which oil you choose, they are all still high in calories, leading to weight gain if consumed in excess.

For today’s Tip of the Week, I want to show you which cooking oils to choose and what to use them for. You might be surprised at what you find!


**Oils to Consume:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

What you need to know:

  • high in healthy fat and antioxidants
  • can help with inflammation
  • extra virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point, therefore, when heated it is converted to an unhealthy fat; it should never be used for sautéing or cooking because of this
  • if you are going to be using olive oil for cooking, just make sure that you use regular olive oil versus extra virgin olive oil, which has a higher smoke point

Use for: salads, cold dishes, dipping

Virgin Coconut Oil:

What you need to know:

  • high in saturated fat, however, the chains are shorter (Medium Chain) than that of other saturated fats (Long Chain), and is therefore absorbed differently in the human body, as well as burned more readily
  • has a neutral effect on your cholesterol
  • has a very high smoke point therefore it is safe to be used in cooking (my favorite cooking oil!)

Use for: sautéing, cooking, baking,

Organic Canola Oil (Rapeseed Oil):

What you need to know:

  • higher smoke point, therefore, is safe to be used in cooking; I suggest buying canola organic since ~93% of canola is genetically modified (GMO)
  • great multi-purpose oil
  • contains the least amount of saturated fat of any oil

Use for: sautéing, cooking, baking

Avocado Oil:

What you need to know:

  • high in healthy fat
  • has a very high smoke point

Use for: salads, marinades, cooking, sautéing

Other oils to try:  walnut oil, sesame oil

**Oils to Avoid:

Partially Hydrogenated Oils/Hydrogenated Oils:

What you need to know:

  • these are trans fats (man-made in a lab) that are added to products to increase their shelf life
  • they are shown to increase your LDL (bad cholesterol) AND decrease your HDL (good cholesterol)…double wammy
  • most are found on the inner isles of the grocery store and in gas stations in processed foods and snack items like pastries, doughnuts, chips, crackers, candies, etc.
  • avoid them at all costs

Palm Oil/Palm Kernel Oil:

What you need to know:

  • very high in saturated fat, which is shown to increase your LDL (bad cholesterol), thus increasing your risk for heart disease
  • found in many processed foods and snack items

Others to avoid: Corn Oil, Cotton Seed Oil, Soybean Oil

And just to note, since all oils are sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen, all oils should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent rancidity which causes  an unpleasant aroma and taste, as well decreases it’s nutrient value.

Are you like me and used to sauté foods in extra virgin olive oil?! These are the kinds of things we need to know!

I hope this helps you pick the right oil next time you stand in front of what seems like 30,000 options and also that you know what to use, when!

Have a great day!

Good health!



Morgan Mathis Trotter October 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Thanks Ashley for your education on oil. My colleague and I were just debating on all the unknowns of oils to use whether cooking or dipping with it. This was very helpful indeed!
Thanks again for the healthy education!

Ashley October 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Glad you found it helpful Morgan!! I am so happy to hear that! Miss you!!

Lisa November 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

For sauteeing veggies, etc, we use either coconut oil or grapeseed oil. They are the best! Mild flavors, even cooking.
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