Oils & Fats – How and When to Use Them

Oils and fats have a bad rap and are high in calories (1 tsp oil = ~50 calories!) However, fats also have many benefits. Additionally, not all fats are created equal. 

Did you know that the sugar industry played a LARGE role in this bad reputation? This started back in 1965 when the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) funded its first research project that was later published in New England Journal of Medicine. SRF sponsored research by Harvard scientists to single out fat and cholesterol as a dietary cause of coronary heart disease, while downplaying the role of sugar as a risk factor (ref).

Not all oil is bad (but this also does not mean you should go crazy with it either). Oil has some role (like enhancing flavor and preventing burns). 

When cooking or preparing meals, it’s important to know the role of oils and how/when they should be used. 

For example, sesame oil has a very low smoke point so it’s not ideal for frying. Avocado oil is one of the best oil to use for frying, especially deep frying, due to it’s very high smoke point; your food won’t burn as easily. Olive oil is good for light saute, but making sure it’s not EXTRA-VIRGIN because that is better for dressings/baking. 

FatIdeal forSmoke Point
Unrefined canola, sunflower or safflower, sesame oilDressing, Finishing225oF
ButterBaking, Dressings, Finishing225-350oF
Unrefined olive, corn, peanut, walnut oilBaking, Dressings, Finishing320oF
Coconut Oil, Unrefined Sesame OilBaking, Dressings, Finishing350oF
Macadamia OilBaking, Dressings, Finishing380-390oF
Refined Canola semi-refined walnut oilBaking, Dressings, Finishing400oF
Extra Virgin Olive OilBaking, Dressings, Finishing405oF
Refined Sesame OilLight Saute, Dressings, Finishing410oF
Virgin Olive OilLight Saute, Dressings, 420oF
Almond, Hazelnut OilDressing, Finishing430oF
Refined Canola, Olive OilCooking, Frying435oF
Refined Peanut, Sunflower OilCooking, Frying440-450oF
Soybean, Safflower OilCooking, Frying490-510oF
Avocado OilCooking, Frying520oF