Which Cooking Oil To Use? Our 7 Best Recommendations

Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.
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It is very common to pick up any oil you find at the grocery store without actually checking what it’s made out, its nutritional values, and if or not it would be healthy for you. 
When it comes to everyday cooking, the most vital item is cooking oil. Many aspects of your health are influenced by the cooking oil you use. When it comes to selecting oils for culinary purposes, we have to be very careful because using the wrong kind of oil could be detrimental to your health. 

In this article, we’ll be talking about the best cooking oils, the worst oils, and what to look out for when selecting cooking oil for your pantry.

Oil Overview

Cooking oil is a form of fat that can be made from plants, animals, or synthetic materials and is used in frying, baking, and other sorts of cooking. It’s also known as edible oil because it’s used in food preparation and flavoring that doesn’t involve heat, such as salad dressings and bread dipping sauces.

Olive oil, palm oil, soybean oil, canola oil (rapeseed oil), corn oil, peanut oil, and other vegetable oils, as well as animal-based oils like butter and lard, are all common cooking oils.

Oils used for cooking tend to get their name from the nut, seeds, fruits, plants or cereals they’re extracted from, either by methods of crushing, pressing, or processing. Each type of oil has its own chemical composition, which means some oils are better suited for salads, while others will help you achieve that perfect sear on a steak.

Oils have a high-fat content, which includes saturated fat, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Oil is extracted by three general methods: rendering, used with animal products and oleaginous fruits; mechanical pressing, for oil-bearing seeds and nuts; and extracting with volatile solvents, employed in large-scale operations for a more complete extraction than is possible with pressing.

Types Of Fat In Oil

Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats are present in various proportions in natural fats.

  • At room temperature, saturated fats are solid and relatively stable. Because they are resistant to oxidation, they can frequently withstand greater temperatures.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are the least stable for cooking since they are liquid at room temperature. If not designated for high heat or “high oleic,” they oxidize quickly and can be found in safflower and sunflower oils.
  • Monounsaturated fats are likewise liquid at room temperature and are more stable than polyunsaturated fats in general. Canola, nuts, and olives all contain them.

Unrefined Oil

Unrefined oils are either cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, which means they are extracted from the seed, nut, or other source using mechanical extraction (pressure) and low-temperature regulated circumstances. They are also known as ‘virgin’ or ‘extra virgin’. To remove big particles, unrefined oils are only gently filtered. After sitting, some oils, such as sesame or olive oil, may seem murky or contain visible sediment. This has no effect on the quality of the product. Flavors, colors, and smells are more prominent in unrefined oils than in refined oils. Unrefined oils, like unrefined whole grain flours, are more nutritious and have a shorter shelf life than refined oils. Unrefined oils are best used cold in salad dressings or in low-heat sautéing or baking. If their natural resins and other beneficial particles are warmed, they burn readily, developing disagreeable tastes and unhealthful qualities.

Refined Oil

Naturally refined oils are filtered and strained more thoroughly than unrefined oils, usually with a little extra heat but no harsh or destructive chemicals. Refining lowers the nutritious content and alters the flavor. It also eliminates particles and resins, making naturally refined oils more stable for extended storage, smoking-resistant, and suitable for high-heat cooking and frying. “High oleic” safflower, sunflower, and peanut oil are refined oils that are recommended for high-heat cooking and deep-frying. These oils are made from monounsaturated fat-rich types that are well-suited to high heat.

What to look out for when selecting a cooking oil

Cooking oils are a must-have in any kitchen. However, there is a lot of contradicting evidence about how beneficial they are. How do we know which ones to use and if we should avoid any at all, with so many on the market from coconut to olive, vegetable to canola, avocado to rapeseed oil?

Here are the things to look out for when choosing cooking oil for your pantry:

Their Smoke Points

The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it stops shimmering and starts smoking. The smoke point is also called the burning point of oil and can range from relatively low 325 F to very high (520 F).

When the oil reaches its smoke point the oil starts to break down. When oil reaches its smoke point and starts to burn, it destroys phytochemicals and beneficial nutrients in both the oil and the food create highly flammable conditions, and releases free radicals that are potentially harmful to your health if consumed. The smoke point and characteristics of different oils are influenced by a variety of factors. Roasting, crushing, and pressing are common methods for extracting oils, oils contain varying amounts of minerals and nutrients depending on whether or not they have been refined after being pressed and extracted. So, it is always recommended that you use the cooking oil with a high smoke point.

Later on in this article, we’ll talk about different cooking oils and their smoke points.

Effect On Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is a waxy type of fat, or lipid, which moves throughout your body in your blood. Lipids are substances that do not dissolve in water, so they do not come apart in blood. Your body makes cholesterol, but you can also get it from foods.

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and digestive fluids. Cholesterol also helps your organs function properly. LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. Having too much LDL cholesterol can be a problem. High LDL cholesterol over time can damage your arteries, contribute to heart disease, and increase your risk for a stroke.

The cooking oils you use can help lower your LDL cholesterol and could as well increase it.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in heart-healthy oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, and sunflower oils. They aid in the reduction of dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and the increase of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Butter is high in saturated fat, see, and saturated fat raises your cholesterol.


It is always preferable to purchase cooking oil that is neutral and does not alter the flavor or taste of the components. Few cooking oils have the ability to impart their flavor to anything they come into contact with. It is preferable to select a neutral, low-cholesterol oil for cooking.

Fatty acid profile

Omega 6 fatty acids are abundant in oils such as safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil. The importance of omega 6 fatty acids in the diet cannot be overstated. Linoleic acid (LA) is an omega-6 fatty acid that is required for good health. Essential fatty acids are those that our bodies cannot produce on their own and must be obtained from our diet. Overconsumption of omega 6 fatty acids, on the other hand, can be harmful. Omega 6 fatty acids are far more abundant in the Western diet than they were in our forefathers’ diets. The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in a Western diet is thought to be as high as 20:1. A high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, according to scientists, can lead to chronic inflammation.

Their oxidative ability

Cooking oil can oxidize when exposed to heat, light, and oxygen. Oxidized oils can produce hazardous substances and toxic by-products, as well as alter the flavor of your food. An oil with a longer induction time is more resistant to oxidation, while one with a shorter induction time is more easily oxidized.

The Best Oils For Cooking

When it comes to picking which sort of oil to sauté, bake, or drizzle with, home cooks have a lot of alternatives. Some are well-known, such as olive oil, while others, such as avocado or coconut oil, are less well-known.

The term “vegetable oil” is used to refer to any oil that comes from plant sources, and the healthfulness of a vegetable oil depends on its source and what it’s used for.

1. Olive Oil

cooking oil
Image credit: Afrimash

Olive oil is a liquid fat made by pressing entire olives and extracting the oil from olives (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It’s a common ingredient in cooking, frying, and salad dressing. It’s also utilized in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, as well as being a source of fuel for traditional oil lamps, and has religious significance.  Extra virgin, virgin, and refined olive oil are the three varieties (or grades) available. They’re classified according to the amount of processing they go through before being bottled and marketed. Olive oil that has been refined is the most processed of the three.

Extra-virgin olive oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is olive oil that has not been subjected to any chemical or heat treatment, implying that it was cold-pressed from the fruit. As a result, the oil is of greater quality, more delicious, and darker in color. Depending on the olives picked, extra-virgin olive oils have a wide range of flavors, ranging from floral and fruity to bitter and peppery. Extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point is somewhere around 374–405°F (190–207°C) and is used as sauté, finishing oil, dressings, marinades, and baking.

Nutritional value of olive oil
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, 1 tbsp, or 13.5 grams (g) of olive oil, provides:

  • 119 calories
  • 13.5 g of fat, of which 1.86 g is saturated
  • 1.9 milligrams (mg) of vitamin E
  • 8.13 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K

It also contains traces of calcium and potassium, as well as polyphenols, tocopherols, phytosterols, squalene, and terpenic acids, and other antioxidants.

2. Canola Oil

cooking oil
Image credit: Ariyan International Inc.

Canola (Brassica napus L.) is an oilseed crop created through plant crossbreeding. Canola oil is oil made from crushed canola seeds. It is one of the best oils for heart health. Canola oil is one of the most flexible cooking oils due to its light flavor, high smoke point, and smooth texture.

Canola oil is low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, similar to olive oil. It also includes a lot of polyunsaturated fat. There are both edible and industrial forms produced from the seed of any of several cultivars of the plant family Brassicaceae.

Canola oil’s safety, however, has been questioned. Some claim that canola oil contains significant levels of erucic acid, a toxin that can cause everything from respiratory distress to blindness in humans. However, its erucic acid levels are substantially below the FDA’s requirements.

Canola oil has a smoke point of 400-450°F (204-230°C) and is used in searing, saute, pan-fry, stir-fry, baking, roasting, grilling, and deep-frying.

Nutritional value of canola oil
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 tablespoon (14g) of canola oil:

  • Calories: 124
  • Fat: 14g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Fat provides all of the calories in canola oil. The majority of the fat, however, is considered “healthy fat.”

Canola oil has four grams of polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are necessary fatty acids, which means your body can’t produce them and you have to get them from food.

3. Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil
Image credit: FirstCry Parenting

Sunflower oil is the non-volatile oil pressed from the seeds of a sunflower. Sunflower oil is commonly used in food as a frying oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient. Sunflower oil is primarily composed of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat, and oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat.

Sunflower seed oil is another name for sunflower oil. Its color can range from clear to golden yellow. Sunflower oil is now used for cooking all over the world, and it can be found in a variety of commercially produced and processed goods. It’s also utilized in cosmetics and as a skin-care component.

Types Of Sunflower Oil
There are three types of sunflower oil available; Mid-Oleic, Linoleic, and High Oleic sunflower oil. All are developed with standard breeding techniques and as their name suggests, they each differ in oleic levels and each one offers unique properties.

Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid with two double bonds in its carbon chain. It is commonly known as omega-6. Oleic acid, often known as omega-9, is a monounsaturated fatty acid that has one double bond. Because of these characteristics, they are liquid at room temperature.

Linoleic and oleic acids are both energy sources for the body and contribute to the strength of cells and tissues.

However, they react to heat in different ways during cooking and hence may have varied health impacts.

High oleic sunflower oil includes stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid that solidifies at room temperature and has a variety of culinary uses.

This type of sunflower oil isn’t for cooking at home; instead, it’s for packaged meals, ice creams, chocolate, and industrial frying.

Nutritional Value Of Sunflower Oil
The main nutrients in 1 ounce (30 grams or 1/4 cup) of shelled, dry-roasted sunflower seeds are:

Sunflower seeds
Calories 163
Total fat, which includes: 14 grams
• Saturated fat 1.5 grams
• Polyunsaturated fat 9.2 grams
• Monounsaturated fat 2.7 grams
Protein 5.5 grams
Carbs 6.5 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Vitamin E 37% of the RDI
Niacin 10% of the RDI
Vitamin B6 11% of the RDI
Folate 17% of the RDI
Pantothenic acid 20% of the RDI
Iron 6% of the RDI
Magnesium 9% of the RDI
Zinc 10% of the RDI
Copper 26% of the RDI
Manganese 30% of the RDI
Selenium 32% of the RD

Source: Healthline

4. Safflower Oil

Safflower oil
Image credit: Greenfield

The seeds of the safflower plant are used to make safflower oil, which is a popular cooking oil. According to certain research, it may have some health benefits when used in the diet and on the skin. Because of its high smoke point and neutral flavor, safflower oil may be a healthier alternative to olive oil when cooking at high temperatures.

High cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, scar prevention, and a variety of other ailments are all treated with safflower seed oil, however, there is no clear scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Safflower seed oil is used as a cooking oil in meals. The safflower flower is used to color cosmetics and dye fabrics in the industrial industry. As a paint solvent, the safflower seed oil is utilized.

Safflower oil high in linoleic acid is primarily found in margarine and salad dressings. Other varieties of safflower plants produce oil that is high in oleic acid. This type of safflower oil is a heat-stable option better suited for cooking.

High-linoleic-acid safflower oil is mostly found in margarine and salad dressings. Other safflower cultivars generate oil with high oleic acid content. This sort of safflower oil is more heat-resistant and therefore better for cooking.

Safflower oil has a smoke point of 266 °C.

Nutritional Value
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one tablespoon (14g) of safflower oil.

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 14g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Vitamin E: 4.6mg

Safflower oil has three different forms of fat.

This oil has only a modest quantity of saturated fat. Saturated fats are less healthful fats since they might lead to heart disease. We should choose oils with less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, according to the American Heart Association. Per tablespoon, safflower oil contains only one gram of saturated fat.

When you eat a tablespoon of safflower oil, you’ll also get two grams of polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered good fats because they have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system.

Monounsaturated fat, primarily oleic acid, makes up the majority of the fat in safflower oil. It’s vital to remember that safflower comes in two varieties that produce oil. One contains a lot of oleic acids (monounsaturated fat), whereas the other contains a lot of linoleic acids (polyunsaturated fat). The one high in monounsaturated fats is the one you’re most likely to buy in the grocery store for cooking.

Safflower oil has no protein neither does it contain carbohydrates, but contains Vitamin E.

5. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil
Image credit: Bicycling

Avocado oil is made from the flesh of the avocado fruit. It’s a favorite cooking oil because of its mild flavor and high smoke point, but you can also eat it raw. In terms of usability and nutritional value, avocado oil is fairly similar to olive oil. Cold-pressed avocado oil, like extra virgin olive oil, is unrefined and preserves part of the flavor and color of the fruit, rendering it greenish in appearance.

While avocados have become increasingly popular, avocado oil is still quite uncommon. However, if you’re looking for a heart-healthy oil to use in cooking, salad dressings, and other applications, it could be a good choice.

Nutritional Value Of Avocado Oil
A tablespoon of avocado oil contains:

  • Calories: 124.
  • Fat: 14 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams.
  • Protein: 0 grams.
  • Fiber: 0 grams.
  • Sugars: 0 grams.
  • Sodium: 1 milligram.

A tablespoon of avocado oil contains:

  • Monounsaturated fat: 10 grams.
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2 grams.
  • Saturated fat: 2 grams.

Avocado oil is a heart-healthy oil that is high in unsaturated fat oleic acid. It contains vitamin E and aids in the absorption of other fat-soluble vitamins by the body. Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which have been associated to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol levels.

6. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil
Image credit: Medical News Today

Coconut oil comes from the flesh of coconuts and is a tropical oil. Both virgin and refined coconut oil are available in stores. The type of product you’re purchasing will be specified on the front label. Virgin coconut oil is less processed than refined coconut oil, so its delicious, coconut-y tropical flavor is preserved. Refined coconut oil is subjected to greater processing, resulting in a more neutral odor and flavor. You can use the refined version as the main cooking oil for a range of recipes because it doesn’t have that distinct tropical flavor.

Coconut oil should either be avoided or used in moderation, depending on who you ask. Coconut oil’s main source of contention is its high saturated fat content; unlike other plant-based oils, it is largely saturated fat. Although not everyone thinks that such a concentrated dose of saturated fat is bad for your health, some experts, such as the American Heart Association, suggest that replacing high-saturated-fat foods with healthier alternatives can help lower blood cholesterol and improve lipid profiles. Despite this, science is beginning to suggest that not all saturated fats are harmful to your health.

Coconut oil also has powerful health benefits. It is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens. The fats in coconut oil can also boost metabolism slightly and increase feelings of fullness compared to other fats.

Nutritional Value
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these are the nutrition facts for a 1 tablespoon serving of coconut oil:

  • Calories: 121
  • Protein : 0 grams (g)
  • Fat: 13.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 11.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

7. Sesame Oil

cooking oil
Image credit: The Kitchen Community

The seeds of the blooming sesame plant, also known as Sesamum indicum, are used to make sesame oil. Although these plants are native to East Africa and India, they are now grown in a variety of places across the world. Sesame oil has become one of the most popular cooking oils due to its hearty, nutty flavor and high quantities of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Sesame oils extracted from raw seeds have a light color and a delicate, neutral flavor. Toasted kinds, on the other hand, have a deeper, richer, and nuttier flavor. Both can be used in the kitchen. Sesame oil is frequently used in the preparation of meats and vegetables, as well as in dressings and marinades.

Sesame oil is thought to provide a number of health benefits, including heart-healthy lipids, anti-inflammatory properties, and UV protection. To completely comprehend the benefits (and potential hazards) of sesame oil, more research is required.

Sesame oil comprises 82% of unsaturated fatty acids. In particular, it’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is essential to your diet and plays an important role in heart disease prevention. Sesame oil has a high smoke point (410˚)

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Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

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