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What Cooking Oil To Use?

I bet everyone is confused over which oil to use, you are not alone. In many instances it’s less about the oil and more about what you do with it, how you use it and how long you keep it.  I have researched on the web and consolidated many information here. Enjoy!
Type of Fats

Polyunsaturated fats can be found mostly in nuts, seeds, fish, algae, and leafy greens. They have been shown to lower the risk of heart attacks.

Monounsaturated fats are found in natural foods such as red meat, whole milk products, nuts and high fat fruits such as olives and avocados.

Saturated fats,  like butter and coconut oil, are the most stable. They are commonly considered to be potentially less healthful than fats with a lower proportion of saturated fatty acids and higher proportions of unsaturated fatty acids

Trans fats are unnatural fats, and they do not promote good health. The consumption of trans fats increases one's risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are more harmful than naturally occurring oils.

Types of oils

Unrefined oils: obtained from cold extraction methods only
Refined oils: obtained through high heat extraction.

Generally, an oil that has very little colour, aroma or taste is a refined oil. The best oils for health and flavour are probably unrefined cold pressed extra virgin oils, and, while they do cost more usually, they are not so great for high temperture cooking.

Refined oils have a higher smoke point* than their unrefined counterpart and when higher temperatures are required, they are almost a better option.

* The smoke point generally refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down to glycerol and free fatty acids, and produce bluish smoke. If oils are heated to smoke point there's an increased risk of producing carcinogens and the food will burn and taste terrible.

Varirties of Common Cooking Oils (sold in our supermarket)

Canola Oil has been said to be one of the most healthy of the cooking oils because of its low saturated fat content and high mono unsaturated fat.  It is great for frying, stir-frying, baking and grilling, but only with medium frying temperatures as its somke point is about 232°C.  Use it to replace butter, margarine or vegetable oil.

Grapeseed Oil is similar to olive oil. It can be used to lightly fry meats because of its high smoke point, 204°C. It can also help lower cholesterol.

Olive Oil are classified into 4 different varieties: extra virgin, virgin, extra light, and refined.  Extra virgin olive oil is the most common of those used. There are many uses for all varieties, such as stir-frying, cooking, sauteing and as an ingredient in recipes.  Olive Oil is also frequently used as  salad oils. It is the most healthy of all the oils as it is high in monounsaturated fat which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Many people use it daily in their meals, drizzling it over a wide variety of foods. It has the smoke point of 216°C.

Peanut Oil is a great oil to use when frying in high temperatures. It has the smoke point of 231 °C. It is used in Asian cooking to add great flavor to a number of dishes. It’s light and easy to cook with.

Rice Bran Oil is the oil extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice. It is notable for its very high smoke point of 254 °C and its mild flavor, making it suitable for high-temperature cooking methods such as stir frying and deep frying.

Sesame Oil is used in Asian cooking and has a distinct nutty taste that adds flavor to a number of dishes. Use it to stir-fry vegetables, beef and chicken. Health benefits include: magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, and vitamins B6 and E. It has a relative low smoke point of 177 °C.

Sunflower Oil is low in saturated fat and high in Vitamin E. Many food manufacturers are recognizing the health benefits of sunflower oil and are using it as the preferred oil in such snack foods as potato chips. It can be used in the home to fry, cook, and for use in salad dressings with the smoke point of 246 °C.

Vegetable Oil is probably the most commonly used of all the oils. It can be found frequently for use in recipes and can also be used for frying. Vegetable oil is actually a blend of several oils, such as corn, soybean, palm and sunflower.

Reuse Cooking Oil

Many people reuse their oils which can have the effect of reducing the smoke point of the oil. Reusing oils also increases the production of free radicals and should therefore be avoided regardless of the cost saving.

Storing Cooking Oil

Whether refined or not, all oils are sensitive to heat, light, and exposure to oxygen.  All oils should be kept in a cool, dry place. Refined oils high in monounsaturated fats keep up to a year (olive oil will keep up to a few years), while those high in polyunsaturated fats keep about six months. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils keep at least 9 months after opening. Other monounsaturated oils keep well up to eight months, while unrefined polyunsaturated oils will keep only about half as long. In contrast, saturated oils, such as coconut oil and palm oil, have much longer shelf lives and can be safely stored at room temperature.  Their lack of polyunsaturated content causes them to be more stable.

Discarding Used Oil

We need to properly discard used oils.  It should never be poured down your kitchen sink.  Not just for the environment-saving sake, but to save our own sewage pipes.  Oil can congeal and block pipes. The proper way to dispose of oil is to put it in a sealed non-recyclable container and discard it with regular garbage.


In my own opinion, olive oil (Extra Virgin) is my choice of daily use, salad dressing to light stir fry.  Canola oil, peanut oil, rice bran oil and sunflower oil are my alternative choices for stir fry and deep dry.  In a way there is no “healthiest oil” since each oil can offer different benefits and one may be a better choice than another in differnt cooking processes.


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