Not all oils are created equal, and no single oil should be used for all your cooking needs. Instead, fill your pantry with a variety and learn how to cook with each.

Know the smoke point

Because of their chemical makeup, some oils are better suited for lower-heat cooking than others. This is important because heating oil above its smoke point — the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke — produces toxic fumes and harmful free radicals (the stuff we’re trying to prevent in the first place). A good rule of thumb: the more refined the oil, the higher its smoke point.

High smoke point Best suited for searing, browning and deep frying (avoid).

Oil % Mono % Poly % Sat Nutrition Notes
Almond 65 28 7 Distinctive nutty flavor
Avocado 65 18 17 Sweet aroma
Hazelnut 82 11 7 Bold, strong flavor
Palm 38 10 52 High in saturated fat. Not recommended
Sunflower 79 7 14 Seek out high-oleic versions, which are higher in monounsaturated fat
“Light” olive/refined olive 78 8 14 The more refined the olive oil, the better its all-purpose cooking use. “Light” refers to color and is not pure olive oil.

Medium-high smoke point Best suited for baking, oven cooking or stir frying.

Oil % Mono % Poly % Sat Nutrition Notes
Canola 62 31 7 Contains low levels of omega-3
Grapeseed 17 73 10 High in omega-6
Macadamia nut 84 3 13 Bold flavor
Extra virgin olive 78 8 14 Best-pick oil
Peanut 48 34 18 Great for stir frying

Medium smoke point  Best suited for light sautéing, sauces and low-heat baking.

Oil % Mono % Poly % Sat Nutrition Notes
Corn 25 62 13 High in omega-6. High-oleic (monounsaturated fat) versions coming soon
Hemp 15 75 10 Good source of omega-3. Keep refrigerated
Pumpkinseed 32 53 15 Contains omega-3
Sesame 41 44 15 Rich, nutty flavor. Keep refrigerated
Soybean 25 60 15 High in omega-6
Walnut 24 67 9 Good source of omega-3
Coconut 6 2 92 Lauric acid – fights viruses and bacteria

No-heat oils*  Best used for dressings, dips or marinades.

Oil % Mono % Poly % Sat Nutrition Notes
Flaxseed 65 28 7 Excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid,

a form of omega-3

Wheat Germ 65 18 17 Rich in omega-6. Keep refrigerated

*Toasted sesame, extra virgin olive and walnut oils also work well.

Portion control

Choosing the right fat and the right cooking method for that fat are important, but so is proper portion control.

Fats at a glance

Remember the following strategies when it comes to cooking with fats:

Saturated fats – Bottom line: the fewer the better. Less than 7 percent of your daily fat calories should come from saturated fats. Eliminate whole and 2 percent dairy, and limit red meat and other animal protein at meals (reduce frequency, portion size or both).

Trans fats – Eliminate from your diet by avoiding foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. (Read the ingredient list!) Shortening and stick margarine contain trans fat.

Monounsaturated fats – Ramp up your intake of olives, avocados and nuts, and use olive and canola oils for most of your cooking and baking, respectively.

Polyunsaturated fats – You’re likely already getting enough omega-6, so focus on increasing your intake of omega-3 foods such as salmon and walnuts.