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How to Choose the Perfect Cooking Oil (Plus our Top 5 Choices!)

by Jamie Kennedy on Thursday 14 January 2021

 

Choosing the right cooking oil, especially when there are so many options on the shelf can be tough!

But the oils you choose to cook with matters for your health, as well as your tastebuds. The good news? You’re not limited to one. In fact, studies show that including a variety of healthy fats found in different oils (and foods, of course) is great for your heart, gut and brain health. 

Let’s start with defining the ‘good’ fats and the ‘bad’ fats.

Healthy fats tend to be liquid at room temperature. These are called monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Unhealthy fats are the exact opposite, because they tend to be solid at room temperature. These include saturated fat and trans fat.

Essentially? Liquid at room temperature is a good sign you’re on the right track to a healthy diet. This is because unsaturated fats tend to improve cholesterol levels, lowering your risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, saturated fats tend to have the opposite effect and can increase your chances of disease. 

When we’re talking about cooking (especially with heat), we also need to consider an oil’s smoke point. Although sometimes smoking is inevitable (think stir-frying in a wok), oil tends to start breaking down at its smoke point. More than likely it won’t be very tasty and will take on an unfortunate ‘burnt’ flavour. 

It turns out certain oils can tolerate higher temperatures while others cannot tolerate high temperatures at all.

Guess which fat wins the higher smoke points? Good ol’ saturated fats (solid at room temperature)! Coming in last place is polyunsaturated fats (liquid at room temperature). They tend to have the lowest smoke points.

But, before we hang our head in defeat, there’s plenty to consider. It turns out monounsaturated fats (liquid at room temperature) have pretty decent smoke points, as well. In fact, many of these monounsaturated oils can be cooked at a temp you would be cooking with in your kitchen.

One more thing to factor in (and probably the most obvious) is the taste. Depending on how you’re planning to use the oil, you can add a lot of flavouring to your dish simply by adding an oil.

We’ve covered 3 important things you should consider when picking out your cooking oils: type of fat, smoke point and taste. Combining these factors when considering which oils to choose will have you cooking up a storm in no time. Now here’s a list of our top 5 oils we recommend and why.

Extra Virgin olive oil 

Fat content: High in monounsaturated fats, low in saturated fats 
Smoke point: Medium at 165 - 190 degrees 
Taste: Fruit, pepper 
Best use: Works for lighter temperature sauteing or drizzling room temperature on your ready-to-eat meal. 

Canola oil 

Fat content: Chemically processed but, high in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats 
Smoke point: High at 205 degrees 
Taste: Neutral 
Best use: Because of its high smoke temp, this can be used for frying, roasting and baking! Because it lacks flavour, use a different oil (like olive oil) for dressing up your meal. 

Avocado oil

Fat content: High in monounsaturated fats, low in saturated fats 
Smoke point: High at 205 degrees 
Taste: Grassy, avocado flavour, more neutral than olive oil 
Best use: Date night (because of it’s luxe price point), frying, roasting and marinade for dressings. 

Safflower oil

Fat content: Low in saturated fats, high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat 
Smoke point: Really high at 256 degrees 
Taste: Neutral 
Best use: With a high smoke temp, bring on the frying and sauteing! Because of it’s neutral flavour similar to canola, leave the other tastier flavours to dress up your meals. 

Coconut oil

Fat content: Sorry to say! But it’s high in saturated fats and low in unsaturated fats 
Smoke point: Medium at 175 degrees 
Taste: Creamy, sweet 
Best use: Best to choose other oils first, with the exception of baking. With its flavour profile, it is the best vegan alternative! 

There were many oils that didn’t make the cut, but now that you have more knowledge about oils, we recommend checking out the profiles of other oils you might find in the grocery aisles: flaxseed oil, clarified butter, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, rice bran oil and many more

Interested in taking your nutrition journey to the next level? Many of our personal trainers are trained in nutrition as well as fitness. Talk to us today about starting your personal training journey, and live happily ever active. 

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Book in for a free guided tour. We'll show you all the facilities and answer any questions you may have. No obligation. Just lots of smiles. We'll call you to book your visit at a convenient time.

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