So what oil should we be cooking with? Even more important than the health factor is the heating temperature of oils. Known as the smoke point, each oil can take a certain temperature before bad things start to happen. The smoke point is actually that – the point at which the oil begins to smoke. The smoke point is when all the nutrients begin to degrade and potentially harmful compounds begin to form.
When an oil makes certain claims such as heart healthy or packed with antioxidants or helps to lower cholesterol, remember that these claims are no longer true once they pass their smoke point. In fact, not only are the health benefits destroyed, but you could be ingesting carcinogens. To clarify even further, an oils smoke point is dependent on how refined the oil is. More refine, higher smoke point. Less refined, lower smoke point. Obviously, for cooking we are looking for a higher smoke point.
So, below are several factors we want to look at when choosing an oil:
- Smoke Point
- Types and ratios of fat content
- Process – chemical or pressed
We’ve created a chart that will give us some of useful information when choosing an oil.
We can infer much through this chart! First, you can see that Butter and Flax should not be used for high heat cooking as it has the lowest smoke point (along with the unrefined sunflower and safflower).
Conversely, canola, peanut, palm, corn and most of the refined oils are good to cook with. However, let’s now look at the rest of the information.
While you can cook with palm oil and coconut oil (as well as butter on low heat), they are also the highest in saturated fats – coconut oil being a whopping 91% saturated fat! To break it down further, however, both coconut and palm oil are very high in lauric acid (of the saturated fat), hence the coconut oil craze, since lauric acid is also used medicinally. So, at this point, we certainly would not cut those two oils from our choices.
Now, take palm oil. High smoke point and high in lauric acid of the saturated fat. However, palm oil also has a 10:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. That would probably cut palm oil from our list of choices. Again, canola oil comes out on top with a 2:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.
- Let’s look at deep frying. Temperatures for deep frying are between 325-400, so we need an oil that has a smoke point over 325. Looking at our chart, we can infer several things:
- Walnut oil has to be at least semi-refined, however also has a terrible Omega ratio and is expensive
- Sunflower oil also has to be semi or fully refined, and also has a terrible Omega ratio.
- Soybean oil again, has to be semi or fully refined with a lousy Omega ratio.
- The same goes for sesame, safflower oil and peanut oil.
- Olive and corn oil has a great smoke point, but a crappy Omega ratio.
- Turns out, canola oil has a great smoke point, is the lowest in saturated fat and has the best Omega ratio! Of course, this is assuming you are using expeller pressed, non-gmo canola oil so that you are not destroying the Omega 3s with the heat and chemical extraction and refinement method. Add non-GMO and you have the perfect oil for high heat cooking!
My favorite two oils are expeller-pressed, non-GMO canola oil and extra virgin olive oil. For low heat cooking, I use the extra virgin olive oil for flavor and the extra nutrients in olive oil. For any high heat cooking, I always use the good canola oil.
I am trying to find ways to incorporate some of the other oils into my diet, but on a limited basis. I am definitely falling on the coconut oil, all the time craze as I believe the huge saturated fat level should be mitigated with moderation use.
So, there we go. Gringo Jack’s uses expeller-pressed, non-GMO canola oil for our chips because we did the research and want to make the best possible product we can for you and your family. I mean, hey a snack is a snack, but snacks made with good ingredients have their place and a rightful place it is – I mean, how dull diets would be without them!