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Not every oil can take the heat! Choose your cooking oils wisely with this handy guide
Don’t let the health benefits of your cooking oil go up in smoke!
Unsaturated fats like canola, olive and nut oils offer great health benefits, including helping with cholesterol control, decreasing cell inflammation and supporting brain function.
But, these positive effects literally go up in smoke when these oils are heated to very high temperatures. In fact, when oil reaches its maximum heat threshold (smoke point), it breaks down, its flavour changes and carcinogens can form.
When using high-temperature cooking methods, choose oils with a high smoke point (see table). Oils with low smoke points, such as extra-virgin olive oil, are best suited for salad dressings and lower-temperature cooking.
Other factors can decrease the smoke point of an oil too, including the combination of vegetable oils used in the product, the presence of batter or salt, the length of time the oil is heated, the number of times the oil is reheated, and whether the oil is correctly stored. It’s not hard to understand why salty, battered and deep-fried foods are not healthy.
Store cooking oils in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator (although the oil will appear cloudy until returned to room temperature).
Note: Oil should not be used if the colour has darkened, it has become thicker, there is sediment at the bottom, or it smells rancid or off.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.