The Skinny on Cooking With Oils


What kind of oils are you cooking with? If you are using Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, you are over-paying for oil that should only be consumed in its raw state. Heating oil changes it, altering and destroying the healthy compounds called phenols. Phenols are beneficial for liver detoxification and immune support.

There is a point where heated oils lose their health benefits. This is called the “smoke point.” The oils not only lose their benefits, they also become harmful to consume. 

There are some oils that can be safely heated to high heat for cooking and their rich flavor will hold up. Avocado, extra-light olive oil and ghee are good choices. Ghee is butter that has been simmered so the milk solids caramelize with the fat.

Medium high heat is used most often for cooking vegetables and browning meat. The best oils for medium heat are virgin (not extra-virgin) olive oil and nut oils, like macadamia, almond or hazelnut oils.

For cooking with medium heat, unrefined coconut and sesame oils work well.

Extra-virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil can be used for salad dressings. Flavorful oils like pistachio, sesame and walnut oils can be used to drizzle over salads and foods for extra flavor and nutrients.

If you have never experimented with nut Oils, like Walnut, Macadamia or Hazelnut,

you are in for a treat. These oils are wonderful for making unique salad dressings.  Try mixing with lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, and adding a touch of aged or reduced balsamic vinegar, along with herbs you like. You can buy reduced balsamic vinegar at Trader Joe’s. I like to drizzle it on top of a salad for extra flavor.

Generally, it is better to go for unrefined, raw oils. Heat-treated, lose their health benefits. You can use heat treated oils like toasted sesame oil to add rich flavor to salads or Asian dishes, but be sure to eat plenty of unrefined oils for the benefits of the essential fatty acids. EFA’s are vital for heart, brain, skin and general nutrition. Processed oil such as Canola, Soy or Corn Oils should be avoided altogether.


Adding plenty of healthy oils to your diet can help with weight loss, because rich-tasting foods are more satisfying and will keep your blood sugar balanced, curbing appetite and giving you sustained energy.  Don’t settle for chemical bottled dressings-carry your own to work.


Here is a quick guide to cooking with oils:

High heat, 450-650°                         Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Pecan Oil, Ghee (or clarified        

                                                          butter, Extra-Light Olive Oil (not Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)

Medium-High Heat 375-449°         Virgin Olive Oil, Almond Oil, Hazelnut Oil, Macadamia Nut

                                                         Oil, Refined Coconut Oil

Medium Heat 324-374°                   Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Lard, Butter, Unrefined Coconut Oil

Medium-Low Heat 250-324°          Unrefined Sesame Seed Oil, Unrefined Walnut Oil

Low Heat 225-249°                          Pistachio Oil


Now you can cook smart and delicious!