Natural Alternative to Vegetable Oils | Health Blog

Date: 10/11/2006    Written by: Jon Barron

Cooking Oils, What's Healthy

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Question:

You mention that you don't like most vegetable oils for cooking. What oils should I use?

Answer:

The bottom line is that when possible, buy and use organic, unrefined, cold-processed vegetable oils. Use extra virgin olive oil in salads or to add to cooked foods, but not for high temperature cooking. Unrefined walnut oil is also good, but again only for low temperature uses.

You can use virgin coconut oil (high in beneficial saturated fats and medium chain triglycerides) for most mid-temperature cooking. However, coconut oil has a smoke point (the temperature at which it smokes and breaks down) of about 350 degrees F (171 C), which means it is not suitable for high temperature cooking. Other choices include virgin olive oil and even butter in small amounts.

Use avocado oil for high temperature cooking. Avocado oil has a very high smoke point by comparison to other cooking oils. It will not burn or smoke until it reaches 520 F (271 C), which is ideal for searing meats and frying in a Wok. Another good cooking oil is rice bran oil 495 F(257 C). Again, look for organic, cold-processed oil.

Here's a link to oils and fats and their smoke points that should be helpful.

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Comments

  •  
    Submitted by Barry on
    February 6, 2008 - 6:14am

    Hey, I also like rice oil a lot because the smoke point is so high. I tend to cook at high heat so it works for me plus I know that I am getting valuable nutrients just like brown rice.

  •  
    Submitted by jonbarron on
    June 8, 2010 - 9:33am

    Tony:

    Understood. Certainly avocado oil and rice bran oil are available at high end health food markets like Whole Foods, but not at most commercial supermarkets. On the other hand both oils can be easily ordered online -- not too much of sacrifice considering the impact on your health. That said, grapeseed oil will work. Just limit its use in your kitchen to high temperature frying and use healthier oils for salads, pastas, etc.

    Jon

  •  
    Submitted by K. Iverson on
    December 4, 2007 - 7:12am

    I really love cooking with rice bran oil. I like the fact that it has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. I also like walnut oil for salads. I never use canola oil because of all the bad press on the internet.

  •  
    Submitted by Kay Holt on
    October 13, 2008 - 3:56am

    Do I find alternative oils (for olive oil) in the same section on the grocery shelf? Or do I have to go to a special market? I've used olive oil for years, no substitutes. Thanks for helping me if you can. I Must have something healthy. kaypok

  •  
    Submitted by kay smith holt on
    October 13, 2008 - 3:50am

    I believe you, but where do I find Avocoda Oil?

  •  
    Submitted by Tony on
    June 7, 2010 - 11:49am

    Jon, avocado oil and rice bran oil is very hard to find a supermarkets, is there another alternative that has a high smoke point? Others have recommended Grapeseed oil (485 flash point), but it is high in Omega-6 fatty acids....

  •  
    Submitted by J on
    May 18, 2011 - 4:50pm

    Great ino.

    Aside from the recomended oil of avo and rice bran oil, you know REFINED coconut oils smokepoint rises 100 degrees (to 450F) above the virgin kind and is within the linits of high heat cooking.

    Beef tallow is another good oil for high heat cooking with a smokepoint of 420. Macdonald once apona time use this safe oil for chips until the health propaganda replaced it with rancid veg oil. Shame

  •  
    Submitted by Davidrichard on
    November 22, 2012 - 3:25am

    I really love cooking with rice bran oil. I like the fact that it has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. I also like walnut oil for salads.

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