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What is the Best Cooking Oil?

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD
March 25, 2023
November 28, 2023

Do you also ponder in front of the supermarket aisle and wonder - I want to be healthy, but, which oil should I choose? What should I consider? What are smoking points? Should I buy single-origin oil or blended oils? We are going to answer these questions for you in this article.

What Factors Should I Consider When Picking a Cooking Oil?

Fat Composition

The American Heart Association recommends replacing bad (saturated) fats with good (unsaturated) fats as a part of a healthy eating pattern.

Lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by choosing cooking oils rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats.

Smoke Point

The smoke point of oil is defined as the temperature at which it stops shimmering and starts smoking. When oil pasts its smoke point, it can lose its nutritional value and become unpalatable. It is also harmful for the body because of the free radicals that is produced during this process.

Refined / Unrefined

The production of refined oil involves high heat and may result in loss of nutrients and/or flavor. Though, the smoke point and shelf life is usually longer. On the other hand, when producing unrefined oil, there is minimal or no heat because they are produced using pressure. As a result, they are more nutritious. However, the shelf life is shorter.


Flavor is important, too. Experiment different cooking oils with different recipes! Here are some common combinations:

  • Avocado oil: the flavor is neutral and the smoke point is high, making it great for sautéing, and grilling any food.
  • Olive oil: the favor is distinct, based on the region that it is produced and the method of extraction, it can taste fruit or grassy. Great for mixing with salads.
  • Peanut oil: Comes with a mild, nutty taste. Matches well with Asian cuisine, including stir-fries and deep-fries.
  • Truffle oil: The flavor profile is very distinct. It can be described as earthy and musky. It is a great choice for making Italian and French foods tastier, such as risottos!

A Dietitian’s Top Picks and Oil Properties

The following 4 picks are all rich in antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties, and are a good source of Vitamin E!

Just to contrast, there's been a lot of hype about coconut oil in the last few years, so to set it straight, coconut oil has a whopping 83% saturated fat, and only 15% unsaturated fats. Not at all recommended for heart health. Read one of our other articles if you want to know more about coconut oil research.

Blended Oils Versus Single Origin Oils… Which is Better?

Blended oils are produced from mixing together different kinds of oils. They are wonderful because:

  • Usually less expensive than single origin oils.
  • Better health properties, since they have the combined properties of the oils that are mixed.

Single origin oils are made from a single type of oilseed. They have some unique benefits that blended oils don’t have:

  • Stronger flavor profile, which leads to the versatility of the dish.
  • Better traceability, meaning you can trace back to its source and learn about growing conditions and sustainability practices.

What About the Common Corn Oils and Vegetable Oils?

Corn Oils

Corn oils are higher in omega-6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory. Therefore, they are not one of the top choices. Some people may also argue (off-topic) that corn is more genetically modified, more widely grown, and therefore corn oil is more likely to come from corn that wasn't farmed using sustainable farming practices.

Vegetable Oils

Note, they are not generic. Vegetable oils can be made from a blend of soybean oil and other oil(s) or they can be made from solely soybeans. The reason soybean oils are called vegetable oils is mainly a marketing decision. Like corn oils, soybean oils also contain a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids (inflammatory). There are many healthier options out there, so try to avoid them if you can.

All Oils Considered…

There is no “best” cooking oil. It can a be a very individualized choice. My suggestion? Try out the four healthier oils that were recommended earlier in this article, either blended or single origin. Experiment different cooking oils with different recipes! Remember, when it comes to creating a healthy diet routine, balancing your nutrients, keeping your fat portions steady and small, AND having a variety of selections is key!

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