In recent years, misleading studies and the media have turned fat from public enemy number one to a dietary cure-all. The nutritional value of fats isn’t that black or white, and like anything, it’s essential for us to thrive health-wise to find the right type of oils and be discerning with the quality and quantity. Since the respective smoke point of oils can determine whether they are beneficial or damaging, we’re going to explain all you need to know in order to make an informed decision when choosing oils for your culinary creations.
The truth about oil
The previous understanding that saturated fats are responsible for heart disease has now been debunked. Nowadays it looks like it may not be as bad as previously thought for us to have saturated fats in moderation. With this in mind, plant fats still remain at the top of the list regarding health. Plant-based fats including monounsaturated fats (olive, avocado, and canola oil) and polyunsaturated fats (corn, soybean, and sunflower oil) are all part of a healthy diet and can support our heart, skin, brain, and vision unless they are processed or reach their smoke point.
What exactly is a smoke point?
If you have ever experienced an oil producing a grey-colored smoke while heating it up or cooking, then this is when it has reached its smoke point. This point can vary according to the type of oil and its chemical makeup. When oil smokes, it becomes highly dangerous as this is when the oil starts to release toxic compounds linked to high-risk diseases like cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
When it comes to cooking, not all oils are created equal. Some can handle higher heats better than others. To simplify your shopping and make it healthier, we’ve created an oil smoke point list and grouped them by high heat, low heat, and no heat temperatures.
Smoke point of oils
High heat: High smoke point oils
Avocado oil: Smoke point 520°F (270°C)
Peanut oil: Smoke point 450°F (230°C)
Corn oil: Smoke point 450°F (230°C)
Soybean oil: Smoke point 450°F (230°C)
Low heat: Medium smoke point oils
These oils are prime for cooking at a medium to low heat, such as with a slow roast or medium-low pan fry. Cooking slow and low is the way to go.
Sesame oil: Smoke point 400°F (205°C)
Lard or animal fat: Smoke point 400°F (205°C)
Vegetable shortening: Smoke point 360°F (180°C)
Coconut oil: Smoke point 350°F (175°C)
Butter: Smoke point 350°F (175°C)
No heat: Low to smoke point oils
Oils with the lowest smoke point are suitable for dressings, drizzles, or dips such as the Feta, Tomato and Basil Crackers topped with olive oil, found in the 8fit recipe book.
Hemp seed oil: Smoke point 330°F (165°C)
Extra virgin olive oil: Smoke point 320°F (160°C)
Pistachio oil: Smoke point 250°F (120°C)
Flaxseed oil: Smoke point 225°F (105°C)
Unrefined oils: Smoke point 225°F (105°C)