Should You Consume Oils?

Oils are often placed in the “use sparingly” category of the food pyramid. Many of the nutrients are lost when oils are processed and they are generally much higher in omega-6 than omega-3.

However, without eating fats we wouldn’t feel full.
Fats are essential to a healthy diet and oils play a part in that.

I always advocate for whole foods over their processed counterparts. That means I choose walnuts over walnut oil.
But you can’t stir fry chow mein on a bed of nuts.

There is a place for oils in your kitchen.

Learn what oils to use and when + how to keep your oils from oxidizing.

extend your oils shelf life

Just like any other food oils can go bad. This process is called oxidation – which essentially means the oils have become rancid and should not be consumed.

This can happen rapidly when cooking once you’ve reached a smoke point or it can happen gradually over time from exposure or heat, air, and light. First, let’s break down the three ways oils oxidize then we will dive a little deeper into what smoke point actually is and how you can avoid it.


Ever wonder why oils come in dark glass bottles? Because light alone can begin to degrade oils.

This is why I never leave my oils out on the counter. Put that baby in the cupboard.


You know those convenient bottle toppers that allow you to pour oil easily without unscrewing a lid?

Well, get rid of them.

The constant exposure of oxygen to your oil will speed up the process of oxidation. Just remember oxygen will oxidize your oils. Put that cap back on.


Of course, the oil oxidizes as soon as it reaches smoke point. But you can also destroy your oil before its put over a flame.

Storing your oils near the window or over/near the stove is a recipe for disaster. This consistent low-grade heat will start to hasten the denaturing of the oils over time. Pick a cabinet in your kitchen that isn’t by either place and keep it cool and safe. 

what is smoke point?

The hotter oils and fats get the more they break down and eventually smoke.

The temperature at which given oils starts to smoke = smoke point.

When the oil stops simmering and starts smoking, your oil has reached its smoke point.

As a general rule unrefined oils have a lower smoke point than refined oils. These unrefined oils are usually more flavorful and are better for drizzling on salads  – not for sautéing. On the flip side refined oils are neutral in flavor and have higher smoke points.

cold pressed vs. refined oils

cold pressed oil

Traditionally, oils are extracted from nuts and seeds through mechanical crushing and pressing.

If bottled immediately there after, you have cold-pressed raw or virgin oil. Tends to retain its natural flavor and color.

Many refined oils are packed with minerals and enzymes that are susceptible and rancidity and damaged by heat.

refined oil

To produce oils with a high smoke point, manufacturers use industrial level refinement process like bleaching, filtering, and high-temperature heating to extract and eliminate extraneous compounds.

What you’re left with are a neutral flavored oil with a longer shelf life and a higher smoke point.

Many of the nutrients are lost during this refinement process.

what oils to use and when

Basic principals apply, more refined oils can withstand higher heats, their cold-pressed counterparts are more susceptible to rancidity.

When oils oxidize and become rancid they are now are full of free radicals and the nutritional qualities are lost. No one wants to eat oxidized oils. That’s why it’s crucial to know which oils to use in different cooking scenarios.

Smoke point: 520 degrees
Use for searing, frying, grilling, roasting, baking and salad dressings. 

Smoke point: 430 degrees
Use for frying, grilling, roasting, baking and salad dressings. 

Smoke point: 350 degrees F.
Use for sautéeing and baking.

Smoke point: 400 degrees
Use for sautéeing, pan-frying and baking. 

Smoke point: 350 degrees
Use for sautéeing and baking. 

Smoke point: 410 degrees
Use for sautéeing and frying over medium-high heat, and salad dressings. 

Smoke point: 225 degrees
Use for salad dressings, smoothies and drizzling over cooked foods. 

Smoke point: 400 degrees
Use for sautéeing, frying, baking and salad dressings.

Smoke point: 450 degrees F (refined).
Use for searing, deep-frying, pan-frying, sautéeing, roasting, grilling, baking and salad dressings (mild flavour). 

Smoke point: 450 degrees F.
Use for searing, deep-frying, pan-frying, sautéeing, roasting, grilling, baking and salad dressings (mild flavour). 

Smoke point: 440 degrees F (refined).
Use for deep-frying, pan-frying, sautéing, roasting, grilling, baking and salad dressings (mild flavour).

Smoke point: 320 degrees F (unrefined).
Use for salad dressings and drizzling over foods after cooking. 

whole foods vs. oils

Using oxidized or rancid oil should be avoided.
Store your cooking oils in a cool cabinet away from heat and light.

When used properly, moderate consumption of oils can be a source of healthy fat in your diet.

However, do not make oils your primary source of healthy fats.
Many of the key nutrients are lost during the process of oil extraction.

Whole food fat sources (avocado) are a more desirable than consuming their processed counterparts (avocado oil).