Smoking Points for Oils

I didn’t have room to write about this in the Latke post but someone asked me on Facebook why some oils become unhealthy after being heated and this was my response:

Every oil (and fat) has a point in which it will start to burn – so you want to make sure you use the correct oil for certain cooking techniques. Otherwise, the resulting free radicals can cause cellular damage. If your oil starts to smoke, pull it off of the heat, pour the oil into a heat-proof dish while it cools down (do not pour down drain!), wipe out the pan and start over.

Best refined oils for cooking at high heats: canola, peanut, sunflower, safflower, avocado

Best unrefined oils for cooking at medium to low-heat: olive, sesame, grape seed, soy and pumpkin

Best oils for dressings and marinades: olive, toasted sesame, walnut oil, *flax (*should never be heated at ALL).

For more info on oils and which ones can be used for frying versus those that should only be used for cold dressings (flax, toasted sesame), check out: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/guides/oils.php

Smoke points differ depending on if the oil is unrefined or refined – there are many sites that list the smoking points, here is one:  http://tinyurl.com/pfk4s

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