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Why You Shouldn’t Use Olive Oil in Your Stir Fry

We all know that certain oils are healthier than others, but your oil health goes beyond just the type.  It turns out, that the health of your oil can be related to how you use it too.

Each type of oil has what is called a “smoke point.”  The smoke point is the specific temperature at which the oil starts to break down…or in more technical terms, its molecular structure begins to change.  These molecular changes result in changes in flavor, as well as changes in nutritional value…specifically, the nutritional value of the oil starts to degrade; changing what once may have been considered an especially healthy oil (such as Olive or Flaxseed which is rich in Omega-3s), into one that is  unhealthy.

The higher an oil’s smoke point, the higher the temperature the oil can withstand.  As a result, each type of oil should be used for the cooking method that is most appropriate to its individual smoke point and heat tolerance.  Here is a quick guide for the next time you reach for your favorite oil.

During Cooking
Oil Best Use
No-Heat Flaxseed Salads
Low to Moderate Coconut Baking (low heat)
Light Sautéing
Pressure Cooking
Medium Heat Macadamia Nut Baking (medium heat)
High Heat Avocado Deep Browning
Soybean / Soy

Note that the above table represents oils that are refined.  Most of the oils we buy in stores are refined.  Refined oils tend to have much higher smoke points than their unrefined counterparts.  They also differ in nutrition and flavor.  Unrefined oils are more nutritious (some of oils’ nutrients are removed during the refining process) and they tend to be much richer in flavor.  For instance, unrefined peanut oil will smell and taste just like peanuts, while refined peanut oil will have a lighter smell and taste.

When it comes to extremely high heat cooking, always choose oils which are refined.  If, however, you are anxious to have a salad with a rich taste, splurge on the unrefined variety if your palate so desires!

What is your favorite oil to cook with?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Nutrition Tagged with: , , , ,
  • Arlene Miller

    So how does expeller pressed grapeseed oil compare to olive oil? Also why don’t we hear more about grapeseed oil if it so healthy?

  • I love this article(s) regarding fats for cooking!! I believe Coconut oil is the very healthiest oil for cooking and for general use [smoke point 350 degrees unrefined;450 after refining].It provides a direct food energy source to the intestinal cells and liver which improves the health in the intestine,possibly reducing colon cancer.Most of it’s fats are 8,10,12 carbon saturated fats which go straight to the liver and are metabolised,leaving “Ketones”which are a second source of energy for neurons and may reduce the symptoms of such brain diseases as Alzheimer’s[now called ‘type 3 diabetes’] and Parkinson’s.”Accera” is a company marketing a product for Alzheimer’s;’Axona’, an FDA approved medical food which is nothing but Caprilic Acid,an 8 carbon chain saturated fat found in Coconut oil: . See; Dr.Mary Newport on Alzheimer’s and Coconut oil. Also the Coconut Research Center Home Page Your source for accurate onformation on the health and nutritional aspects of coconut, coconut oil, palm, palm oil, and related subjects. – Cached – Similar
    The Fat That Can Make You Thin ; Success Stories ; Why has coconut oil had a bad … ;Articles Research ; Books ; News ; Save the Children ; More results from »

  • Brett

    Arlene, Grapeseed is actually much better for high heat than olive oil. It isn’t listed here…but it is known to have a higher smokepoint.