My general food motto is everything in moderation. Cooking oils are no exception. There tend to be many different viewpoints on what oils are good/bad/should be most regularly consumed. My hope is to shed light on the topic and provide you the information to choose what oils you cook with.
The main oils I will be addressing in this post are:
Olive oil is high in antioxidants (which fight off free-radicals), thus has been known to reduce inflammation, benefit brain and memory function, and overall help the whole body! (3).
It is high in monosaturated fats. Monosaturated fats support your heart function (3).
It is high in vitamin E & K (10).
There are really no negative health impacts from olive oil. However, there is some controversy over olive oil's smoke point. In the past, it was known for its low smoke point, but now some are saying that may not be all that important.
Avocado oil is full of monounsaturated fats, antioxidants (both of which are good for the heart!) and has a higher smoke point (8).
Avocado oil has a relatively neutral flavor (making it good for baking) and can be used for a 1:1 ratio swap for canola oil.
Because it is a newer oil, it is less/unregulated. Because it is unregulated, it makes it simple for companies to make false claims (5). A recent study came out saying many avocado oils were tested and they found some were mixed with other oils, and yet a few weren't even avocado oil! (5).
It tends to be a bit pricier.
Enhances the taste of your food if you are going for a rich, creamy, coconutty flavor.
Is a more natural option -- meaning it is rarely genetically modified.
It is not high in antioxidants, nor does it have a positive impact on blood sugar levels, or inflammation (1).
It is higher in saturated fat and has more saturated fat than butter. Saturated fat may increase your HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), but also may raise your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Too high levels of LDL cholesterol raises your risk of heart disease.
Many put coconut oil in their smoothies. I'd encourage you to opt for other healthy fats like avocado, yogurt, cheese, nuts, nut butter...etc.
Although there only a few pros for consuming coconut oil, there are lots of pros for using coconut oil topically, but, that's a whole other topic ;)
It is low in erucic acid, which has been known to be damaging to our heart (3).
It has a high smoke point, a neutral flavor (making it good for baking & cooking), and is inexpensive.
Canola oil is high in omega-six. In the past, this was seen as positive, but now we know too much omega-6 in our diet leads to systemic inflammation, which is a common thread amongst all chronic diseases (3). To learn more about the negative impacts of consuming too much omega-6, read the blog post I recently wrote here.
The majority of canola oils are genetically modified (3).
Canola is refined, which means it may be "partially hydrogenated to increase its stability- this increases its level of trans fats (6) and in turn, increases its negative health effects on the body. Trans fats are to be avoided as often as possible as they’re scientifically known to increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol" (8).
It may negatively impact our ability to learn and our memory (3).
Rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which benefit your heart (9).
Super flavorful and adds boldness to dishes, especially Asian dishes!
It is not chemically processed, rather it is unrefined and cold-pressed (2).
It has a lower smoke point.
In conclusion, my favorite oil, hands down is olive oil! It positively impacts our health, is well regulated, and simple to find! I also use avocado oil often, but you do want to be careful about what brand you buy. Ultimately, moderation with everything is key. I hope this article was helpful!
To learn more about oils, check out the sources below. To learn more specifically about oils smoke point, check out article 9.