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Healthiest oils | How to choose a healthy cooking oil

28 February, 2018
Healthy oils

Oils are not created equal

If you’re looking for your meals to be a little more nutritious, delicious, and heart-healthy, you can start by making an informed choice on what oil you want to line your pan or pot with.

For those of you who know their way around an oatmeal pancake or a slow-cooked apple granola, you’ll already understand that different dishes benefit from different oils.

We’ve gathered the five healthiest from the bunch, what style of cooking their best used for, and what bad oils they can be substituted for.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The all-time oil champion and cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil, especially the extra virgin variety, is great for your health.

Benefits of extra virgin olive oil

What kind of cooking can olive oil be used for?

Pretty much anything! Olive oil is still safe at temperatures around 190-215 degrees Celsius, so you can use it to pan fry, bake, or as a dressing.

Oils to avoid

Canola, flax or peanut oils – these are normally heavily processed and contain higher levels of bad fats.


Unrefined coconut oil

The information around coconut oil has chopped and changed more than a frittata through a blender. Its initial surge came with claims that it was (yet another) superfood with amazing properties that went beyond simply consuming it. As time has gone on, the myths have been shed and the science has been better explored, and we’re confident to give it the tick (for now).

Benefits of unrefined coconut oil

What kind of cooking can unrefined coconut oil be used for?

Because it’s so high in good fats, unrefined coconut oil is solid at room temperature and has a smoking temperature of around 177 degrees Celsius. It’s coconut flavour can help complement desserts and stir fries, so give it a try next time you’ve got the wok out.

Oils to avoid

Seed oils – while they might taste delicious and really bring out the flavour of Asian dishes, seed oils are normally far too rich in omega-6 fatty acids and go through heavy refining processes.



Like coconut oil, butter has been in and out of favour for years, mostly due to the sugar industries conspiracy to demonise fat. Now that we’re aware of the benefits of fat, we’re able to bring back (reasonable amounts) of that full butter flavour to our meals.

Note: we mean butter – real butter. Not margarine or a spreadable. Be sure to read the ingredients on the packet.

Benefits of butter

What kind of cooking can butter be used for?

Butter has a smoking point of around 176 degrees Celsius, and it’s rich, full, caramel-like flavours that it releases make it perfect for baking desserts or for breakfast preparation. It’ll work great with oatmeal pancakes or sweet potato waffles.

Oils to avoid

Margarine – margarine is usually full of trans fats (the bad kind) and needs a heavy amount of processing to create. It may be worthwhile considering switching from margarine to butter.

All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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