The healthiest oils are olive oil and coconut oil. The most nutritional value can be found in unrefined oils classified as “extra virgin”. However, you should take into account cooking temperature for intended use. Under 325 degrees, it’s safe to use unrefined oils. Above that, unrefined oils break down and create oxidized fats which are very unhealthy. For higher temperatures, use refined or “pure” oils. Spectrum is a brand that clearly spells out how each type of oil is best used for cooking. They provide further information on their website at spectrumorganics.com.
Sometimes you don't get what you pay for. Not all olive oil is created equal. Author Tom Mueller uncovers the disturbing truths of olive oil producers in his book "Extra Virginity". It seems we can no longer rely on the common indicators for what makes a high quality extra virgin olive oil, and what might be heavily processed. He offers a few tips on choosing higher quality oils. Better yet, Tom has posted a list of brands he's reviewed on his Extra Virginity Blog. While he admits it's a work in progress, it's likely you'll find a few of these in your local supermarket.
Omega-3 (never used for cooking) is another oil essential to health. We cover it in more detail in our Omega-3 supplement section.
It's best to stay away from soybean and canola oils due to the high likelihood that they're genetically modified. There is much debate as to their nutritional benefits as well. With other available options that yield similar flavor, there's little reason to use these oils.
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