Fats and Oils are very controversial. The rules keep changing and many are confused to the point of disregarding any aspects or advice on fats and oils.
One of the problems is that there are so many different kinds of fats and many criteria within each fat that today it is considered important in understanding if you want to have some control of your diet and menu.
The term fat is generally interpreted as a solid substance at room temperature which has properties of greasiness and can be cooked with as a frying agent or as an additive to certain recipes. Oils are the same except that oils are liquids at room temperature. Fats and oils have identical criteria in the definition of the type of compound it is.
Another term that come into the language of fats and oils is "Lipid". In fact Lipid is the umbrella term for these compounds. Cholesterol is a lipid but to make it a little more complex there are a few classes of cholesterol, two of which are commonly referred to by the general public and an understanding that these are some indication of health or risk. The two commonly referred to cholesterols are the so called HDL-Cholesterol and the LDL-Cholesterol. The HDL cholesterol is often referred to as the good cholesterol and LDL Cholesterol conversely referred to as the bad cholesterol. To simplify the numbers medical science has derived a single ratio of Total Cholesterol divided by HDL Cholesterol, this then becomes an index of the bad LDL-Cholesterol; thus there is only one figure to interpret.
Saturated fats have the higher smoke points of the lipids and of recent times it has been suggested that fats and oils should not be heated to their smoking points because this changes some of the structure or chemistry of these lipids and is thought to be a responsible element in forming atheroma or plaques in our arteries. The higher the smoke point, the safer is the heating margin particularly for frying and deep frying. Saturated fats themselves aren't considered the healthiest fats or oils for use at lower temperatures. The unsaturated or partly saturated oils are considered the safer. Many saturated compounds are converted to partly saturated compounds by controlled chemical reactions. Unfortunately it took some time to realise that there were hazards to our health from some of these derived fats. To confuse the issue of partly saturated oils these tend to have the lowest storage stability and even oxidise at room temperature in their bottles. The oxidation products are considered unhealthy.
The use of Trans fats is understood to be dangerous. (Trans and Cis are the two complementary possible configurations when hydrogenating saturated fats. ) Today though there is an awareness and legislation banning most of these trans fats in the USA. Foods and fats must be labelled with the amount of trans fats. Unfortunately this doesn't apply to foods with less than 5% of TFA. This is because of analytical uncertainty at this level and a lack of standardisation in measurement. But generally speaking the fats and oils commonly sold have only traces of TFA except for some margarin products and unfortunately animal fats such as Lard and Tallow have about 3% TFA. At this stage it is unclear if "natural" meat TFA is different i.e. safe compared to the synthesised oils or fats with TFA.
By clicking on any of the titles, the Table will be sorted in ascending order on that column.
|Oil/Fat||Sat'd||Monos||Polys||Smoke Point||TFA [gm/T]||Uses|
|Almond||8%||66%||26%||221 °C (430 °F)||0||Baking, sauces, flavoring|
|Avocado||12%||74%||14%||271 °C (520 °F)||0||Frying, sautéing, dipping oil, salad oil|
|Butter||66%||30%||4%||150 °C (302 °F)||0.3||Cooking, baking, condiment, sauces, flavoring|
|Ghee||65%||32%||3%||210 ºC (410 °F)||0.3||Deep frying, cooking, sautéeing, condiment, flavoring|
|Canola Oil||6%||62%||32%||242 °C (468 °F)||0 to 0.6||Frying, baking, salad dressings|
|Coconut oil||92%||6%||2%||177 °C (351 °F)||0||Commercial baked goods, candy and sweets, whipped toppings, nondairy coffee creamers, shortening|
|Rice Bran oil||20%||47%||33%||254 °C (489 °F)||0||Cooking, frying, deep frying, salads, dressings. Very clean flavoured and palatable|
|Corn Oil||13%||25%||62%||236 °C (457 °F)||0||Frying, baking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening|
|Cottonseed oil||24%||26%||50%||216 °C (421 °F)||0||Margarine, shortening, salad dressings, commercially fried products|
|Grape seed oil||12%||17%||71%||204 °C (399 °F)||0||Cooking, salad dressings, margarine|
|Lard||41%||47%||2%||170 °C (338 °F)||0.2||Baking, frying|
|Margarine, hard||80%||14%||6%||150 °C (302 °F)||2.8||Cooking, baking, condiment|
|Diacylglycerol (DAG) oil||4%||38%||59%||215 °C (419 °F)||0||Frying, baking, salad oil|
|Olive oil (extra virgin)||14%||73%||11%||190 °C (374 °F)||0||Cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Olive oil (virgin)||14%||73%||11%||215 °C (419 °F)||0||Cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Olive oil (refined)||14%||73%||11%||225 °C (437 °F)||0||Sautee, stir frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Olive oil (extra light)||14%||73%||11%||242 °C (468 °F)||0||Sautee, stir frying, frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Palm oil||52%||38%||10%||230 °C (446 °F)||0||Cooking, flavoring, vegetable oil, shortening|
|Peanut oil||18%||49%||33%||231 °C (448 °F)||0||Frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Safflower oil||10%||13%||77%||265 °C (509 °F)||0||Cooking, salad dressings, margarine|
|Sesame oil (Unrefined)||14%||43%||43%||177 °C (351 °F)||0||Cooking|
|Sesame oil (semi-refined)||14%||43%||43%||232 °C (450 °F)||0||Cooking, deep frying|
|Soybean oil||15%||24%||61%||241 °C (466 °F)||0||Cooking, salad dressings, vegetable oil, margarine, shortening|
|Sunflower oil (linoleic)||11%||20%||69%||246 °C (475 °F)||0||Cooking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening|
|Walnut oil (Unrefined)||9%||22%||61%||160 °C (320 °F)||0||cooking, salad dressings|
|Walnut oil (Refined)||9%||22%||61%||204 °C (400 °F)||0||Cooking, salad dressings|
|Tallow (Beef)||50%||42%||4%||220 °C (420 °F)||0.4||Cooking|
|Tallow (Mutton)||50%||41%||9%||204 °C (400 °F)||0.4||Cooking|
|Macadamia Oil||14%||85%||4%||210 °C (410 °F)||0||Salad dressings|
Sat'd: Fat Saturation
Monos: Mono-unsaturation amount
Polys: Poly-unsaturated amount
TFA: Trans Fatty Acids
storage of cooking oils
Cooking oils aren't stable indefinitely. Polyunsaturated oils are less stable than saturated oils and become rancid fairly quickly. The three elements that cause rancidity are oxygen, light and heat so that storage should minimise the oil's contact with these agents.
To minimise light effects the oil can be stored in dark containers and for larger volumes you will notice that metal cans are chosen. This prevents all light coming into contact with the oil.
Heat effects can also be simply managed by storing the oils in cool areas. Refrigeration is often used and although this increases the viscosity this can be managed by bringing the oil out of refrigeration for a period before pouring.
Oxygen is minimised by storing the oil in impervious containers. Either metal or glass is superior to PET bottles which are most often the container these oils are sold in.