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  • Wellness

    Cooking Oil Dangers: Best Cooking Oils and Non-Toxic Practices

    Saute Pan - Header - Lifestyle Cooking Oil

    Choosing the right cooking oil isn't just about flavor—it's crucial for your health and the longevity of your cookware. Whether you're crisping tofu in a stainless steel pan or gently simmering garlic in ceramic, the smoke point of the oil you use can make all the difference.

    This article will guide you through the best oils for different cooking needs, explaining why some oils thrive under heat while others falter and how you can maximize taste and nutritional value in your kitchen.

    Understanding Cooking Oils and Heat

    The concept of a "smoke point" is key when selecting cooking oils. This is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke, breaking down its structure and releasing chemicals that can ruin the flavor of your food and be harmful to your health.

    Cooking oils vary greatly in their smoke points, so choosing the right one for your cooking method is essential.

    High Heat Cooking

    For high-heat methods like searing or frying, oils with higher smoke points are necessary. These oils can withstand the temperature required to perfectly brown a steak without smoking or degrading, thus preserving the integrity of both your dish and your pans.

    Low Heat Cooking

    Conversely, if you're using a ceramic-coated pan for gentle sautéing or to cook delicate items that require lower temperatures, choosing an oil with a lower smoke point, rich in flavor and health benefits, becomes important. These oils can enhance dishes without overpowering them and are typically richer in beneficial nutrients that high heat might destroy.

    Stock Pot - Navy Ceramic - Lifestyle Kitchen

    What Are the Best Oils for High-Heat Cooking?

    When the heat is on, not all oils are created equal. High-heat cooking, such as searing, grilling, or stir-frying, demands oils that can handle the temperature without breaking down.

    Here's a look at the best oils for these cooking methods and how they contribute to a heart-healthy diet.

    Avocado Oil

    Avocado oil is a champion for high-heat cooking. With a smoke point of around 520°F (271°C), it's one of the highest available. This makes it ideal for searing meats or roasting vegetables at high temperatures.

    Rich in monounsaturated fats and slightly nutty in flavor, avocado oil not only boosts the taste of your dishes but also offers health benefits like improved heart health and enhanced absorption of important antioxidants.

    Peanut Oil

    Popular in Asian and American cuisines, peanut oil has a high smoke point (about 450°F or 232°C) that makes it suitable for deep frying and grilling.

    It has a neutral flavor that doesn't interfere with the taste of the food, making it perfect for dishes where maintaining the original flavor profile is key. Peanut oil is also a good source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that can help protect your body from free radicals.

    Sesame Oil

    While there are two main types---light and toasted---light sesame oil has a higher smoke point, around 410°F (210°C), and is excellent for sautéing and stir-frying. Toasted sesame oil, typically used for its pronounced flavor, is better suited for low-heat cooking or finishing dishes but can be mixed with high-smoke-point oils for flavor in high-heat applications.

    Sesame oil is prized for its flavor and its array of health benefits, including a good balance of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, which promote heart health.

    Canola Oil

    Canola oil is another versatile oil with a relatively high smoke point of about 400°F (204°C). It's often used for frying and baking.

    It's low in saturated fat and contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. Canola oil's mild flavor and light viscosity make it a favorite for cooking without altering the taste of ingredients.

    Rondeau - White Ceramic - Lifestyle Frying Food

    Which Oils Are Best for Low-Heat Cooking and Ceramic Pans?

    At Caraway, our ceramic-coated pans are prized for their non-toxic, non-stick properties, making them an excellent choice for low-heat cooking. When using them, it's important to select oils that complement the gentle cooking process and enhance the nutritional value of your food.

    Here are some of the best oils for low-heat methods, such as sautéing, drizzling, and gentle simmering.

    Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

    Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for low to medium-heat cooking, with a smoke point around 375°F (190°C). EVOO is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that protect your body from cellular damage, and oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that supports heart health and helps reduce inflammation. Its robust flavor makes it ideal for salad dressings or drizzling over dishes to add a Mediterranean flair that not only elevates taste but also wellness.

    Coconut Oil

    With a smoke point of approximately 350°F (177°C), coconut oil is suited for moderate heat and adds a tropical hint to dishes. It's composed largely of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), known for their energy-boosting properties and ability to support healthy cholesterol levels. Whether you're sautéing veggies or preparing a curry, coconut oil can introduce a subtle sweetness and a wealth of health benefits.

    Walnut Oil

    While walnut oil has a relatively low smoke point, making it unsuitable for high heat, it thrives in low-heat cooking where its delicate, nutty essence can shine through without burning. Walnut oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3s, which are essential for heart health and reducing inflammation. Use it to finish off pasta dishes or whisk into a dressing for added flavor and a boost of heart-healthy fats.

    Flaxseed Oil

    Flaxseed oil, often used in cold dishes or added at the end of cooking, has a very low smoke point and should not be heated. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), flaxseed oil is fantastic for drizzling over finished dishes or blending into smoothies to enhance their nutritional profile. Its benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing inflammation, and lowering the risk of heart disease.

    Oils To Avoid Due to Toxic Byproducts

    While many oils offer health benefits and enhance the flavor of your food, some should be used cautiously or avoided altogether in high-heat cooking due to the risk of producing harmful byproducts.

    Understanding which oils can become detrimental under heat is a smart move for maintaining a healthy cooking environment.

    Highly Refined Seed Oils

    Oils like sunflower, corn, and some types of safflower and grapeseed oils are often highly refined and have high polyunsaturated fat content. These oils can oxidize when exposed to high temperatures, leading to the formation of harmful free radicals.

    Regular consumption of oxidized fats can increase inflammation in the body and raise the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

    Partially Hydrogenated Oils

    These oils contain trans fats, which are particularly harmful to heart health. Trans fats increase LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL ("good") cholesterol, exacerbating the risk of heart disease. Although many countries have restrictions on the use of trans fats, they can still be found in some processed foods and cooking oils.

    Saute Pan - Marigold Ceramic - Lifestyle Frying Egg

    Non-Toxic Practices in Cooking With Oils

    Using cooking oils safely and effectively is just as important as selecting the right type. Here are some non-toxic practices that ensure you get the most out of your oils without compromising on safety or health.

    Choosing the Right Oil for the Cooking Method

    Match the oil's smoke point with the cooking method to prevent degradation of the oil. Use high-smoke-point oils for frying or searing and save low-smoke-point oils for dressings or light sautéing.

    Proper Storage of Oils

    Keep oils in a cool, dark place to prevent oxidation. Oils should be stored in airtight containers away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Proper storage extends the life of the oil and maintains its health properties and flavor.

    Routine Replacement

    Oils do not last indefinitely; they can become rancid over time. Rancid oils have a noticeable off smell and taste and should be discarded as they can contain harmful oxidized fats. Regularly check your oils for any signs of spoilage and replace them as needed.


    Choosing the right cooking oil and adopting non-toxic cooking practices are more than just culinary choices but investments in your long-term health. By selecting oils appropriate for different cooking temperatures, storing them correctly, and using cookware that supports your healthy diet, you empower yourself to make meals that are beneficial for your body and delicious for your palate.

    At Caraway, we are committed to supporting your journey toward a healthier lifestyle with cookware that aligns with these values. Explore our range, perfect your cooking techniques, and step into a healthier, more flavorful world of culinary delights.


    Understanding cooking oil smoke points | About Olive Oil 

    Can You Use Avocado Oil For Cooking? | LinkedIn

    Peanuts as functional food: a review | PMC 

    Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) | PMC

    Omega-3 fats - Good for your heart | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia 

    Is extra-virgin olive oil extra healthy? | Harvard Health 

    Triglycerides of medium-chain fatty acids: a concise review | PMC

    Walnut Oil - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics 

    Benefits of Flaxseed Oil | Cleveland Clinic 

    Facts about trans fats | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

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