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Cooking Oils: The Good and the Bad

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Dinner Diva Leanne Ely, CNC: Ever since the first caveman cooked an animal over the fire, there has been cooking oil. Today, various oils are used. And as you can imagine, there are good cooking oils, those that aren't so healthy ... and some that are downright dangerous.

olive oil
Cooking oils mostly come from vegetables. You've seen them in the stores: olive, corn, canola, soy, safflower, avocado, sesame, sunflower, grapeseed, cottonseed, peanut, walnut, almond, coconut, hazelnut and more. Olive oil is among the healthiest of all the cooking oils. This oil offers a good balance of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. I recommend regular olive oil for cooking, and extra virgin olive oil for salads and other uncooked foods. Other healthy oils fall among the nut groups, including coconut. Peanut and walnut oils both have high smoking points and are best used for high-heat cooking. 

On the flip side are the oils that are unhealthy. Canola oil shouldn't be used for human consumption because it's a genetically developed plant from Canada that uses the rapeseed plant as its base -- a known industrial oil used for machinery and such. The word "canola" comes from the words "Canada" and "oil." The rapeseed plant that's used to create canola oil has been found to be toxic to humans and animals. 

The worst bad oil, of course, is any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil; these are cheap fats high in transfats, which wreak havoc in the body. These types of fats should be avoided at all costs. 

The best oils are the ones that are expeller- or cold-pressed. With the exception of any olive oil, all oils should be kept in the fridge to keep their delicate fatty acids intact. Keep their smoke point in mind when cooking, and remember: Extra virgin olive oil should only be used in its raw state, never cooked.

Leanne Ely is the New York Times bestselling author of "Body Clutter" and the "Saving Dinner" series. Her "Dinner Diva" syndicated column appears in 250 newspapers nationwide. Learn how to cook great and save significant money with the Dinner Diva's menus, recipes and shopping lists at

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Chuck November 16, 2010, 7:59 AM

You’re statements regarding canola oil are rife with half-truths and misinformation. Canaol oil was a result of selective breeding to greatly reduce erucic acid not “genetic engineering”.

Read more here

You might consider spending some time researching a subject before spreading lies and half truths.


Anonymous November 16, 2010, 10:05 AM


nutmac November 16, 2010, 1:49 PM

Oh boy, Canola Oil is an email hoax ( Come on!

flashing lights November 16, 2010, 11:48 PM
Cheap Conveyancing  February 15, 2011, 2:16 PM

Thanks a lot for sharing this with all of us you actually know what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my website =). We could have a link exchange contract between us!

Peugeot 106 107 April 8, 2011, 8:45 PM

Great ideas, thanks for making the effort to put it up

peugeots April 9, 2011, 2:23 PM

Lovely post, props to you for making the effort to come up with it

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