What is the safest oil for sauteeing and baking?

I have read in multiple places that canola oil is pretty much toxic. I don't want to use coconut oil because of the saturated fat (I have genetically high cholesterol). Are walnut oil and extra light olive oil safe for general baking and sauteeing?

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Reiney
Reiney May 15, 2012

Extra light olive oil is in my view a waste of money and offers no flavour - you might as well search out non-GMO canola. Walnut oil is going to give you a particular flavour that may or may not be what you want.

My recommendation is to look for either grapeseed oil or rice bran oil. Both are considered healthier have higher smoke points than olive (another factor in health as well as successful cooking). You can also dilute a good quality olive oil with grapeseed or rice bran if you want a lighter olive oil flavour.

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a Whole Foods Market Customer

Thank you....my concern with virgin olive oil is the smoke point. That's why I was wondering about extra light olive oil. I will look into grapeseed and rice bran oils.

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Susan Boyles
Susan Boyles May 15, 2012

I agree with grape seed - neutral in flavor, clear in color, and takes the heat pretty well.

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Shuna Lydon
Shuna Lydon May 15, 2012

I like to source Canola, Corn, Safflower, Sunflower, Grapeseed, Rice Bran etc. and other "neutral" oils in my local health food store to ensure they've been processed as little as possible &/or are not GMO. I have never heard Canola is poisonous but I'm not radical in that regard. Walnut and nut oils in general are wonderful tasting but should not be used for cooking-- they are "finishing" oils because their flavor is light and will be decimated when applied to heat. I tend to use olive oil for all my cooking at home, but I'm not frying in it.

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ChefOno
ChefOno May 15, 2012

The Internet is full of conjecture and nonsense and it's only getting worse. This issue, like many other health fears, fed by e-mail terrorists and people with products to sell, are so close to religion that I really shouldn't wade into it. But it really angers me that, instead of enjoying our food, we're being told we have to worry and fret about every ingredient.

Canola oil is not toxic.

You shouldn't take my word for that any more than you should believe 1/100 of what you read online. But you should believe, for example, the Mayo Clinic:

https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/canola-oil/AN01281

That said, many chefs avoid canola oil because it stinks like old fish at temperature. At least it does to me. The ability to detect the smell is apparently genetic. That must be true because none other than Thomas Keller uses the stuff.

Allow me to suggest peanut oil for consideration. High smoke point, neutral taste, medium body.

Note: If you're looking to avoid toxicity, you might want to stay away from imported rice bran oil. There's a company in California making it now, there may be other domestic sources. It's not even close to cheap but it's versatile.
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pierino
pierino May 15, 2012

Oh, come on ChefOno if it's out there on the internet it must be true! I'm comfortable using canola as needed but I agree with grapeseed also. Peanut oil does have a high smoke point (and I use it all the time) but it does carry some flavor baggage, not exactly a neutral taste to me.

ChefOno
ChefOno May 16, 2012

Like most culinary oils, peanut is available with different degrees of refinement, ranging from raw what's-on-top-of-a-jar-of-peanut-butter to what I use. I suspect therein lies the key to why you don't find it completely neutral.
Sam1148
Sam1148 May 16, 2012

Canolia does smell like fish to me when used for frying.
That said I avoid GMO foods---not because health concerns, but I don't like Monsanto having a EULA for plants.

I'm sometimes reminded of the Woody Allen's "Sleeper" where he wakes up and they feed him a steak saying "everything we thought was bad for you is now good for you"

Remember the fat scare of the 70's when everyone switched to Margarine and substituted good ol' butter with high trans-fat whipped stuff just to avoid the fat. Bad move.

ChefOno
ChefOno May 16, 2012

Fortunately I avoided that whole margarine thing as my parents had a negative opinion of it, having been though the early period when dairy farmers had enough political clout that artificial butter couldn't be artificially colored (it was white like Crisco and came with a packet of food coloring that you could mix in yourself if you wanted). Can you imagine how the general public would respond if that were the case today? Butter, yum! Lard rules!
petitbleu
petitbleu May 16, 2012

I also really like safflower oil for baking.

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Shalini
Shalini May 16, 2012

I like grapeseed oil too. Here's one that I like: http://maisonorphee.com/en/products/classic-line/grapeseed-oil/

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a Whole Foods Market Customer

I buy grape seed oil made in Italy from Trader Joes, reasonable, neutral taste and high smoke point. I wanted to be sure it was non-GMO so I wrote to Trader Joes and this was the response: "If it's in the Trader Joe's brand label, it is made from non-GMO ingredients. We have source certification from our suppliers, and we conduct random testing to ensure all products in the Trader Joe's label are made from non-Genetically Engineered ingredients." For the responder who said she didn't want to fret about ingredients, I suggest a book called The China Study which includes hundreds of research studies that show how lowering dairy consumption and animal fats can keep your heart healthier and your body cancer free. I just witnessed my mom die of pancreatic cancer and her mom died of it too. I will make simple changes that will improve my quality and quantity of life....my life is worth it. Yours is worth it too.

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a Whole Foods Market Customer

My info on the canola oil being toxic wasn't from random websites. It was from The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book by Jessica K. Black, N.D. She makes a good argument for avoiding canola oil and peanut oil. I have seen similar info on canola oil in other sources as well. The grapeseed oil sounds like a good alternative. I have read The China Study that cookingkareninnv refers to--I avoid dairy as much as possible after reading that book. Hence, butter is not an option.

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Colt
Colt December 12, 2014

Peanut oil has a profile very similar to olive oil as far as healthy fats and very stable at high temps. There are rare peanut allergies which result in rather noticeable signs. Olive oil, safflower, peanut and coconut are some of the best oils and should be added to the diet regularly. Do not use any corn or soy products unless they are certified organic. Also add CLA supplements to your diet as they have many benefits and are no longer found in the food supply in significant quantities.

As for canola oil(ranamed GMO version of rapeseed oil-- all current rapeseed oil on the market is GMO so BEWARE) is an industrial lubricant. It is super cheap so food factories use it for that reason alone. It has caused severe health problems for workers in those factories. There is also a strong link between canola/rapeseed(the same thing) and mad cow disease. Once they stopped adding rapeseed oil to the food eaten by sheep the mad cow disease stopped. You see cows/cattle were fed sheep meat in their feed. Also canola/rapeseed seems to be highly mutigenic -- a cancer causing agent and not at all good for your cardio. Rats fed diets with canola oil developed severe fatty degeneration of the heart/thyroid/kidneys etc. It is best to stop eating any form of canola oil or rapeseed oil and switch to coconut, olive, safflower and peanut oils. People are surprised to hear cococut oil is good because it's a saturated fat. It is a medium chain triglyceride and is very powerful at correcting diabetes without any big pharma drugs. It protects you from heart disease, diabetes, cancer and helps immensely with other things like constipation- up to 3 tablespoons or even more can halt the worst opiate/morphine caused constipation- having daily green and other fruit and veggie juices is also helpful to an array of things...

ChefOno
ChefOno May 16, 2012

Have you considered that all this "information" comes from people who are trying to sell you something?

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ChefOno
ChefOno May 17, 2012

And does the Mayo Clinic no longer carry any weight as being on the cutting edge of medical science and a reliable source of infomation?

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a Whole Foods Market Customer

Chef Ono, regarding your first question--I could ask you the same thing about what you read and believe, especially regarding meat and dairy. Regarding the second--the Mayo Clinic is very good at treating symptoms and researching cutting edge surgery. How about PREVENTING symptoms? Unfortunately, "cutting edge" medical science in the U.S. often involves treatment, not prevention/wellness.

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ChefOno
ChefOno May 17, 2012

My opinions -- and they are just that -- are based on studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, not from people trying to sell books and promote the latest diet fad.

The science of saturated fats, heart disease, et al is far from settled but recent research has debunked many of the theories we've long accepted as fact, a causal relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol being a prime example.

Knowing what we don't know has allowed me to take what I believe to be a more healthful approach to food. I reject worry and fret over unproven conjecture. I put flavor and enjoyment first. A thick juicy steak may or may not have an effect on my health but stress is a proven killer. If I'm wrong about my philosophy, I will at the very least have enjoyed life as much as possible. I have yet to hear a good argument against that.
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pierino
pierino May 17, 2012

An "amen" to that!!

ChefOno
ChefOno May 17, 2012

Now as for grape seed:

Grape seed oil is mostly polyunsaturated and almost all of that is linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. High consumption of omega-6 oils has been shown to inhibit the body's ability to process alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) fatty acids.

Additionally, grape seed oil oxidizes quickly releasing carcinogenic free radicals in the process. That is an important attribute for storage (keep open bottles in the refrigerator) and it also indicates it is unstable at high temperatures (not a good frying oil despite its high smoke point).

Extra light olive oil would be a better choice.
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a Whole Foods Market Customer

Chef Ono, thank you for you information on the grapeseed oil. I agree with you about the omega-6 fatty acids. American diets are way too high regarding the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. I think I will stick with extra light olive oil in my yeast breads and for sauteeing at medium temperature.
It's true that stress is proven harmful--I think everyone is pretty much in agreement about that. I love dairy and certain meat products and have found it difficult to cut way back on them. However, I would rather sacrifice some of the things I enjoy eating in favor of better QUALITY of life when I am older, rather than eat anything I want now and either have a shorter life or spend the last 30 years of it in constant misery due to diseases and ailments that could have been avoided or lessened. There is a lot of research about the connection between food and inflammation in the body, too much to be ignored, and it isn't all in "fad diet books". My doctors suggested the dietary restrictions I have chosen to follow, and they also follow them in their own homes. No, a steak once in a great while isn't going to kill anyone, but there is a lot of research out there that indicates making it a regular part of your diet isn't good for you. However, to each his/her own.

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a Whole Foods Market Customer

Hey people, to accuse the originator of this question (Jeanine) of stressing out for just asking a question about oils well....who is really stressing here? True. It is very hard to determine what is a fad diet or another money-making scheme. Examine the money trail (author backgrounds and connections) and also watch who documents and references their claims and then really read some of their references. But then, that is stressful too. Being healthy in the US today is a challenge. It may take a little work. However, the pay-offs are a lifetime of energy and health and hopefully, a positive outlook on life too. At least that is what I see from the truly healthy people I know. Hopefully, all of you on this blog are just trying to be helpful to others and sharing your experiences. A good debate is healthy for the mind.

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ChefOno
ChefOno May 17, 2012

I don't believe anybody accused anyone here of anything. My issue is with fearmongers trying to sell books and the damage they do in the process. Otherwise I agree -- debate, whether we eventually come to an agreement or chose different paths, is a good thing.

Incidentally, it's impossible to tell with whom we're corresponding as your post(s) are tagged "s Whole Foods Market Customer".
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M
M December 12, 2014

Olive oil is safe! http://chriskresser.com/is-it-safe-to-cook-with-olive-oil
And animal fats are totally fine too http://chriskresser.com/5-fats-you-should-be-cooking-with-but-may-not-be

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