Food trends take the industry by storm every year. As of recently, it’s all about cooking oils. Some claiming to prevent cancer, weight gain, and everything in between. But it’s time to break down the health benefits, true or untrue, and find out what makes them the current craze.

Cooking Oils
Cooking oils can be broken down into three common types of fats:

Saturated Fats
Saturated fats come mainly from animal fats, but are also prevalent in plants like coconut and palm oils. These fats are solid at room temperature.

Monounsaturated Fats
These fats are liquid at room temperature and are used to help reduce bad cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that omega-3s reduce inflammation and help lower the risk of several chronic diseases. However, polyunsaturated oils predominantly contain omega-6s, and cause inflammation. While omega-6s are essential in your diet, the average person eats an excess of omega 6s and not nearly enough omega 3s, creating an imbalance that leads to poor health.

Macadamia Nut Oil
12.5% saturated fat
83.5% monounsaturated fat
4% polyunsaturated fat

Macadamia nut oil is composed primarily of omega-3 fatty acids, with the highest percentage of monounsaturated fat than any other natural product. The smoke point for macadamia nut oil is 390 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a long shelf life, staying good for about two years, even after opening.
Health Score: A

Olive Oil
14% saturated fat
77% monounsaturated fat
9% polyunsaturated fat

The smoke point for olive oil depends on what kind you’re using:
Extra Virgin: 320 degrees
Virgin: 420 degrees
Pomace: 460 degrees
Extra Light: 468 degrees
The fat breakdown for olive oil varies based on what kind you’re using, but for the most part, the nutritional value remains relatively close to one another. Olive oil is suitable for both cooking and cold use.
Health Score: A-

Avocado Oil
20% saturated fat
70% monounsaturated fat
10% polyunsaturated fat

Avocado oil has a really high smoke point of 520 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it one of the best oils for high-heat cooking. It’s used similarly to olive oil because it can be used for cooking or cold use. And it’s considered a high-quality oil, as it supplies a good dose of vitamin E, alpha and beta-carotene, and lutein.
Health Score: A

Coconut Oil
92% saturated fat
6% monounsaturated fat
2% polyunsaturated fat

The 2 percent polyunsaturated fat in coconut oil makes it very resistant to oxidation when exposed to heat. Although the saturated fat makes it better for cooking, make sure to cook it at lower heats, as it has a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coconut oil is also really popular in weight loss plans due to its high percentage of medium chain triglycerides (MTCs). Because MTCs absorb passively, they increase satiety, boost energy expenditure, and improve blood lipid profiles.
Health Score: B+

Red Palm Oil
12% saturated fat
17% monounsaturated fat
71% polyunsaturated fat

Red palm oil has a 1:1 ratio of saturated fat and monounsaturated fat. It also contains more beta-carotene, vitamin E, and tocotrienols than any other oil currently on the market. The downfall of red palm oil is that its orchards intrude on rainforests around the world. Many managements and industries are currently working to fix this, and implement sustainable practices.
Health Score: C-

Safflower Oil
10% saturated fat
13% monounsaturated fat
78% polyunsaturated fat

Safflower oil has a smoke point of 450 degree Fahrenheit. Even with its high smoke point, this oil is unsuitable for high-heat cooking due to its large makeup of polyunsaturated fats and consequently omega-6 fatty acids. Similar to grapeseed oil, it should never be used with heat and only used sparingly as a dressing.
Health Score: D

Grapeseed Oil
12% saturated fat
17% monounsaturated fat
71% polyunsaturated fat

Grapeseed oil is often promoted as a healthy cooking oil due to its relatively high smoke point of 392 degrees Fahrenheit. But with such a high percentage of polyunsaturated fat, it’s extremely reactive to heat and quickly produces free radicals that can cause irritation and inflammation. If you’re using grapeseed oil, be sure to never cook with it, even at a low temperature, and use it sparingly as a dressing.
Health Score: D+

iFit Trainer
Emily Wiley