Woman looking at oils

What is the Healthiest Cooking Oil (And Which Ones to Avoid)?

The healthiest cooking oils are unrefined and rich in healthy, unsaturated fats.

When cooking a delicious, healthy meal, it’s easy to focus on the main ingredients or spices you’ll use for flavor. But the oil you choose to cook with is an equally important factor.

Cooking oil is a dietary fat that’s as essential to preparing food as it is versatile. It allows you to cook and bake a variety of dishes and can be used to dress salads, make marinades, and more. Cooking oil also provides the necessary healthy fat you need to create balanced meals.

This article discusses the healthiest cooking oils, which ones to use when cooking certain foods, and two cooking oils to avoid.

What Makes Cooking Oil Healthy?

Chef preparing meal

Healthy Fats

It may seem counterintuitive to cook healthy meals with fat, but the best cooking oils contain healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

These unsaturated fats can improve cholesterol levels and may help lower disease risk. Your body does not need a lot of fat to be healthy, so when you include fat in your diet, you should make it count by consuming unsaturated fats.

What to Consider When Choosing Your Cooking Oil

Chef drizzling oil over meal

Smoke Point

The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it will start to smoke, indicating that it is no longer stable. It is best not to cook with oil when heated to a temperature above its smoke point.

Oils with a low smoke point are better for drizzling on food or using in a salad dressing.

Refined vs. Unrefined

Refined oils are chemically extracted. They tend to be less expensive than unrefined and have higher smoke points. However, refined oils lose some of their nutrients during their extraction process.

Unrefined oils contain more nutrients but have lower smoke points. They also tend to have a shorter shelf life.

Cooking Spray vs. From a Bottle

Cooking spray tends to be less cost effective and of lesser quality than most bottled oils. Many of these products contain a mixture of oils and natural or artificial flavorings plus other ingredients like antifoaming agents and propellants.

Your best bet is to avoid anything that has added ingredients other than oil.

What is the Healthiest Cooking Oil?

Lineup of several healthy oils

Cooking Oils:

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. It is also high in oleic acid, which may help to lower cholesterol.

How to cook with it

Avocado oil has a very mild flavor, making it a good choice for both cooking and baking. It also has a high smoke point at 520°F so you can use it for sauteing, roasting and grilling. This oil is quite versatile and can also be used for dressings.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This oil is rich in monounsaturated fat phytonutrients and even has some anti-inflammatory properties.

It is unrefined, meaning it has more nutrients, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fats than light olive oil. Rich in vitamin E, extra virgin olive oil has antioxidant properties and can also increase good cholesterol.

How to cook with it

Olive oil has a smoke point of about 350° F. It’s incredibly versatile for sauteing or baking up to 350°. It can also be used for dressings or to add a finishing touch to a dish.

Unrefined coconut oil

Unrefined coconut oil is a great natural source of MCT oil, which is a good source of energy and is more easily digested than other fatty acids. It has a smoke point of 350° F. It may also help promote the feeling of fullness.

While high in saturated fat, the amount recommended by GOLO isn’t significant enough to deter you from using it. It also has many alleged health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

Shopping for coconut oil can be confusing as there are a lot of choices on the shelves. You should avoid purchasing liquid coconut oil. This product is highly processed and has less of the important fatty acids that make coconut oil a healthy choice.

You can save money by skipping the ‘Organic’ and ‘Non-GMO’ labels. Although we usually recommend both organic and non-GMO, when possible, coconuts aren’t shown to have significant pesticide residue (so organic is not as important) and there are currently no known genetically modified coconut varieties so even if you see this on a label, don’t pay more for it!

Finishing Oils:

Walnut oil

Walnut oil is an unrefined oil with a rich, nutty flavor. It has a lower smoke point at 320° F, so it should not be used for most cooking but adds an excellent flavor to salad dressings, sauces or finished dishes.

This oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It is also high in antioxidants that support healthy thyroid function, memory and can help lower blood sugar levels.

Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains alpha-linolenic acid, which may help lower blood pressure.

Flaxseed oil has a very low smoke point of 225° F, so while it’s not ideal for cooking, it’s great for dressings, dips, and smoothies.

Which Cooking Oils Should You Avoid?

Vegetable oil

Although it sounds healthy, this oil is anything but. Vegetable oil contains trans fats and very large amounts of biologically active fats called omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation when consumed in excess. Inflammation can damage cells and contribute to many serious health conditions.

Corn oil

Like vegetable oil, corn oil is also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause inflammation. This oil also tends to be made with genetically modified corn and is highly refined

Not Just for Cooking

You don’t have to restrict your oil use to just cooking. Start using them for salads or drizzle them on bread or mozzarella and tomatoes. Not only does it add extra flavor to your meals, but there are added health benefits.

Olive oil and avocado oil can increase the antioxidant content and enhance absorption of antioxidants on salad.

Make your own GOLO salad dressing and test some different healthy oils depending on your taste. 

Visit GOLO.com to access all the weight loss tools GOLO has to offer!

1-800-730-GOLO(4656) support@golo.com

GOLO is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any illness or disease. This blog provides general information and discussion about health and wellness related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. GOLO encourages you to consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. All opinions and articles linked to and from this page are those of the individuals concerned and do not necessarily represent those of GOLO, LLC or its employees. No responsibility can be accepted for any action you take or refrain from taking as a result of viewing this page. GOLO will not be liable for any errors, losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.


Legal for blog with exercise tips or routines

This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment or for athletic training or nutrition. Consult with your physician and follow all safety instructions before beginning a new health or fitness program, especially if you're overweight, elderly, or have an existing injury. You are participating at your own risk and GOLO is not responsible for any injury or harm you may sustain.