Paleo Plan

Temperature Guide to Get the Best Out of the Best Types of Oil

With so many different types of oils available today, it can be hard to know which ones are the best for your health… Certain oils high in omega 6 fatty acids are not beneficial to us, causing an imbalance of  anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids and inflammatory omega 6′s.  When you cook oils that have high omega 3 OR 6 content, you damage them and they become oxidized and transform into free radicals, which harm the cells in our bodies.

Certain oils are better for you when heated and others should be eaten at room temperature on salads, etc. Among the best oils to cook with and to enhance your meals:

  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Lard
  • Tallow (rendered animal fat)
  • Olive oil
  • Ghee (this is clarified butter for all you dairy eaters)

Here’s an easy-to-follow temperature guide to help you cook with any type of oil:

Oils that tolerate very high temperatures, frying, or browning

The following oils can be used to cook at high temperatures because their good properties will not be lost with the heat.

  • Coconut oil
  • Lard
  • Ghee

Oils that are great for cooking at medium temperature or lightly sautéed

To get the best out of the following oils, you can cook with them at medium temperatures.

  • Olive oil
  • Palm Oil
  • Tallow

Oils that should only be exposed to low temperatures or for baking

The following oils should not be heated at all before eating them. If you apply any heat to them, their properties will be lost and will become harmful to your health.

  • Flax seed oil
  • Fish oil
  • Cod liver oil
  • Nut Oils

In addition to these, all the other oils mentioned above can also be used at room temperature, providing many health benefits and much needed beneficial fats.

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11 Comments

  1. jen masten

    I was wondering about your thoughts on grapeseed oil. I use it for salad dressing and sometimes cook with it.

    • @Jen

      Grapeseed oil is 9.6% saturated, 16.1% monounsaturated and 69.9% polyunsaturated. That’s a lot of unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids to be cooking with, so I wouldn’t mess with it. Among those polyunsaturated fatty acids, none of them is omega 3, meaning you’re just adding to your inflammatory omega 6 load every time you use it. That profile is close to corn oil, actually, so I say don’t eat it very often at all. Hope that helps.

  2. I was just about to ask about grapeseed oil before I saw Jen’s post. Your answer is really shocking to me, as I have been using grapeseed oil to cook with for some time, and I really like the slightly nutty flavor that it adds to food. It has a very high smoke point, too, so it makes it an easy (if not ideal) choice for cooking. It was recommended to me by a chef who does nutritional healing. My own research on it indicated it had almost four times the health benefit of olive oil in terms of percentages of beneficial ingredients. It’s not that I doubt your expertise, but what frustrates me is how much contradictory information exists out there. How do you know what to believe?

    • @KSmith – It is very frustrating how much contradictory information is out there. However, it doesn’t really matter what the smoke point of an oil is (or how good it tastes), since even before it ever starts smoking it can be highly damaged. Like I said, its fatty acid profile is susceptible to oxidation, and that’s what they’re finding is one of the main causes of all kinds of chronic inflammatory issues. I’m not sure what to tell you about how you know what to believe, but I can say that the more I study paleo nutrition, the more I find really intuitive answers to all my questions. Good luck to you.

  3. Thanks, Neely, that is quite helpful, actually. So your recommended alternative for general cooking is coconut oil?

    • @KSmith – Well, yes, but also tallow and lard. Don’t be afraid of the animal fats!

  4. Regarding the statement “that’s what they’re finding is one of the main causes of all kkinds of chronic inflammatory issues”, who is “they” and can you share the links to studies or peer reviews that support this information?

    • Hi Noni, Good questions. People from all walks of life, from researchers to doctors to nutritionists, to people who find that they no longer have chronic inflammation when they take out these omega 6 oils. Here’s a really good overarching “>article from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons that covers the idea that omega 6 fatty acids are playing a major role in heart disease. There are plenty more out there if you just dig around.

  5. Hi Neely,

    That link does not seem to be working. Also, while anectodal evidence and subjective findings (he said/she said) are interesting, I am thinking more in terms of controlled studies with objective evidence. I’ll see what I can find since I am not at all convinced that using oils/fats with high sat-fat concentrated is really the healthiest choice out there. Thanks anyway.

    • Hi Noni – Here’s that link again. I hold controlled studies with objective evidence in as high esteem as you seem to. I was simply adding that anecdotal evidence is also compelling. Good luck to you.

  6. Are plantain chips made with palm olein ok?

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