What makes for a good cooking oil? Science, please!


(So much bacon . . . so little time . . .) #1

I was reminded on another thread of a question that popped up for me recently: it appears from one of his Virta videos that Dr. Phinney is now recommending canola oil.

I don’t like most of the available cooking oils; they gum up my frying pans something awful. I started using coconut oil even before I went keto, because it was recommended by the customer complaint operator at the company that made my corn popper, which I had ruined beyond retrieval with Wesson oil (hey—it was cheap!).

Since joining these forums I have been passing on the recommendations about oils that I read here, but after seeing Dr. Phinney’s new video, I did some checking. We say not to use seed oils because of their smoke points, for one thing, but the table I found shows that most of them have far higher smoke points than butter or coconut oil—even olive oil is higher, as I recall, and we definitely advise not cooking with it because of its low smoke point! Yet we recommend coconut oil, with its lower smoke point? If I can find that blasted table of oils again, I will either link it or post it, so you can see what I’m talking about. (Why the fuck I didn’t link it at the fucking time is fucking beyond me, damn it! Fuck!)

So, sorry folks, it is time to revisit our recommendations about oils and double-check the science behind our recommendations. Who wants to start? What say you, @richard?

Yours in search of clarification,


What is wrong with canola oil
Does fasting slow your metabolism
(#inforthelonghaul, KCKO, KCFO) #2

I find the info from this Dr. helpful. She is very well respected in the LCHF community. She used to advise the Lakers basketball team and has since quit her private practice to do research full time. I have not read her book yet but plan to on my next EX days, Deep Nutrition.


(Ron) #3

Was this it?


I use this link as a cheat sheet/reference:

(Regina) #5

I’ve used expeller pressed safflower oil. Does that make it any better than regular safflower oil? I would think so as no chemical solvents are used in the process.


Avocado oil is probably the best I’ve ever used, especially for high heat cooking. Its smoke point is comparable to the seed oils and it’s most certainly better for you! It also works well as a butter substitute in baking for people who can’t tolerate any nuts at all, and can’t use coconut oil. It has no aftertaste that I can detect, even though cold-pressed oil is supposed to have one. Only downside is that it can be quite expensive.

(Chris - Mince meat, not words.) #7

Phinney doesn’t break it down in the video you saw? Can you link it with the timestamp perhaps?

(So much bacon . . . so little time . . .) #8

Ron, I’ve seen that graph, and I think Phinney actually used it, or a version of it, in one of his LCDU presentations on YouTube. But it’s not the chart I’m thinking of, which had more information, such as smoke point and the exact breakdown of the PUFA’s in the oil. I’ll keep looking. I thought the chart I’m thinking of was from Wikipedia, but . . . (tearing out hair).

(Regina) #9

Here is one with smokepoints and ratios. https://jonbarron.org/diet-and-nutrition/healthiest-cooking-oil-chart-smoke-points

(So much bacon . . . so little time . . .) #10

Ooh, that’s helpful. Thanks, Regina.

I notice that the smoke point of butter and coconut oil is 177°C/350°F. Extra virgin olive oil is 160/320, lard is 182/370, canola oil is 200/392, and refined canola oil is 204/400. Olive pomace oil comes in at 238/460, and extra light olive oil a few degrees higher. The star is avocado oil, which comes in at 271/520.

So that takes care of smoke point. Now I’ll go look at the fatty acid compositions. If I’m not back in a few days, send out the dogs! :grinning:

(Ron) #11

Not in the Omega 3/6 ratios.

(Not a Chef) #12

Okay kids,
let’s consider a thing.
smoke point.
Smoke point is not the same as the point at which the oil degrades. It was used as a proxy for that point, but erroneously so.

"The olive oil and cold-pressed rapeseed oil produced far less aldehydes, as did the butter and goose fat. The reason is that these oils are richer in monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids, and these are much more stable when heated. In fact, saturated fats hardly undergo this oxidation reaction at all.
Prof Grootveld generally recommends olive oil for frying or cooking. “Firstly because lower levels of these toxic compounds are generated, and secondly the compounds that are formed are actually less threatening to the human body.”
Cold pressed rapeseed as they are discussing might be expelled canola. Canola has a high smoke point. Remember where I said smoke point isn’t the be all and end all. This would be the place.

Here’s the Olive Oil folks on a study along the same lines. Olive oil degrades the least at frying temps, regardless of smoke point.

Now, back to Canola. Making an effort to avoid Chiropractors, the Mercola folks, and the ilk, here’s Forbes:

Canola makes rats into morons. I could make a comment about the rise of Canola and other seed oils coinciding with a dumbing of the general population (since 1970 or so), but I feel that borders on politics, and I don’t want to go there.

So, to Gary Fettke, who is an actual doctor, if an orthopedic surgeon…


I like Dr. Fettke, because he breaks it down so that even an orthopedic surgeon can parse it.

As a tribute to Bunny, here’s another link:

He goes a bit deeper than Dr. Fettke, into the production of Canola, what’s wrong with that, why it’s not good for you, and so on.


The omega3/6 ratio for avocado oil is comparable to olive oil, so there’s that… To be honest, I think everything should be cooked in butter if possible, but if you must use some kind of oil at high temperatures, I think avocado oil is the better choice over any of the seed oils.

(Regina) #14

I am surprised by the extra virgin oil being safe to cook with. Thanks for that info.

(Leslie) #15

Thank you for posting this.
I’m glad I read through all the posts before I made this point :blush:
I am far more concerned with the way the oils change under heat than I am their smoke points.
Polyunsaturated fats are also a concern as well as linoleic acids

Excellent discussion!

(Not a Chef) #16

I wouldn’t cook with the EVOO, though. The main reason is because it’s expensive. The second reason is habit that I’m trying to break. If you read the actual work, the cheap, light, thoroughly unvirgin olive oil held up to the cooking as well as the EVOO. And, if you factor cost, considerably cheaper. And less prone to fraud.

That said, I did just make a marinade for some lamb that used a quarter cup and used my good stuff from Spain, and subjected that to high heat, and I’m not feeling dead or extra clogged or anything today… But for heating in a pan, if I’m not using butter or tallow, I use either Avo or Olive, but the third press olive, not the EVOO.

(Not a Chef) #17

On the upside, olive is not a seed oil. It’s a fruit oil, like avo. That’s why they are similar, while the seed oils have less of the Omega-9 Monos, and when they do, it’s the eurcic acid, which is no bueno.

(Ron) #18

I have been using EVOO for many years before Keto but now find myself using fat and tallow most of the time and the exception is always butter. :smirk:

(Alec) #19

Most of what I know about edible oils I learned from reading a pretty heavy book (top heavy with science!) some 20 years ago about the chemistry of edible oils. I was going to grab the book before I came to work today and reference it, but I forgot (must be all that bacon turning my brain to mush :crazy_face:).

I have been searching the interweb to see if I can find reference to it, but I can’t find it. From memory it was written by a Swedish scientist, and it was an excellent read if you can stomach some detailed biochemistry! :see_no_evil:

I will find it and reference it tonight.

Basically the message was the more you processed the oil, and worse it became. This might not be a very accurate portrayal (this is from 20 years ago!), as I am sure it is more complex than that, but that was the essence of what I remember from the book and the science he shows you.

Your challenge, though, is a great one. We learn something, and then forget what it was based on, and it becomes your own personal lore, and very often these things are built on very shaky ground. So it will be good to remind myself why I am so anti processed oils.

(Alec) #20

Reference 6.45

He also later in that clip waves a big bottle of safflower oil, which I am also skeptical about.

Phinney talks about canola oil here… he’s after the omega 3s.