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You see a recipe call for safflower oil or maybe flaxseed and you’re not really sure why. You go to the cooking oil section in the store and are reminded of how many oils there really are. Yet many of us stick to the ones we know.

Every oil carries different amounts of Omegas and types of fats. And while there’s a lot more to learn just on that point alone, we thought it was important to first focus on the maximum heat point. Using any oil past its max heat point can break down the healthy fats into bad ones before they even enter your body. (Enter long sigh here.)

So here’s a basic rundown of commonly seen oils organized by the max heat point, as you venture out on trying new oils.

No to Low Heat

  • Extra Virgin Olive (EVOO) – rich in color and buttery in taste
  • Flaxseed – light, nutty taste
  • Hemp Seed – nutty, rich flavor for a finishing oil (no heat)

Medium Heat

  • Coconut – buttery consistency, good for baking (solid at room temperature)
  • Safflower – similar light taste as vegetable oil
  • Walnut – light nutty flavor, good general-purpose oil

High Heat

  • Avocado – mild in taste, high in monosaturated fats
  • Grapeseed – light green color and similar taste to EVOO (a cheaper alternative)
  • Light Olive (“regular” olive oil) – light in taste, good general oil
  • Sesame – neutral flavor, and not the same as toasted sesame oil used in dressings
  • Sunflower Seed – mild in taste, great for fish

OK for Frying

  • Canola – similar to vegetable oil but lower in saturated fats
  • Corn – neutral in flavor, commonly used for French fries
  • Palm – neutral in flavor (semi-solid at room temperature)
  • Peanut – powerful nut flavor
  • Vegetable (blend) – light in flavor, great for high-heat sautéing or frying

We challenge you to pick one oil you’ve never tried before and give it a shot!