When it comes to selecting your oil of choice during dinner prep, there are plenty of things that you might take into consideration. Maybe you’re a fan of sesame oil for the flavor, or you always opt for olive oil because you’re most familiar with its myriad health benefits. One thing you might not be taking into account, though, is the fact that different oils react differently to heat, so as far as cooking goes, picking the right oil is a little more complicated than just going off of flavor profile or health benefits.
So how do different oils stack up to one another as far as heat goes? That all comes down to what’s known as an oil’s smoke point, or the temperature at which an oil stops sizzling and starts to burn and – you guessed it – smoke. Now aside from this being bad news for your smoke alarm, heating up an oil beyond its smoke point also spells trouble for the quality and health implications of the oil. This is because when an oil is heated beyond its smoke point, the fats in that oil start to break down, which in turn kicks off the release of dangerous free radicals and the toxic chemical acrolein, which has been linked to cancer.
In order to help make sure that the oils you cook with are good to go (ie. have a host of health benefits, yes, but also have a high smoke point that makes them ideal for food prep), follow the chart below, which lays out a few of the best cooking oil choices out there.