With nearly 50 cooking oils to choose from, how do you know which one to put in the pan?

Take the confusion out of the kitchen with this three-step process to figuring out the best oil around.

Step 1: Know the Smoke Point

Health starts with heat. Know which oils can and can’t handle the heat. Why does this matter? Heating oil beyond its smoke point produces toxic fumes and free radicals (free radicals can damage the body’s cells). Avocado oil has the highest smoke point of any oil, making it the least toxic at high heat.

Step 2: Figure Out The Fat

Oils are fats. All oils contain 9 kcal/gram (while protein and carbohydrates have 4 kcal/gram), so use all oils in moderation: 1–2 tablespoons, not 1/4-cup, for your recipe. Some fats are better than others, though. The best of the bunch? Monounsaturated fatty acids — fats that help your health. They can be high in polyphenols, vitamin E and are known to lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).

Step 3: Pick a Winner

When oils have a combination of the appropriate smoke point, a safe and smart fat content for health and a great taste, too, you’ve got a winner. Here are three that score well overall and how to use them.

1st Place: Olive Oil

  • Use: Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on salads or bread. (Extra virgin means it is made from the very first pressing of olives.)
  • Use: Pure or light olive oil for grilling and sautéing
  • Smoke Point: Pure/light olive oil, medium-high; extra virgin olive oil, low
  • Taste: Pure or light olive oil is mild; extra virgin olive oil is tangy and bold

2nd Place: Canola Oil

  • Use: Great all around oil. Good for sautéing chicken, grilling and stir-frys. Perfect for popping popcorn!
  • Smoke Point: Medium-high
  • Taste: Little taste and very mild

3rd Place: Peanut Oil

  • Use: Stir-frying and sautéing
  • Smoke Point: High
  • Taste: Nutty

What? No coconut oil? As trendy as it is, this oil is high in saturated fat and should be used in moderation. You might also try it as a beauty treatment, though.

Final tips: Be sure to heat the oil and then add your food. Also, remove food immediately (as opposed to letting food sit in oil) when you’re done cooking. Taste, enjoy and be healthy!

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How to Use Coconuts To Be Beautiful Inside and Out

The 3 Healthiest Ways To Prepare Your Veggies

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