Which oil is best to cook with and why? Saturated vs Unsaturated oils.

When it comes to cooking oils, understanding the concept of saturated and unsaturated fats is crucial. These terms refer to the types of fatty acids present in the oils and can have implications for both health and cooking applications. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the differences between saturated and unsaturated fats and how they relate to various cooking oils.

Saturated fats are heat resistant so they are good for cooking but are bad for health, meanwhile unsaturated fats are easily destroyed by heat and are therefore not so good for cooking but are best for your overall health so it should be used mostly as dressing or towards the end of a cooking process.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are typically derived from animal sources, such as meat, dairy products, and certain plant oils. They are composed of fatty acids with no double bonds in their carbon chains. Saturated fats have long been associated with an increased risk of heart disease when consumed in excess. Therefore, it’s generally recommended to moderate their intake. Some common cooking oils that contain higher amounts of saturated fats include:

  1. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is known for its high saturated fat content, primarily consisting of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). While it’s debated among experts, some studies suggest that the unique composition of MCTs in coconut oil may have different effects on cholesterol levels compared to other saturated fats.
  2. Palm Oil: Palm oil is another oil that is high in saturated fats. It is commonly used in processed foods and commercial cooking due to its stability at high temperatures. It is also used in a lot of African dishes. However, the production of palm oil has been associated with environmental concerns, and it’s consumption to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats on the other hand, are typically liquid at room temperature and are derived from plant-based sources. They contain one or more double bonds in their carbon chains, which can affect their structure and health implications. Unsaturated fats are considered more heart-healthy when consumed in moderation. Let’s explore some common cooking oils rich in unsaturated fats:

  1. Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a well-known example of an oil rich in monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats have been associated with various health benefits, including improved heart health. Olive oil is versatile and suitable for low to medium-heat cooking, as well as for dressings and marinades.
  2. Avocado Oil: Avocado oil is another oil rich in monounsaturated fats. It has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods. Avocado oil is known for its mild flavor and is often used in a variety of dishes, including sautéing, grilling, and baking.
  3. Groundnut oil: Also known as peanut oil, is predominantly composed of unsaturated fats. It is considered a healthy cooking oil choice due to its high unsaturated fat content. The specific composition of groundnut oil can vary slightly depending on factors such as the variety of peanuts used and the method of extraction, but in general, it contains a higher proportion of unsaturated fats compared to saturated fats.
  4. Canola Oil: Canola oil is derived from the seeds of the canola plant and is a good source of monounsaturated fats. It is low in saturated fat and has a high smoke point, making it suitable for a wide range of cooking methods, including frying, baking, and grilling.
  5. Nut and Seed Oils: Oils such as walnut oil, almond oil, and sesame oil are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These oils offer unique flavors and can be used for various cooking applications, including stir-frying, salad dressings, and drizzling over finished dishes.


Understanding the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats is important when selecting cooking oils. While saturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil and palm oil, should be consumed in moderation due to their potential impact on heart health, unsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, avocado oil, and canola oil, offer more favorable health profiles. By incorporating oils rich in unsaturated fats into your cooking routine, you can enjoy both the nutritional benefits and the delicious flavors they bring to your culinary creations.

Source: Cooking Classy, Chicken Stir-Fry

When selecting any cooking oil, it’s advisable to opt for cold-pressed or unrefined versions, as they retain more of the natural nutrients and flavors compared to refined oils.

Additionally, it’s important to use oils in moderation as part of a balanced diet, considering your overall fat intake and individual dietary needs. Remember to use oils in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

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