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Old 01-15-2017, 01:19 PM   #1
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Oil smoke points, and their health significance

Dear all,
I am reading a lot about the various health advantages and disadvantages of various oils, which i hope i can more or less summarize in a sentence: those with low 'smoke points' easily oxidize causing free radicals to be released into the food, which contribute to atherosclerosis/heart disease and cancer, and hence are to be avoided... coconut oil (extra virgin or expeller-pressed for non-coconut taste) has a very high smoke point and is stable at high temperatures, making it safe to cook with.
i) did i miss anything in my summary? humans has been using olive oil and butter to cook with (safely?) for years, but perhaps not at the temperatures we do.
ii) assuming the smoke point of butter and virgin olive oil (my previous go-to cooking fats) are below that of steak-griddling and oven roasting, should they essentially not be used at all? or does the animal/fish fat in whatever i'm cooking oxidize at these temperatures anyway, making the oil i'm with almost irrelevant..?!
iii) i am told the 'stove-top' temperature of cooking typically ends up at 150C or so - is there a way of reliably measuring it to keep it below certain levels? Or if i keep the oven at, say 150C, can i assume i can safely use oils with smoke points above this in my cooking without worrying about it oxidizing?

Apologies for the rather pedantic-sounding questions, but i'd like to get this right.
Many thanks,
John

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Old 01-15-2017, 02:22 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john_coburg View Post
Dear all,
I am reading a lot about the various health advantages and disadvantages of various oils, which i hope i can more or less summarize in a sentence: those with low 'smoke points' easily oxidize causing free radicals to be released into the food, which contribute to atherosclerosis/heart disease and cancer, and hence are to be avoided... coconut oil (extra virgin or expeller-pressed for non-coconut taste) has a very high smoke point and is stable at high temperatures, making it safe to cook with.
i) did i miss anything in my summary? humans has been using olive oil and butter to cook with (safely?) for years, but perhaps not at the temperatures we do.
ii) assuming the smoke point of butter and virgin olive oil (my previous go-to cooking fats) are below that of steak-griddling and oven roasting, should they essentially not be used at all? or does the animal/fish fat in whatever i'm cooking oxidize at these temperatures anyway, making the oil i'm with almost irrelevant..?!
iii) i am told the 'stove-top' temperature of cooking typically ends up at 150C or so - is there a way of reliably measuring it to keep it below certain levels? Or if i keep the oven at, say 150C, can i assume i can safely use oils with smoke points above this in my cooking without worrying about it oxidizing?

Apologies for the rather pedantic-sounding questions, but i'd like to get this right.
Many thanks,
John
Hi, John. Here's a good guide to cooking oils, their smoke points, and which to use when: Cooking Oils: Which One When, and Why?

Humans have been using all kinds of things for millennia, but before 1900, their life expectancy was less than 45 years. Most people died of something else (communicable diseases, accidents, infections, childbirth, etc.) before they got to the point where their long-term diet affected their health (except for specific diseases of malnutrition).

I use regular (not extra virgin) olive oil or canola oil for sauteing, roasting, etc. I use a mix of good extra virgin olive oil and canola oil (because it hardens less in the fridge; or peanut oil for Asian dressings) for salad dressings and marinades, and peanut oil for stir-fries. I don't usually use butter for sauteing, but for finishing.

You can get an infrared thermometer to keep track of the temperature of your oils, but if you use one that has a high smoke point, no worries.
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