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Best Cooking Oil for High Heat Cooking

In 2024, I hope that we’re all over the non-fat, low-fat, fat-free nutrition advice from the 90’s. It was terrible then and it’s terrible now. But, in case you never got the full explanation, we’re going to learn about why fat is important. Even if you have kidney disease…and heart disease and diabetes and high cholesterol. So, let’s talk.


Fat is Important

Fat is one of three macronutrients that humans need to survive — the others are carbohydrates and protein, but we’ll save those for another day.


Fat is responsible for:

Many bottles of olive oil sit on a wooden shelf.
Choosing a nutrient dense cooking oil can help to alleviate inflammation and increase good cholesterol.

  • Assisting in absorption of Vitamins A, D, E, and K

  • Hormone development

  • Insulating and protecting vital organs from shock and injury

  • Maintaining body temperature

  • Storing energy for later use


Dietary fat is the fat or oil that we eat. In most healthy diets, about 30% of calories will come from fat. So, know let's talk about types of fat in the diet.


Types of Dietary Fat

Intake of fat in the diet is especially important because the body needs, but cannot make, some fatty acids— we call these “essential fatty acids”. These essential fatty acids are known commonly as omega-3s and omega-6s. The body requires these for horomone development, healthy immune function, and preventing inflammation.


Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and we historically think of them as “good” fats. You may read these on a nutrition label as “monounsaturated fat” and “polyunsaturated fat”. But, those of us in the biz like to call them MUFAs and PUFAs (pronounced like “moo-fas” and “poo-fas”). They mostly come from high fat fruits like avocado and olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, and safflower. They also include those essential fatty acids that we just talked about. 


Research has shown that a diet rich in MUFAs is linked to fewer chronic illnesses like kidney disease and diabetes and better control of those diseases when a person already has them. As intake of these fats increases, we see an overall decrease in inflammation and an improvement in gut health as well. 


Though recent research has suggested that a diet high in PUFAs can also contribute to chronic disease. There hasn't been enough research for me to feel comfortable telling you to get rid of all of your PUFA-rich oils (sunflower, grapeseed, and soybean oils). But, I am going to recommend oils that are rich in MUFAs and not PUFAs.


By the way, liquid oils should be stored in a cool, dark place (your pantry or kitchen cabinet is fine!) to prevent nutrients in the oil from breaking down.


Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. They are most often found in animal products like butter, meat, poultry, coconut oil, and lard. High intake of these fats is linked to an increase in chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, as well as inflammation and poor gut health.


Trans Fat

Most trans fats occur when we process liquid fats to make them shelf stable and solid at room temperature. Margarine, shortening, and highly processed foods are highest in trans fats. Trans fats can interrupt the body's ability to metabolize “good” fats and diets high in trans fats are linked to an increase in chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammatory disease states like kidney disease.


The Effect of Cooking Temperature on Fat

Heat, light, and air can all cause fat to degrade and unfortunately, oils high in those unsaturated or “good” fats degrade faster than more processed oils high in trans fats. Heating, especially at very high temperatures (more than 400℉), can also cause some oils to release toxic chemicals that can contribute to inflammation and cancer risk.


Best Cooking Oil for High Heat Cooking

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The best cooking oil for high heat cooking and overall health — but especially for kidney disease, heart health, and high cholesterol — is extra virgin olive oil. 


I know that we told people for years not to use EVOO for high heat cooking because of the development of carcinogens at high temps. I told patients this too. But research has shown that the exceptionally high amount of antioxidants found in non-refined olive oil can protect against development of these toxic chemicals. Refined olive oil — or“Light” olive oil — has most of these antioxidants removed in processing. 


Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point around 410℉ and cooking at temperatures higher than that may cause the oil to develop a burnt taste. So, it still works well for pan-frying, roasting, and baking.


However, if you’re going to be grilling or broiling, or you just want to use a high temp oil that tastes less… Well, less like olive oil, there are other options.


2nd Best Cooking Oil for High Heat Cooking and Health

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil has a great deal of antioxidants and MUFAs — just like olive oil. It is similarly stable at high temperatures and has a much higher smoke point than olive oil that moves between 500 and 525℉.


This makes it perfect for grilling, broiling, or searing — I like to use it for searing in my cast iron because I can get a good crispy salmon or steak and I don’t have to worry about my food tasting burnt!


Summary

Both olive oil and avocado oil are great for high heat cooking! Olive oil offers some extra health benefits if you don’t need to cook at more than 425℉, but avocado is a close second in terms of health benefits with the added bonus of being heat stable over 500℉. Both of these oils can be a part of a healthy diet that can contribute to improving inflammatory conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease with regular use. 

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Brandy Winfree, RDN smiling at the camera.

I'm Brandy Winfree, RDN.

When I was working in dialysis, I saw so many patients who had no idea that diet plays a HUGE role in kidney health.

I decided then that I needed to pass my knowledge onto people with kidney disease BEFORE they went into kidney failure. Not after.

That's why I became a board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition and why I started this blog. 

You deserve to take care of the kidneys that you have now and I want to share my knowledge with you to make that happen.

Are they any topics that you'd like to hear my thoughts on?

Shoot me a message here.

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