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A Nutritionist’s Advice: ‘What’s the Healthiest Oil To Cook With?’

Cooking oils let you sauté and panfry meats and vegetables so they achieve a golden brown color. The only issue: Not all cooking oils are good for you. Some — like corn, canola, and sunflower oil — have a bad reputation due to their high omega-6 fatty acid content. Consuming these fatty acids in excess may contribute to chronic inflammation. That said, there’s a long list of healthy cooking oils that lack adverse contents. Olive oil is the most obvious choice because it’s low in omega-6’s yet rich in heart-healthy omega-3’s. Its neutral flavor also works well in any dish. Recently, a First for Women reader who cooks regularly with olive oil wrote in to ask if there are nutrient-rich oils she might use an alternative. We forwarded her question to nutrition experts Mira Calton, CN, and Jayson Calton, PhD. Here’s what they recommend.

The Best Oil for Cooking

Q: I’ve always used olive oil for cooking because it’s touted for heart health. But there are so many choices at the supermarket, and I wonder if I should be using avocado or grapeseed oil instead?

A: While there are many cooking oils, only avocado oil compares to olive oil from a nutritional standpoint. It has many similar properties to olive oil, including being high in antioxidants and healthy fats, particularly oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that’s been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil fights the cellular inflammation associated with aging and other diseases. And it contains nearly as much vitamin E, which is key for your skin and brain health, as olive oil.

The main difference between the two cooking oils? Avocado oil has a higher smoke point, so it can withstand hotter temperatures before it starts to degrade and release inflammatory particles that increase the risk of health woes. We stick to olive oil for general cooking but use avocado oil when grilling or cooking on high heat. Click through to learn about grapeseed oil and cholesterol.

Meet Our Expert Panel

Nutrition experts Mira Calton, CN, and Jayson Calton, PhD, are leading authorities on nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. They are also the bestselling authors of Rebuild Your Bones: The 12-Week Osteoporosis Protocol (available at Amazon). To ask them a question, send an email to

For more information about the recent scare involving canola oil, click through The Rumor About Canola Oil Being Banned in Europe Has A Grain Of Truth.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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