We love olive oil. It is heart healthy, tastes great and enhances our salad dressings and pastas, pesto and hummus, among other things. We use it for most of our cooking needs.
However, there are lots of kitchen chores where less popular oils are better suited to the task at hand.
All fats have a smoke point: the point in which the oil begins to smoke and burn when heated. Once oil reaches that point, it, and the food cooked in it not only tastes bad, but can also be bad for you. It starts to break down chemically and releases toxins and carcinogenic free radicals through the smoke.
Olive oil, in comparison to other oils, has a relatively low smoke point. It is not recommended for frying, searing, stir frying or roasting at high temperatures.
Canola oil has a much higher smoke point and has a neutral flavor that does not over power foods. Like olive oil, it also is low in saturated fats, and may help reduce the risk of cardio vascular disease.
Below is a guide to several different oils and their smoke points:
Butter 325 degrees
Olive oil 325-400 degrees, depending on quality
Coconut oil 350-450 degrees, depending on refinement
Corn oil 425-450 degrees
Canola oil 450-475 degrees
Peanut oil 450-475 degrees
Safflower oil 475-500 degrees (if refined)
photo: glasshouse images