Pantry 101: The Best and Worst Oils For Your Health

By Jennifer Sgro-Stovall

Share Tweet

If you find yourself reaching for a cooking oil, choose one that contains the healthiest fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—and try to steer clear of those that are processed and refined.  

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil means that the olive oil is not refined, and high quality. Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids, and many studies have linked it to better heart health. 

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is a great choice. It’s unrefined like extra virgin olive oil, but has a higher smoking point, perfect for cooking at higher heat and is great for stir-frys. It doesn’t have much flavor, which makes it a good option for cooking. Avocado oil contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (it has one of the highest monounsaturated fat contents among cooking oils) as well as vitamin E. 

Vegetable oils

Vegetable oils are refined and processed, which means they not only lack flavor, but also nutrients, and are guaranteed to be highly processed. Vegetable oils mean manufacturers can substitute whatever commodity oil they want—soy, corn, cottonseed, canola—without having to print a new label. Some of these oils, especially palm, are associated with more degradation of land for production.

It’s no secret that saturated fats are the number one cause of high cholesterol levels, can increase the risk of heart disease in people and is one of the leading causes of death in North America. A more sedentary lifestyle, less exercise and processed food options that are more accessible than ever before, have led to an obesity epidemic spanning several decades.  

A Healthy Appetite

In a paper published in 2022, The Origins of the Obesity Epidemic in the US – Lessons for Today, a large body of evidence has linked the (North American) diet with body weight and risk of excess weight gain. Many changes have taken place in the American diet over the past several decades, including the rise of ultra-processed foods (UPFs). UPFs are typically prepared from mostly cheap sources of dietary energy and nutrients, plus additives. Ultra-processed foods are mostly high in calories, salt, sugar, and fat but contain minimal amounts of whole foods. 

When in Rome 

Combined with moderate exercise, a notion of wellness and with an eye to a—healthier—future, European countries have adopted a less processed food lifestyle and heart disease has dropped by 15 percent in recent years. Restaurants are also listening to their patrons and following suit, adjusting their menus and bringing in equipment that allows for healthier meals with half the calories but with the same delicious flavours and taste.   

Subscribe to the TFI newsletter!

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on the latest industry insights and unlock other exclusive content!

Industry Insights

Stay updated with the latest industry insights, news, and expert advice.

Exclusive Content

Unlock exclusive content, including recipes, guides, and more.

Other Articles you might like

Learn how to grow your business with our expert advice.

Elevate Your Culinary Experience
with TFI Canada

Discover top-tier commercial food equipment including fryers, combi ovens, grills and more designed to enhance your kitchen's efficiency and quality.