Prospering with Plant-Based Paige: Which Oils Should I Cook With?

By Paige Snyder on September 15, 2015 , categorized in In the Kitchen

Whether it’s macrobiotics, Ayurvedic practices, raw food or food combining—I love finding ways to reduce stress and increase energy. I’ll take my research and obsession with freshness and nutrient density, and turn them into approachable tips to help you prosper. Regardless if you are plant-based or not, I hope to help you reach optimal wellness with the most up-to-date information on healthy living.

Oils used in moderation can be a healthy and flavorful addition to your recipes. However when in the oil aisle it seems like you need to crack the Da Vinci Code to figure out which is best for baking, sautéing, or making a salad dressing. That ends today! Here is my quick and easy guide to what oils to use for what culinary purpose.

Let’s start with a little need-to-know vocabulary:


This means that the oil was obtained from pressing and grinding mechanism not reaching heat above 120 degrees. This is a really good procedure because heat can affect both the taste and nutritional value.


This method is similar to cold pressed but tends to add a little more heat, not reaching over 210 degrees. This is also a good method, although the product will be slightly less nutrient dense than with cold-pressed.


Red Flag! Avoid oils with this on the label. Just like flours and sugars, oils that are refined have been altered usually by heat, bleach or other solvents and are not the best for our health.

Virgin Oils:

This is a good term to see on the product. It means that the oil is of high quality, has not been exposed to heat or chemicals. Extra virgin means that it has been pressed using only pressure, comes from the first pressing of the oil, and meets the optimal acidity level resulting in the most pure and desirable taste.

Smoke Point:

The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to start smoking when subjected to heat. You never want to let oil smoke; that means it has become too hot and creates toxic fumes and free radicals. This terminology is going to be the most helpful when choosing your oils for the right job; you don’t want to fry or bake with an oil that has a low smoking point.

Now that we’ve laid down the base knowledge let’s get to the specifics! For your convenience, here is a reference chart for proper oil selection. When making these recommendations I took into account smoke point as well as flavor. Some oils may have a high smoke point making them eligible for frying but the flavor may give your dishes an undesirable taste.



Type of oil Smoking Point (degrees F) Recommended Use
Vega Antioxidant Omega Oil Salad dressing, dips, smoothies, and drizzling (NO cooking, baking or frying)
Flaxseed 225 Salad dressing, dips, and drizzling
Olive – Extra Virgin 320 Frying
Coconut – Extra Virgin 350 Baking, sautéing, dressings, frostings
Sesame – Light 410 Frying
Sesame – Dark 410 Stir-frying and sauces
Olive – Virgin 420 Frying
Sun Flower 450 Baking or frying
Peanut 450 Baking or frying
Safflower 450 Frying
Avocado 520 Frying, dressings, drizzling

Oils are a great way to add nutrition to your grains, beans, smoothies and salads. Try this healthy Italian Herb Dressing or Pesto to take your recipes from meh to whoa in minutes.

Bonus tip: Coconut oil has a great deal of uses outside the kitchen especially for natural beauty! Learn more here.


What is your favorite oil to cook with?

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cooking Healthy fats in the kitchen infonugget oil

Paige Snyder

Paige Snyder works at Vega as a Regional Educator. She is a plant-based nutritionist who specializes in sport performance, stress management, and achieving your optimal weight. Paige is currently completing her Masters in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and loves to develop raw dessert recipes.