Compare oils

Oils are used every day to prepare and cook food. How do we choose an oil that is the healthiest? The type of oil in the diet can have a positive or negative effect on our health depending on the following factors; the source of the oil, the amount of antioxidants found in the oil, the fat profile of the oil; is it mainly saturated or unsaturated fat or does it contain trans fats? And lastly, what types of cooking methods or meal preparation is a particular oil most suitable for. This Oil Comparison section is designed to help you choose the most suitable oil for your health.

Selected Oils

EVOO

EVOO

Virgin olive oil

Virgin olive oil

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Canola Oil

Canola Oil

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed Oil

Peanut Oil

Peanut Oil

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower Oil

Rice Bran Oil

Rice Bran Oil

Compare results

Oil

oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon
Fats and oils can be obtained in two essential ways – either mechanically or chemically. Mechanical extraction is commonly referred to as natural production typically utilizing screw or centrifugal presses, whereas chemical indicates the fat or oil has been extracted with the aid of chemical solvents.

When an oil is mechanically extracted this means that only mechanical force has been used to obtain the oil. There has been no use of excessive heat or solvents. If this mechanically extracted oil is consumed without further treatment is usually known as “virgin”

Mechanically extracted oils can also be further refined through processes such as bleaching, neutralizing, deodorizing and/or degumming. However, no solvents are used.

When an oil is chemically extracted this means that solvents have been used to extract the oil from the source. Typically, this oil is usually known as “crude” and is then further refined through processes such as bleaching, neutralizing, deodorizing and/or degumming to make the oil fit for human consumption. (1, 2)
before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon
Based on ppm (parts per million, mg/kg)
The phenolic profile of all oils changes over time, as it is exposed to heat, light and oxygen. Biophenols are compounds that act as potent natural antioxidants (which scavenge free radical species) and are found naturally in certain oils.

* based on analysis performed on standard supermarket products by ISO 17025 accredited laboratory unless otherwise referenced Results are dependent on variety and origin of oil.
α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon
Alpha tocopherol, also known as vitamin E, is a well-known antioxidant, which acts in a variety of ways to scavenge free radical species in the body.
In some cases, alpha tocopherols will be added to the oil after it has been refined to enhance its stability.
before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon
All oils have varying fatty acid profiles. This column in the comparison tool provides the approximate percentage of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat for various oils.
before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon
Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are unsaturated fatty acids which contain a double bond and can be detrimental to health. TFAs can be generated during an oil’s chemical extraction and/or refining process.
before icon Stability when Heated after icon
This column describes the heat stability of the oil and its likelihood to break down and form harmful compounds when used to cook with.(3-6)

Despite popular belief, smoke point is not a good predictor of an oil’s ability to withstand heat and its suitability, safety and healthfulness when heated for cooking purposes.

When oil breaks down (e.g. when exposed to heat) there are a variety of degradation by-products produced, such as polar compounds. Evidence shows that polar compounds may be detrimental to health and have been linked to the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Key factors that impact an oils ability to withstand heat and prevent an oil from breaking down and forming harmful compounds when heated are:
  • Fatty acid profile: The higher in polyunsaturated fat, the less stable an oil is as oxidative damage occurs at double bonds
  • Level of antioxidants: The less antioxidants, the less stable the oil
  • Production method: More heavily processed oils are less stable under heat (I.e. oils that are chemically extracted and refined are less stable than oils that are mechanically extracted and virgin).
EVOO

EVOO

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

The highest grade of olive oil mechanically extracted from the fruit of the olive tree. This process is done via mechanical/centrifugal pressing at ambient temperatures and without chemicals.(7)

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

80 – 1200ppm*

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

80-200mg/kg (8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

53%-85% monounsaturated fat
<3.0%-23.5% polyunsaturated fat
7%-20% Saturated Fat
(8-10)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Naturally occurring TFAs in EVOO are always below 0.1% (11-13)

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

EVOO is a highly heat stable oil when heated. A 2017 Australian study that tested heat stability of ten main supermarket oils showed that EVOO was the most stable oil to cook with produced the least (8.74%) amount of polar compounds when heated (3)

Virgin olive oil

Virgin olive oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Mechanically extracted from the fruit of the olive tree. Virgin olive oil is a lower quality oil than EVOO. This is related to its chemical and sensory characteristics (7)

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

80 – 1200ppm*

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

70-150 mg/kg (8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

53%-85% monounsaturated fat
<3.0%-23.5% polyunsaturated fat
7%-20% Saturated Fat
(8-10)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Naturally occurring TFAs in VOO are always below 0.1% (11-13)

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Virgin olive oil is a lower quality olive oil compared to EVOO in terms of sensory and chemical parameters. Virgin olive oil is less stable when heated compared to EVOO due to its higher level of free fatty acids.

Virgin olive oil has been shown to produce 1.26 times more polar compounds when heated compared to EVOO. (3)

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Mechanically extracted then further refined through processes of bleaching, neutralising, deodorising and/or degumming.

Olive oil is a blend of refined olive oil EVOO and/or VOO (7). The percentage of virgin oil in the blend is typically low ranging between 2 and 20%.

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

10-150 ppm (8, 11, 12)

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

70-150 mg/kg (8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

53%-85% monounsaturated fat
<3.0%-23.5% polyunsaturated fat
7%-20% Saturated Fat
(8-10)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil being refined (11-13) but typically below 0.5%.

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil being refined (11-13) but typically below 0.5%. Olive oil is less heat stable than EVOO and has been shown to produce 1.38 times more polar compounds than EVOO when heated. (3)

Canola Oil

Canola Oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Typically extracted through screw press, solvent extraction or a combination of both methods and then refined (9, 14)

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

<10 ppm(8, 14)

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

100-380mg/kg (8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

62% monounsaturated fat

25% polyunsaturated fat
7% saturated fat (8-10)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil’s extraction process and/or being refined (10, 15). Levels of TFAs typically between 0.1% and 1.0% depending on the production methods.

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Canola oil is much less heat stable than EVOO and has been shown to produce 2.65 times more polar compounds when heated compared to EVOO(3)

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed Oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Typically extracted through screw press, solvent extraction or a combination of both methods and then refined (9, 14)

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

1-2ppm*

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

16-38mg/kg (6)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

11% saturated fat

73% polyunsaturated fat

16% monounsaturated fat (7,8)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil’s extraction process and/or being refined (10, 15). Levels of TFAs typically between 0.1% and 1.0% depending on the production methods.

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Grapeseed oil is a less stable oil to cook with at high temperatures compared to EVOO. It has been shown to produce 2.34 times more polar compounds when heated compared to EVOO.(3)

Peanut Oil

Peanut Oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Typically extracted through screw press, solvent extraction or a combination of both methods and then refined (9, 14)

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

<10ppm*

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

49-373mg/kg (8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

36-68% monounsaturated fat
14-43% polyunsaturated fat
2-14% saturated fat (8, 9)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil’s extraction process and/or being refined (10, 15). Levels of TFAs typically between 0.1% and 1.0% depending on the production methods.

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Peanut oil is a less stable oil to cook with at high temperatures compared to EVOO. It has been shown to produce 1.26 times more polar compounds when heated compared to EVOO.(3)

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Mechanically extracted from the fruit of the coconut, called the copra. Further refining by removal of free fatty acids and processes such as bleaching, neutralizing, deodorizing and degumming. (9)

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

<10 ppm (8)

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

0-17mg/kg (8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

91% saturated fat

2% polyunsaturated fat
7% monounsaturated fat (8, 9)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil’s extraction process and/or being refined (10, 15). Levels of TFAs typically between 0.1% and 1.0% depending on the production methods.

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Similar to EVOO, Coconut Oil is very stable to cook with at high temperatures due to its high saturated fat content. However, it only contains trace amount of antioxidants which is likely the reason coconut oil produced 1.10 times more polar compounds when heated compared to EVOO.(3)

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower Oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Typically extracted through screw press, solvent extraction or a combination of both methods and then refined (9, 14)

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

<10ppm*

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

90-450mg/kg (6, 8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

19% monounsaturated fat
69% polyunsaturated fat
12% saturated fat (8, 9)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil’s extraction process and/or being refined (10, 15). Levels of TFAs typically between 0.1% and 1.0% depending on the production methods.

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Sunflower oil is a less stable oil to cook with at high temperatures compared to EVOO. It has been shown to produce 1.84 times more polar compounds when heated compared to EVOO.(3)

Rice Bran Oil

Rice Bran Oil

before icon Production method/ Extraction process after icon

Typically extracted through screw press, solvent extraction or a combination of both methods and then refined (9, 14).

before icon Polyphenols (Biophenols*) after icon

<10 ppm (8, 10)

α-tocopherol mg/kg (Vitamin E) after icon

30-600mg/kg (8)

before icon Fatty acid Profile after icon

42% monounsaturated fat
38% polyunsaturated 18% saturated fat
(8, 9)

before icon trans fatty acids (TFAs) after icon

Contains some level of TFAs due to the oil’s extraction process and/or being refined (10, 15). Levels of TFAs typically between 0.1% and 1.0% depending on the production methods.

before icon Stability when Heated after icon

Rice Bran oil is a less heat stable oil than EVOO and has been shown to produce 1.69 times more polar compounds when heated compared to EVOO(3)

View References

References

  1.  Luthria DL. Oil Extraction and Analysis. UK: AOCS Publishing; 2004.
  2. Farr WE, Proctor A. Green Vegetable Oil Processing: Revsied First Edition: Elsevier; 2013.
  3.  De Alzaa F, Guillaume C, Ravetti L. Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Changes in Different Commercial Oils during Heating. ACTA Scientific Nutritional Health. 2018;2(6):2-11.
  4.  Eyres L, Wong M. Food New Zealand 12. 2019.
  5.  Zribi A, Jabeur H, Flamini G, Bouaziz M. Quality assessment of refined oil blends during repeated deep frying monitored by SPME–GC–EIMS, GC and chemometrics. International Journal of Food Science & Technology. 2016;51(7):1594-603.
  6.  Casal S, Malheiro R, Sendas A, Oliveira BP, Pereira JA. Olive oil stability under deep-frying conditions. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2010;48(10):2972-9.
  7.  Australia S. Australian Standards: Olive oils and olive pomace oils. AS 5264- 2011.; 2011.
  8.  Firestone D. Physical and Chemical Characteristics of Oils, Fats, and Waxes. Washington D.C: AOCS Press; 1999.
  9.  Enig MG. Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol: Bethesda Press USA; 2013.
  10.  FSANZ. Food Standards Australia New Zealand 2019 [cited 2019 18122019]. Available from: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx.
  11.  Servili M, Esposto S, Fabiani R, Urbani S, Taticchi A, Mariucci F, et al. Phenolic compounds in olive oil: antioxidant, health and organoleptic activities according to their chemical structure. Inflammopharmacology. 2009;17(2):76-84.
  12.  Boskou D. Olive oil and olive oil bioactive constituents. 1st ed. Illinois: AOCS Press; 2015.
  13.  Teresa SM, Shu‐Wen H, N. FE. Effect of natural antioxidants in virgin olive oil on oxidative stability of refined, bleached, and deodorized olive oil. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 1995;72(10):1131-7.
  14.  Canada CCo. Health benefits of Canola Oil 2017 [Available from: https://www.canolacouncil.org/oil-and-meal/canola-oil/health-benefits-of-canola-oil/.
  15.  FSANZ. Assessment of Trans Fatty Acids in Imported Oils. In: Zealand FSAN, editor. 2017.

Saturated fat is the main dietary cause of high cholesterol, raising levels of the harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

Too much saturated fat heightens your risk of heart disease.

Trans fat behaves similarly to saturated fat. However, it not only raises levels of harmful LDL cholesterol, but also lowers levels of the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

To earn the Heart Foundation tick, vegetable oils must contain no more than 1% trans fat as part of their total fat content.

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