This post was originally published on June 12, 2014 and updated on March 26, 2020.
If you’ve ever heated oil to the point where it starts to smoke, then you have exceeded its smoke point. Once it gets too hot, the oil just isn’t fit for consumption. Some oils, such as Malaysian palm fruit oil, can handle high heat better than others.
What’s the big deal about a little smoke? It’s not just the annoying high-pitched beep of your smoke detector going off. When an oil is heated beyond its smoke point, its molecular structure begins breaking down. It may even form trans fats. The oil may lose its nutritional value, and give your food a bitter or burnt taste. Once it reaches that point, the oil really shouldn’t be consumed.
Other possible health concerns: The smoke from over-heated oils isn’t healthy to inhale. It may contain toxic fumes and harmful free radicals, which are may elevate your risk of come chronic diseases including cancer. This is why you should turn on your stove vent and open a window if a cooking oil starts to smoke.
It’s important to remember that all oils have a smoke point, and to match your oils with your cooking methods. Palm fruit oil has one of the highest smoke points among cooking oils and because it doesn’t have a strong flavor, it is so versatile that it can be used in everything from appetizers to desserts. Oils with lower smoke points, such as olive oil and walnut oil, are ideal for such things as salad dressings.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.