I think there was a time when I only used extra virgin olive oil. Whether it was salads, sauteing, or baking, evoo was my go to oil. I now know that just because extra virgin olive oil is so good for you, it doesn't mean it can be used with any cooking process. That's where smoke points come in, great another thing to worry about! You are using healthy oil but you can use it for this but not that?! How overwhelming!
So what is smoke point anyway? It's the temperature that the oil goes from being beneficial to possibly toxic, it's the point that an actual "smoke" can be seen. You don't want your oils to get to this point, especially if you are using the oil for healthy purposes. I'm not saying this to freak you out, this whole "smoke point" is a range and doesn't mean the food you are eating is officially toxic and you shouldn't cook with said oil. It just means that there are oils that will do the job better and you will reap more of the health benefits.
There are so many great oils out there now that can be used and it can feel really confusing as to which one you should use for salads, cooking, baking. I don't want to deter you from using a variety of oils, especially since more popular ones have such great benefits. As a general rule, if you can buy organic, cold-pressed, unrefined oils that is going to be your healthiest bet. The more they have to heat and refine oils, the less health benefits the oils tends to carry. The more refined the oils are also equals higher smoke points, which we obviously need for certain types of cooking!
Below I am giving you a guide for some commonly used healthier oils, their smoke point (which you don't want to go above) and when it's best to use them.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil-unrefined
Smoke Point: 320F (this is a lower smoke point)
Use: Salads, or added after cooking process (high intensity flavor!)
Don't Use: Frying or Deep Frying (which I'm sure no one does anyway :-)
Smoke Point: 420F (Medium to High)
Use: Sauteing, roasting and baking
Don't Use: Won't be as flavorful in your salads or drizzled on top
Smoke Point: 350F (unrefined is a bit lower 280F)(low-medium)
Use: Light sauteing, baking, body lotion, oil pulling (I could go on)
Don't Use: Deep Frying or Grilling
Smoke Point: 400F (High)
Use: Good for most cooking
Don't Use: Not very flavorful
Smoke Point: 450F-500F (pretty high)
Use: Great for sauteing, baking or salads (food topper) great flavor
Don't Use: Deep frying
Smokepoint: 392F (High)
Use: Salads, baking, sauteing, roasting
Don't Use: Deep Frying
Sunflower, Safflower (Vegetable Oils)
Smokepoint: 450F (High)
Use: Neutral oils for baking, frying, salads, searing
Don't Use: if hoping for intense flavors or low-heat cooking
Use: Dressings and garnish
Don't Use: Frying, or more than low-heat cooking