What are the health risks of cooking/frying with healthy oils past their smoke point?

I've heard that the oil is decomposed and toxin are formed. How does that affect our health when we eat fried foods?

  • 1
    This seems like a great question! I think you should put a bounty on this one, since it hasn't gotten a response yet.
    – Dave Liu
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 23:35
  • possible duplicate of Does fried food cause gastritis and other gastrointestinal tract illnesses?
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 5:58
  • 1
    Doesn't look like a duplicate for me, as the other question is completely different and it relates to cooking with oils only.
    – kenorb
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 12:48
  • @kenorb Both the questions are about cooking in oil. And the answer there does answer this one as well.
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 16:41
  • It looks the answer to this question is in title of the other one (fried food cause gastritis and other gastrointestinal tract illnesses), but it doesn't clarify that this is cause mainly because of frying on oil with past smoke point. The answer says only that it leads to chemical reactions, but this is what I'm aware of and it is mentioned in the question. However I still can't find exact health dangers of frying past a smoking point there.
    – kenorb
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


The worst components of fats and oils from health point of view are "trans fats". These are unsaturated fatty acids with one or more trans configuration double bonds. MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) and PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), on the other hand, are good types of fat and oil components.Mayo Clinic

Repeated reusing and heating oils to high temperature lead to formation of trans fats hence this should be avoided. See: Does Overheating Olive Oil Turn it to Trans Fat?

Trans fats increase the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque formation in the walls of arteries) that limit flow of blood in vital organs like heart and brain (see: Trans Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease). Trans fats are thought to be even worse than saturated fats for their propensity to cause atherosclerosis.

This leads to life-threatening conditions like myocardial infarction (heart attack), brain stroke and limb gangrene. Harmful health effects may also extend to other organs and diseases, e.g. Diabetes and Alzheimer. See: Dietary fats and the risk of incident Alzheimer disease.

Studies show that it is possible to completely eliminate trans fats from foods. As a result there are limitation in many parts of world on use of trans fats (see Trans fat ban in NYC and this).

FDA has made 2018 the year by which trans fat should be completely eliminated from food supply.NY Times


It seems to be that the health danger of frying past a smoking point is absorbing cancer-causing chemicals from the fumes the oil produces or from ingesting the oil itself.

... it is believed that fats that have gone past their smoke points contain a large quantity of free radicals which contibute to (sic) risk of cancer.

Source: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/50/Smoke-Points-of-Various-Fats

When an oil is heated past its smoke point, it generates toxic fumes and free radicals which are extremely harmful to your body. When the smoke point is reached, you’ll begin to see the gaseous vapors from heating, a marker that the oil has started to decompose. Decomposition involves chemical changes that ...also create cancer-causing compounds that are harmful when consumed and/or inhaled.

Source: http://www.business2community.com/health-wellness/the-danger-of-cooking-with-healthy-oils-past-their-smoke-point-0418150#jdc5hpj08paDzWEE.99

Oxidative DNA damage was associated with exposure of Chinese restaurant workers to cooking oil fumes.

Source: http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/17/12/3351.short

As side notes,

...the reuse of oils is one of the main reasons why eating at restaurants is discouraged,..."; "canola oil is always the worst choice, because it becomes toxic long before it reaches its smoke point. The high rates of lung cancer in China are largely due to the use of canola oil and rapeseed oil,...

Source: http://healthwyze.org/index.php/component/content/article/539-why-rancid-healthy-oils-are-more-dangerous-than-the-bad-oils.html


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.