Today, I wanted to give you my take on a confusing subject to most people:
…why some oils and fats you may use in cooking, baking, or other food use are actually harmful to your body, and why some are healthful. Here’s the deal…
A lot of people seem to think that anything labeled as “vegetable oil” is good for you. NOT A SHOT!
Most of what is labeled as “vegetable oil” is simply heavily refined soybean oil (processed under high heat, pressure, and industrial solvents)… sometimes perhaps it may also be heavily refined cottonseed, safflower, corn, grapeseed, or other oils too.
In most instances, almost all of these processed oils are NOT HEALTHY for you.
If you buy processed food or deep fried food, you can usually be certain that these unhealthy oils are used to prepare your foods (or worse, it may use hydrogenated versions of these oils… aka – trans fats!).
You may have even bought some of these oils for your own cooking or baking at home.
The problem with soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, and other similar oils is that they are mostly composed of polyunsaturated fats which leaves them prone to oxidation and free radical production when exposed to heat and light.
Processed polyunsaturated oils are the most inflammatory inside our bodies because of their high reactivity to heat and light. This inflammation is what causes many of our internal problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases.
Note: It’s ok if a polyunsaturated fat isn’t processed such as in whole foods like various nuts and seeds…
In that case it’s not inflammatory, and is a great source of healthy polyunsaturated fats for you. By the way, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are both polyunsaturates. Your best bet is to choose raw nuts and seeds whenever possible to avoid the oxidation of polyunsaturated fats that can occur during roasting of nuts and seeds
However, all of the vegetable oils listed above are generally heavily refined during processing, so that makes them already inflammatory before you even cook with them (which does even more damage).
Here’s the actual order of stability of a type of fat under heat and light (from least stable to most stable):
Here’s something that mainstream health professionals will never tell you… Saturated fats are actually the healthiest oils to cook with! Why? Because they are much more stable and less inflammatory than polyunsaturated oils.
This is why tropical oils such as palm and coconut oils are best for cooking… they have very little polyunsaturates and are mostly composed of natural saturated fats which are the least reactive to heat/light and therefore the least inflammatory in your body from cooking use.
That’s also why natural butter (NOT margarine) is one of the best fats for cooking. This all goes directly against what you hear in mainstream health talk…
because most health professionals don’t truly understand the biochemistry of fats, and falsely believe that saturated fats are bad for you…
when in fact, they are actually neutral in most instances…
and saturated fats from tropical oils are actually good for you as they contain mostly medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are lacking in most people’s diets.
In fact, lauric acid is one of the abundant MCTs in tropical oils and is known to strengthen the immune system. Lauric acid is even being studied currently in medical studies for controlling contagious diseases.
To summarize… your best cooking or baking fats are generally butter or tropical oils such as palm or coconut oil. Olive oil (extra virgin preferably) is ok for lower cooking temps as it’s mostly monounsaturated, so moderately stable. The mostly polyunsaturated oils such as soybean, grapeseed, cottonseed, safflower, etc, are the least healthy for cooking or baking.
My choices for top healthy cooking oils that I use:
Of course, with all of that said… we should keep in mind that trying minimize our cooking with oils can help to reduce overall calories. Cooking with oils in moderation is ok and can actually help satisfy your appetite more, but be careful not to overdo it as the calories can add up fast.
Also, please don’t be fooled by deceptive marketing claiming that canola oil is healthy for you — it’s NOT! Here’s a related article about good trans fats vs. bad trans fats that I did previously (an eye opener to most people)…
by Mike Geary,
Certified Nutrition Specialist,