By popular request, I’m writing this article to clarify which oils are healthy, and which are not. Those of you who know me personally, know I I’m a foodie and a gourmet cook. Using the right oils can make or break a recipe and be harmful to your health. Even though an oil may be recommended in a gourmet magazine or recipe site, does not mean it’s good for you. You might have to substitute a healthier option. Labels that include the words organic, vegan, keto, and others can be misleading. The proof is in the ingredient list. I can give you the list of good and bad oils, you just must do the work and read the ingredients.
I’ll cut to the chase, and first list all of the bad oils that are in so many of our foods today. I will also add that most restaurants use many of these oils, as they’re much less expensive. If you eat at restaurants daily or at least a few times a week, you are consuming these oils on a regular basis.
Here’s the list: canola (rapeseed), corn, soybean, vegetable, peanut, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, grape seed, margarine, shortening, and any processed butter substitutes. One easy rule of thumb is to avoid all seed oils, unless they are processed properly. In different countries certain oils are indigenous and necessary in people’s diet. In this article, I am discussing the American diet. We all know the dangers of trans fats, but few understand the dangers of otherwise healthy oils that have been refined. This makes them toxic to our cardiovascular health and they also have carcinogenic properties. Just by the processing that uses high temperatures, it makes these oils just as dangerous as trans fats.
How does the method of pressing seeds, nuts, and other vegetables affect the oil?
Some oils are okay if processed correctly. On ingredient lists, you will see expeller pressed or cold pressed before the name of the oil. With expeller pressed, the seeds are pressed with high intensity and friction to extract the oil. This causes heat of about 140-210 degrees Fahrenheit to do this. The seeds stay in the press and can be used as animal feed. This method can be expensive, as it takes a lot of seeds to render smaller amounts of oil than other methods that use chemical to assist in the extraction. In cold pressed oils, a press is also used, but less heat is generated, about 122 degrees Fahrenheit. This protects the nature of the seeds, and there is much less damage to the antioxidant properties of the seeds and oil. Some hard-core folks actually buy their own presses and make their own nut and seed oils. This way, there is no heat generated, and is therefore the healthiest method. Cold expressed oils are also higher in vitamin A. If you do use cold expeller pressed oils, use them at lower temperatures to protect their antioxidants. This means as a finishing oil on top of food, or after cooking or heating. These can be best used as salad dressings as well. Speaking of salad dressings, you’ll be amazed at the number of unhealthy oils used even in organic and raw brands now that you’re reading the labels more closely. If you’re looking for an oil for high heat usage, expeller pressed are best. Another way labels can be misleading, is when you see a blend of oils that are used along with the expeller or cold expeller methods I just mentioned. Commonly, you’ll see them add refined oils in the blend. These are oils that have been processed using chemicals to extract the oils faster and with a higher yield. Refined oils are processed at a higher temperature, and use chemicals including benzene, a known carcinogen. Canola oil also turns into benzene when heated. If you see expeller pressed, Cold expeller pressed, or unrefined, they should be safe.
What are good oils to use for high temperatures like frying or grilling?
Avocado oil that is unrefined, like the brand Chosen Foods and some others is great. It’s available at Costco and most supermarkets. You can even get it in a spray form that does not have propellants and other chemicals added like the mainstream sprays do. Do not use light olive oil that has been processed with chemicals to neutralize it, deodorize, and allow it to be used at higher temps. This is not healthy. When buying olive oil, get the Extra Virgin olive oil, (EVOO). It’s best to get single origin sourced as well. Many are blends from different countries, and they cannot control the purity of the olives. There are many imposters out there, even some of the old standbys we’ve all used for years. One of the best on the safe list is Kirkland brand from Costco. Of course, this is not to be used as a high heat oil. It is best to use for gentle heating, and to be added at the end or on salads and for dipping etc.
The bottom line is to stick with real EVOO, avocado oil, and some others I’ll talk about in part 2 of an oil article I’ll write soon.
I hope this helps you to make good decisions when buying cooking oils. If you’d like to review your food and or supplements, please call my office for a complimentary consultation.
For any questions regarding my articles, please email me at:
Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Accurate Care Medical Wellness Center
18261 N Pima Rd. Suite 115
Scottsdale, AZ 85255