These days, there’s no shortage of options for cooking oils on supermarket shelves and online. However, some that sound healthy are actually terrible for your health, while other lesser known varieties really enhance your physical well-being. It’s important t know which oils to ditch completely, which to use sparingly, the ones to use for cooking, and others to reserve for dressings and drizzles. A little oil here and there might not seem like a big deal, but trust us…this is one health rumor that’s legit and has serious long-term consequences. If you know anything about inflammation (which we hope you do if you follow the 131 Method), inflammatory oils top our list of “must-ditch” foods. Inflamed bodies become more susceptible to disease and mental illness. In order to live longer and avoid health catastrophes, take some serious notes and follow our suggestions.
Oils on the Must-Ditch List
Not more than a couple decades ago, canola oil was all the rage. Seemingly healthy because it’s a type of vegetable oil, consumers flocked to it when many misinformed doctors began vilifying all saturated fat and scaring the public. And while it does contain a fair amount of monounsaturated fats and low saturated fat, it’s highly processed. Most consumer-purchased canola oil gets extracted through a process called “hexane solvent extraction.” This process damages it, oxidizes it and raises trans fat content (1). To create it, crude oil is extracted from rape seeds, then gets refined, bleached and deodorized. YUCK! The high heat from production causes it to go rancid, hence the need for bleach and deodorizers.
The direct impact on your health results from increased inflammation due to the ratio of omegas. Ideally we should be at a 4:1 omega 6:3 ratio. Unfortunately, canola oil’s composition (due to conversions of ALA to EPA) makes it more like an 8:1. Chronic inflammation leads to Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke! So get those omegas in check! Furthermore, over 90% of U.S. produced canola is genetically modified. Reports have shown that canola oil leads to neurological issues, kidney, and liver problems (2).
When was the last time you ate an oily vegetable? Does it make any sense, then, that jugs of oil come from any vegetable? Typically the vegetable varieties contain a blend of sources like canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm and sunflower oils. Vegetable oils are highly refined and processed, stripped not only of flavor, but nutrients. “Processed oils have been pushed past their heat tolerance and have become rancid in the processing” (3). Vegetable oils are polyunsaturated fats. You should want more monounsaturated (think olive oil), than poly. Why? Well, consumed fat becomes part of cell membranes. Polyunsaturated fats are more susceptible to oxidation (think rusting inside your body). So, if these highly degraded compounds become part of your cells and body, you’re basically walking around with harmful, aging compounds.
Like the two previous cooking oils mentioned, soy comes highly processed. What’s worse, soy is highly sprayed with pesticides, meaning, you ingest these harmful chemicals (which were patented as antibiotics- AKA glyphosate/RoundUp), with every drop. Corn crops suffer from the same problem!
This one may come as a shock. But, at 70% omega 6 fatty acid, this becomes a fast ditch! Marketers promote this one as a “pure” high smoke point cooking oil, but the reality is scary. “Most grapseed oil is industrially processed with hexane and other toxic, carcinogenic solvents used to extract and clean the oil, with traces of these chemicals remaining in the final product (4).” So even though it contains a healthy dose of vitamin E, it’s not worth all the PUFAs! Get vitamin E from nuts, seeds and green veggies instead!
Thankfully, the government did us a solid by exposing the negative health impacts of trans fats. But for years, people swapped butter for margarine, and in the process, caused irreparable heart damage to an entire generation. So now, the margarine brands on the market contain little to know trans fats. However, they’re still composed of primarily corn, canola and soybean oils. Do yourself a favor and just use ghee, butter or coconut oil.
The Omega 6 Numbers at a Glance:
- Vegetable- 51.4%
The Best Cooking Oils
That leaves us with the wins…the oils to keep at arm’s reach in your kitchen.
Ghee is a rich clarified butter with a high smoke point. Since the milk solids get removed from ghee, so too do casein and lactose, typically the elements in dairy that many people are sensitive to. Rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, it also contains CLA, which is protective against cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes (5). With a smoke point of 425-485°F, you’re safe with ghee at high temps to avoid carcinogen producing substances.
Well, if you follow our recipes and blogs, this must be our most reported-on/used oil. We love it. Gone are the fears of saturated fat. Despite what one doctor said (that caused a ridiculous mini-hysteria), this oil remains a safe and wise choice. Worth noting, however, not all coconut oil has a high smoke point, despite the blanket statement that it does. Virgin, raw or unrefined is pretty low (280°-365°F), so reserve it for baking, fudge and fat bombs. Refined coconut oil’s smoke point reaches 400°-450°F. So use refined for cooking. Check out a bunch of uses for it here.
We love when Dr. Gundry says “the only reason to eat food is to get olive oil in your mouth.” This super duper food contains antioxidants that combat inflammation. Use it to drizzle and make dressings because the smoke point is rather low at 320°-350°F. However, Dr. Gundry disagrees and says it’s totally fine to cook with it.
Another 131 Method fave- we love the mild flavor of this higher smoke point oil. High in vitamin E, sterolins and monounsaturated fats, this cooking oil is great across the board: as a drizzle, dressing or cooking. Benefits of this oil include cancer prevention, healthy joints and eyes and overall health. Smoke point=475°-520°F.
Check out our homemade mayonnaise recipe using 3/4 cup of delicious (and healthy) avocado oil.
Oils to use in Moderation, if at All:
You may be wondering about a few of your favorites, specific to certain dishes, like sesame oil for Asian fare, walnut oil for baking and peanut for Thai dishes. These oils, plus flax seed, safflaower and sunflower oils fall into that unhealthy omega ratio and/or have really low smoke points. Rather than spend a lot of money on oils you can only use once in a while, invest in just a few organic, high quality oils, and use them often.