Cooking Oils: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Cooking oils including vegetable, corn, canola, safflower, and soybean and are actually contributors inflammation, heart disease, depression, arthritis, and other ailments. There are a couple of reasons why this is.

  • First, these oils are high in omega-6 which we get too much of from our diet as it is. We need a very delicate balance of omega-3’s to omega-6’s in the body to keep inflammation and disease at bay. Our foods used to contain higher amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3’s, however due to the declining nutritional content and poor processing of food, the beneficial omega-3’s in our food supply is diminishing. So the bottom line is omega-6’s are inflammatory and consuming these oils increases omega-6’s in our body and brain and decreases the protective omega-3’s. (This is partly because they use the same metabolic pathways in the body.) In addition, taking an omega-3-6-9 supplement is usually not a good idea for most people because we already get so many omega-6’s from our diet. Most of the foods that we eat, especially processed or packaged of any kind, are rich in omega-6. Focus on increasing the omega-3’s.
  • Another reason why these oils are not good for our heart and health is that they are already rancid when we bring them home from the store. They are deodorized so you can not smell that they have gone rancid (which is in itself an endocrine disruptor.) Rancid, stale, or oxidized oils cause damage to cells and arteries and promote plaque growth. They are one of the main reasons why individuals get elevated LDL’s. Consuming rancid oils also destroys important vitamins including vitamin A, D, E, K, and the protective and anti-inflammatory omega-3.
  • These oils, along with hydrogenated oils found in packaged cookies, crackers, and peanut butter, are processed with chemicals, and toxic ingredients that can include pesticides, solvents, and metals. (Not only are these endocrine or hormone disruptor’s, but they are also contributors to heart disease and cholesterol issues.) Many of these chemicals are difficult to get out of the body and can lead to other ailments including depression, weight gain, and fatigue.
  • Oils that are better for heart health and inflammation in general include olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil, and butter or preferably ghee (clarified butter.) This also brings up the importance of not cooking good oils past their smoke point. This causes even good quality oils to be oxidized, or become unstable at the molecular level, like a ball of fire, leading to cell damage and inflammation in the body when we consume them.

Moderation is the key for all oils. Don’t get stuck using just one type of oil or fat because they all have different benefits. Good ones to alternate with include avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter or ghee.

  • Avocados and avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points at about 500 degrees. They are high in magnesium, B5, and potassium and is good for heart health and blood vessel function.
  • Coconut oil is great for brain and gut health and can improve cholesterol in some individuals. However, if you are on a statin or have been diagnosed with heart disease, coconut oil may not be the best choice. While it does raise good HDL cholesterol levels,it can also raise the bad LDL levels in some indviduals. It also should not be cooked past its smoke point of 350 degrees.
  • Olive oil is fantastic for the arteries and heart health, but it has to be a high quality one. Kirkland’s organic extra virgin olive oil and California Ranch Olive oil have been tested to be some of the best. Others, unfortunately have canola and other oils mixed in which are not good for cholesterol. The smoke point of olive oil is low at 200 degrees, so use it as a drizzle or dressing, and saute with chicken stock or avocado oil.