By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
May 25, 2015
- Do you really know what the healthiest cooking oils are?
- Or are you buying rancid oils devoid of nutrition?
- Here are the top oils for your pantry
Even if you don’t eat much fried food, it’s a sure bet you have some type of cooking oil in your pantry. You might even have several different kinds of oils, using certain ones for specific purposes.
For example, you might have a bottle of vegetable oil that you reserve for general frying. Or maybe it’s safflower, sunflower or canola oil, which you may have heard is healthier. These are all inexpensive oils that are easy to keep on hand for those few occasions when you want fried fish, chicken or fries.
In the meantime, there’s a good chance you have a bottle of pricey extra virgin olive oil tucked away, too. That’s the good stuff. I find that many folks save it for salad dressings, marinades and special occasions.
But when it comes right down to it, do you really know what the healthiest oils are – and which ones should never be in your kitchen cabinet?
Well, here’s a shocker. Most of the cooking oils on your grocer’s shelves are processed to death.
They’re rancid, contain unhealthy fats and offer very little when it comes to nutritional value. In fact, there’s a greater chance they’re damaging your health than doing it any good. And they might be sapping the life right out of you.
You see, there are two things that cause oil to go rancid. Heat and light. Both of these events cause oils to oxidize.
Now, when oils are refined, they go through multiple heat baths. This, it itself, is going to destroy any nutritional benefit and cause oxidation. And while those clear bottles filled with buttery looking liquid may look appealing, the exposure to light is further degrading the oils.
Worse yet, many people reuse cooking oil time after time. Each time you heat it, it oxidizes even further. Plus, heating makes the oils produce trans fats.
These fats create high levels of inflammation, increase bad LDL levels and cause healthy HDL to drop. They’re also associated with a harmful increase in small, dense LDL particles that can slip through the lining of your blood vessels and cause plaque to build up.
At the same time, most cooking oils are high on omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids promote inflammation. And inflammation is an underlying cause of heart disease.
Yet, certain oils can be healthy.
So what’s your best bet?
My top choice of cooking oils, as always, is cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. It’s a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet and is shown to offer multiple health benefits.
Extra virgin olive oil is chock-full of natural antioxidants called polyphenols. These compounds can literally change the expression of genes that influence your risk of heart disease and plaque build-up in the arteries.
Polyphenols also repress proinflammatory genes. And since almost all chronic diseases today are linked to inflammation, this gives olive oil a powerful role in the fight against aging.
Extra virgin olive oil also contains another compound called oleocanthal. This incredible antioxidant boosts production of proteins and enzymes that are critical in removing beta amyloid – a key factor in Alzheimer’s – from the brain.
It’s easy to see why I’m a big fan of olive oil.
But there are other good choices, too.
These include cold-pressed, organic and unrefined coconut, sesame, palm fruit, avocado and sesame seed oil. If you can find “extra virgin” versions, it’s all the better. And make sure they’re shielded from light in dark bottles to prevent further oxidation.
However, none of these oils should be used for deep-frying.
And truth be told, deep-fried foods are the worst you can eat. You can destroy the nutritional value of wild-caught fish and organic pasture-raised poultry in a heartbeat when you throw them in a vat of any type of hot oil.
Remember, the hotter the oil, the more degraded and rancid it becomes! So my recommendation is to avoid frying all foods.
Additionally, stay away from the deadlier oils – including soy, canola, sunflower, corn, vegetable and safflower. They’re likely over-processed, and have no place in your kitchen cabinet. Some of them, such as soy and corn, may also be manufactured from GMO seeds, which makes them an even worse threat.
And never, EVER, save your oil for repeated use!
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Mozaffarian D, et al. Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;63 Suppl 2:S5-21.
V. Konstantinidou, et al. In vivo nutrigenomic effects of virgin olive oil polyphenols within the frame of the Mediterranean diet: a randomized controlled trial. The FASEB Journal, 2010.
Antonio Camargo, et al. Gene expression changes in mononuclear cells from patients with metabolic syndrome after acute intake of phenol-rich virgin olive oil. BMC Genomics, 2010.
Ramón Estruch, et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 2013.
Nancy Babio, et al. Mediterranean diets and metabolic syndrome status in the PREDIMED randomized trial. CMAJ, October 2014.
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