Hey! Looking to get healthier? Quit sugar they say. Want to lose more weight and heal your gut? Stop eating gluten and grain-filled items. What people often forget is the fact what kind of oils we cook, add, and eat our meals with is important as well as these two. In fact, I would call them a trifecta of unhealthy living (sugar, gluten, and bad oils).
Lately, we talked about gluten, dairy intolerance (here), and today we will talk about industrial oils. Why did I avoid sugar as another topic for these series? Well, it’s kind of common sense, right? Ditching sugar is becoming conventional wisdom, whereas gluten, dairy, and fats still continue to have many ongoing debates. Are you eating the healthiest oils for your body?
Cooking oils: the ugly truth
What’s wrong with oils that are often advertised in stores, you ask? It is the same deal with low-fat, high-carb, “skim” foods you can find in plenty everywhere. Conventional wisdom and cheaper products sold in stores are good business. Fat is "bad", and no one wants to spend a premium on something bad for us. The media and some dubious studies in the 70s have led us down a path that canola, soybean, and vegetable oils are good for you. Sugar and gluten myths are dying. This is attracting more people to try non-conventional methods of living (read: paleo, primal, and keto). The fat myths are diminishing but at a slower rate. What am I talking about?
⇒ The fact that low-fat diets have brought America to a level of 35% obesity rate in some states in 2015.
⇒ The fact that more people are struggling with inflammation and its side effects - 1.6 million of Americans suffering from IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is a terrifying number, and that's only one disease caused by chronic inflammation.
⇒ The oils sold the most in stores, and the "healthiest" option is often processed so much that many of the nutrients are removed. Additionally, the heat and other manufacturing processes make the oils to oxidize and dangerous to our health.
⇒ Omegas! The ratios of Omega 6s to Omega 3s are something we skip often. Consider this before buying anything guided by media and marketing in stores.
Unhealthiest cooking oils: consequences
What industrial oils am I referring too here? Cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, soybean, vegetable, corn, canola, and peanut oils to begin with. They:
- Need heavy processing (oil from cotton, can you imagine making that?)
- Have an unfavorable ratio of Omega 6s to Omega 3s
- Partially hydrogenated (chemicals added to solidify them and contain trans fats, the worst type).
On top of these properties, industrial oils
- Cause chronic inflammation in your body
- May lead to a suppressed immune system
- Can cause atherosclerosis and damaged bone health
- Increase LDL cholesterol levels
In the long run, industrial oils are as damaging as sugar and wheat. The scary part is…they are everywhere! In a salad dressing you picked from up from the shelf in your neighborhood supermarket. A local wing place you go every Sunday, and most any snack and boxed items you can buy.
It is one of the hardest parts to clean up of any diet. Navigating through a storm of ingredients on the label, and deciding to put in back on the shelf or not. It is hard but doable. You need to have a “healthy oils” list in your head (or on a paper). In a while, you will remember which ones are beneficial and healthy for you, and why.
Let’s look at the good guys now, shall we?
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How You Can Pick the Healthiest Oils for Optimal Health
One of top three oils for you to use for any purposes. First, coconut oil contains MCT – medium chain triglycerides, that shoot straight to your liver. This provides an instant source of energy. Secondly, this means you can eat fat to burn fat! Also, coconut oil is great for your heart, bones, and skin health as well as for digestive system. It is an incredible source of energy for your brain, and also known for lowering your bad cholesterol. My favorite brand is this one!
If you want to look like an Italian or any other Mediterranean beauty, eat up! They use a lot of cold-pressed olive oil (cold pressed is the key). It has plenty of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation. This helps your heart and contributes to preventing cancer. Also, it is known for its beauty effects on hair, skin, and nails. Make sure not to fry anything in it – use light olive oil for sauteing, and baking at low temps. Use extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings and toppings. Kasandrinos is really the best.
Avocado oil is one of my favorites. It will be yours once you try Primal Kitchen Avocado mayo (LINK). It has a lighter flavor than olive or coconut oil and is great for cooking at higher temperatures. Great for your health, it boosts nutrient absorption and is anti-inflammatory. It has a high concentration of monounsaturated fats, potassium, and vitamins A, E, and D and It is delicious. It is super good for your skin too.
Sesame seed oil
My personal favorite because of its flavor. I can't get enough of nutty, butter, bold flavor. It contains polyunsaturated fatty acids - sesamol and sesamin which helps your heart and lowers LDL cholesterol. It's anti-oxidative properties help protect your skin from aging. Use it less frequently as previous oils – as it has quite a lot of Polyunsaturated fatty acids in it. Additionally; it contains tyrosine – an amino acid known to help with anxiety and depression.
Seems like it can’t get nuttier than this one – although it is pretty light and flavorful:) It is fantastic for anti-aging prevention, skin, hair, and bone health. It is also known as a muscle stress reliever, a little helper to your digestion, stress, and energy levels.
Due to lots of alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), walnut oil helps to prevent heart disease. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and rich in phytonutrients. (magnesium, zinc, calcium selenium, phosphorus, and iron). Watch out for Omega-6s – balance the use of walnut oil with more Omega-3s satiated foods.
Macadamia nut oil
It has a ton of monounsaturated fatty acids. As macadamia nuts are SUPER nuts and powerhouse of love fat, macadamia oil has some fantastic benefits. It can boost your bone health, lower bad cholesterol, strengthen your immune system, and even help your eye health! This one is really good!
Palm oil is a well disregarded and abandoned friend, and it is actually not the worst choice. Moreover, it has plenty of vitamins and saturated fatty acids (we learned that saturated fat is not too bad for you, remember)? People disregard it because of too many discussions on its production and saturated fat content. Read more here. Pick red palm oil – it is sustainably produced and safer than others.
Get your printable oil guide here:
Overwhelmed? Ready to run to your pantry and say goodbye to the bad guys? Here are some directions for you not to get outraged during your purge.
1. Take it easy.
Buy one healthy oil, and stick to it (avocado or coconut has many applications). It can be expensive to replace ALL the oils in your household at once. You can give them away, or toss them. If it is too pricey for you, reduce the amount you use, and try to maximize the use of the healthiest oil. You can also find many of coconut oil applications besides from eating it.
2. Get fancy.
Try walnut or macadamia oil. Try new bold, and unusual flavors. Some of them are nutty, some are very strong and “in yo face”, but small amounts can be pretty enjoyable. Sesame oil is great for stir-frys, same come to walnut oil -it can be a great base for your salad dressing as well as macadamia oil. Yum!
3. Educate yourself!
Learning about poisonous oils will keep you from making poor decisions. Unless you reaaaaaallly don’t care about your health, but you would not be able to make it through this post then ;). For me, it is a dealbreaker. In addition, when I learn something, I find supporting information, facts, research reports, and that’s it. I can’t un-learn it, and I can’t keep going with the poisonous item/substance/food I learned about – I am not taking those chances. Some people are more loyal, and take the transition easier and longer. It is okay either way.
Make sure you check some solid resource libraries created by moguls of nutrition and health - Dr. Mark Hyman, Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, and Robb Wolf.
4. Substitute or avoid when eating out.
Don’t be timid and antsy. Ask your waiter to replace the cooking oil. Because every restaurant (unless it's McDonald’s) has some olive oil and butter. No, you don’t have to do it every single time you dine out – sometimes it is okay to let go and free yourself from worries about homogenized oils. In conclusion, the more you care, though, the better your path your health will take.
What are your personal favorites?
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