The "Skinny" on oils


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Cooking at high temperatures can damage oils. The more omega 3 fatty acids in the oil, the less suitable it is for cooking. The heat not only damages the fatty acids, it can also change them into harmful substances. Hydrogenated oils are often used for cooking. Because these oil have already been "damaged" by chemical processing, they are less likely to be further damaged by heat. The oils that are higher in saturated fats or monounsaturates are the most stable when heated. These include peanut oil and olive oil. The more fragile oils are best used at room temperature, like salad dressings. To preserve the nutritious properties and the flavor of unrefined oils, try the "wet-sauté," a technique that is practiced by gourmet chefs. Pour around one-fourth of a cup of water in the stirfry pan and heat just below boiling. Then add the food and cook it a bit before adding the oil. Wet-sauté shortens the time an oil is in contact with a hot pan. Stir frequently to further reduce the time the oil is in contact with the hot metal. Never heat oils to the smoking point, as this not only damages their fatty acid content, but also their taste. Best cooking oils and fats are: butter, peanut oil, high oleic sunflower oil, high oleic safflower oil, sesame oil, and olive oil.


Whole-Food Oil Sources
Whenever possible, eat the food, such as fish or seeds, rather than the extracted oil. These foods contain other vital nutrients in addition to the energy-producing fats and healthy fatty acids.


If you are buying oil in large quantities, it should be stored in dark bottles. Clear glass or plastic bottles allow light to penetrate the oil and oxidize the fatty acids in a chemical process similar to metal rusting. If the oil comes in a clear bottle, wrap it with a dark covering. Keep the lid on tightly between uses, as contact with air will affect the quality of the oil. Purchase in small quantities, and use within a month or two. The healthier the oil, the more quickly it spoils. Store oils in a cool, dark place. Unrefined oils spoil more easily when exposed to warm temperatures, so they need to be refrigerated if you are not going to use them right away. An exception to this is olive oil, which need not be refrigerated. It is high in oleic acid and contains antioxidants which slow spoiling. Other cooking oils, such as safflower, sunflower, and corn, are high in linolenic acid and are quick to spoil.


It's definitely worthwhile to pay extra for organic oils. Many oils come from plants that are sprayed with pesticides, which are usually fat-soluble, and thus concentrate in the oil portion of the plant. One of the safest oils is extra virgin oil, which is not refined or deodorized, and may even be organically grown.


The already lax label laws are even more slippery when it comes to oils. Avoid oil that is labeled simply "vegetable oil." A consumer has a right to know which vegetables are used in the oil. Ditto that caution for "all purpose" vegetable oils. Chances are that the manufacturer used the inexpensive, highly processed oils, such as cottonseed oil, to fill up the bottle. Labels do not usually list the types of fatty acid the oil contains, for example, how much omega 3's and how much omega 6's. Ideally, the label should state whether the oil was chemically extracted or mechanically pressed. Consumers have the right to know if they are possibly eating chemical residues. If the label doesn't tell you how the oil was produced, you can assume the worse.
Don't be misled by the "no cholesterol" label on the oil container. Being a plant food, oils don't contain cholesterol. And avoid any oil that has the bad fat word "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" on the label.


Hydrogenated fats and oils raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower the HDL (good) cholesterol. Some polyunsaturated oils tend to reduce blood levels of both HDL and LDL. Flax oil and monounsaturated oils, like olive and canola oils, reduce only the bad cholesterol without lowering the good cholesterol.


Remember that oils are liquid fats. Even oils that rank high on the "best oils" list still average 120 calories per tablespoon. Use even these oils sparingly. Pour the oil into a spoon first, and then sprinkle it on your salad or put it in the stir-fry pan. You'll use less oil if you don't pour it directly from the bottle.


The goal of a "right fat" diet is to eat the right amount of the right kinds of oil. We have used these criteria for evaluating the various types of oil:

the percentage of essential fatty acids in the oil
the percentage of unsaturated versus saturated fats (i.e., how heart-healthy the oil is)
the effect on blood cholesterol (i.e., whether the oil raises or lowers cholesterol, especially in cholesterol-sensitive persons).
other proven health benefits of the oil
likelihood of pesticide residues being left in the oil during processing
how processing procedures affect the nutritional qualities of the oil
The fact that some oils rank higher than others does not mean that you should consume only the one or two at the top of the list. Balance is still the key to good nutrition, and nutrition depends on variety.


1. Flaxseed

Best source of omega 3 fatty acids; has heart- healthy properties; is a colon-friendly oil; lessens constipation; boosts immunity; promotes healthy skin; contains the healthy phytonutrient, lignin; spoils quickly without careful storage; not to be used in cooking

2. Canola
One of the lowest oils in saturated fats, making it a heart-friendly oil; a rich source of essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

3. Soybean
Contains both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, but is often highly refined and hydrogenated.

4. Olive oil (virgin or extra virgin)
Doesn't need high temperature or chemical processing, since it is made from the flesh of the olive and not the seed; slow to spoil; okay for medium-temperature cooking; in moderation lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol without affecting HDL, (good) cholesterol thereby improving the HDL-to-LDL ratio.

5. Pumpkin seed
Low in saturated fats; rich in omega-6 fatty acids, may contain some omega 3's; refining and chemical processing lowers the nutritional qualities.


1. Safflower
Low in saturated fats, rich in omega 6 fatty acids.

2. Sunflower
Rich in omega 6 fatty acids.

3. Corn
Slightly higher in saturated fats than the best oils; usually hydrogenated; rich source of omega 6 fatty acids

4. Peanut
Somewhat high in saturated fats but still less than butter, animal fat, and cottonseed oil; good for cooking at higher temperatures.


1. Cottonseed
High in saturated fats; likely to contain pesticide residues; frequently hydrogenated.

2. Palm kernel
High in saturated fats, therefore a potentially cholesterol-raising oil.

3. Coconut
Highest in saturated fats of all popular oils; one of the most heart-unhealthy oils.



This oil originated in Canada and has became known as the Canadian oil, or canola. Canola oil is second only to flaxseed oil as the highest vegetable source of the essential omega-3 fatty acids. Like flax oil, it contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but in a different ratio. Canola oil contains an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2:1. Flax oil is 0.3 to

1. Because it contains one of the highest ratios of unsaturated to saturated fats, it is one of the most heart-healthy oils, reported to reduce cholesterol levels, lower serum tryglyceride levels, and keep platelets from sticking together. Because of the high omega-3 content, heating canola oil above 120? may change some of the fatty acids into trans fats, which raise total cholesterol and lower the levels of good cholesterol. Be sure to buy organic canola oil, since the rapeseeds are often sprayed with pesticides.


Olive oil is made from the flesh of olives rather than the seeds. This means it requires less pressure and lower temperatures during the pressing process, which preserves the nutritional qualities of the oil. Olive oil contains 90 percent unsaturated fats, most of which are the cholesterol-lowering monounsaturates. Olive oil, which by its very nature doesn't need to be processed, is the only oil that can be obtained directly from the flesh of the vegetable and not the seed. This makes olive oil a good choice for your heart. Because it is high in oleic acid and low in linoleic fatty acid, it is slow to spoil. It has a pleasant flavor and can be used both in salad dressings and in cooking. Olive oil is a favorite in Mediterranean cuisine, since olive groves and olive presses are plentiful in that part of the world. Its only drawback is that it contains little omega 3 or omega 6 essential fatty acids. "Virgin" olive oil means that the oil is from the first pressing and has not been refined or chemically processed in any way, such as being bleached or hydrogenated. "Extra virgin" is the highest quality olive oil (for which you pay a slightly higher price). It has a richer, less acidic taste. High temperature cooking destroys the flavor of olive oil, but it is excellent for dressings and the "wet-sauté" method. Avoid olive oil that does not say "virgin" or "extra virgin" on the label, but instead boasts of being "refined" or "pure." "Refined" means that the oil has been chemically processed. "Pure" means nothing more than the oil came from an olive. Even though olive oil is slow to spoil, store it in a cool, dark place in the cupboard. Olive oil is medium in omega 6, but low in omega 3 fatty acids. A combination of flax oil and olive oil in the diet strikes a healthy balance.


Soybean oil is extracted from beans, not seeds. Unrefined soybean oil is one of the richest sources of lecithin (2 percent) and also contains 5 to 7 percent of the omega 3 linolenic acid (LNA), in addition to being high in the omega 6 essential fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA). In the unrefined state, soy oil is rich in both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, yet most commercial soy oils are refined and hydrogenated. Because it has a high boiling point, it is okay for cooking.


Go Right to the Seed
The seeds from which popular oils are extracted (e.g., nuts and sunflower seeds) are more nutritious than the oils that are extracted from the seeds. Papaya seeds, for example, which are usually discarded, are nutritious when ground like pepper and sprinkled on salad.


This is one of the most healthful oils for several reasons. High-quality pumpkin seed oil contains over 90 percent unsaturated fats and has both omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids in a 3- to-1 ratio. It contains from zero to fifteen percent linolenic acid and from 45 to 60 percent linoleic acid. Unfortunately, the most commonly available pumpkin oil contains no linolenic acid (omega-3).


Algae oil is the richest source of DHA available, with 40 percent DHA by weight. Algae are the dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids for fish, so algae represents the only vegetable source of DHA available. Algae oil is the source of the highest quality DHA supplements


Another extremely healthful oil, at least on paper, containing both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in a 10-to-1 ratio. It is 84 percent unsaturated. However, most available walnut oil is sold in a refined state.


These are popular "health oils" because they are rich sources of the essential fatty acid GLA (gammalinolenic acid), a vital ingredient for making important hormones, such as prostaglandins. Black currant oil has two advantages over evening primrose oil: It is less expensive, and it is one of the few oils that contain omega-3 in addition to omega-6 fatty acids. While these oils have been touted as cure-alls for many ailments, scientific evaluation of these oils yields mixed results. And the fact that they are extracted by chemical processing may render these tonics less healthy than advertised. Critics of these oils claim that since the body produces its own GLA from essential fatty acids contained in many foods, GLA supplements are not necessary. Proponents of these oils claim that some people, especially aging persons, may be unable to convert dietary essential fatty acids to GLA. GLA-containing oils, as well as the essential fatty acid DHA, are popular ingredients of a flurry of brain-boosting nutrients collectively known as "targeted nutritional intervention" (TNI) and are being studied for use in children with Down Syndrome.


These oils are rich in vitamin E. Because these oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids and contain no omega 3's, they are less nutritious than canola and flax oils. Even though they contain 90 percent unsaturated fats, they tend to be highly refined oils. Because the high oleic acid variety of these oils is least damaged by heat, they tend to be favorite cooking oils.


Even though this popular oil contains mostly unsaturated fat, it is higher in saturated fats than most other oils and is usually highly refined and hydrogenated. Like other polysaturated oils, corn oil does lower total cholesterol. While it lowers LDL, it also lowers HDL cholesterol a bit, yet the result is still an improved HDL-to-LDL ratio. It is not one of the more nutritious oils.


Peanut oil is a favorite cooking oil, especially in stir-fries. Since it is relatively high in saturated fats, which do not turn into trans fatty acids when heated to normal cooking temperatures, it is more useful as a cooking oil than oils that are lower in saturates and higher in omega 3 fatty acids.


Cottonseed oil is one of the most widely used oils, added to many processed foods, such as cereals and potato chips. It is relatively inexpensive and is readily available. Yet, it merits its place on our list of worst oils for several reasons. Cotton is a crop that is heavily sprayed with pesticides, so cottonseed oil may be loaded with pesticides. And, like tropical oils, cottonseed oil is low in monounsaturated fats and high in saturated fats. Also, cottonseed oils are likely to be hydrogenated to further extend its shelf life.


Oils such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel are the least healthful naturally-occurring oils. Yet because they are inexpensive, taste good, and have a long shelf life, they are frequently used in packaged foods such as cereal and cookies. Coconut oil, for example, is the ideal oil to use in chocolate candy, since it is solid at room temperature, but melts in the mouth. Food processors, especially in the candy industry, separate the tropical oils so that they don't have to list them collectively as "tropical oils" on the label, possibly tipping off consumers to the fact that they are eating a cholesterol-raising fat. Don't be misled by the white label lie "contains no cholesterol." Plant foods don't contain cholesterol. But coconut oil, for example, is high in the saturated fat lauric acid, one of the most heart-unhealthy fats.


Mineral oil is a commonly used laxative. However, it has no nutritional value, and with prolonged use may deplete the intestines of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as decrease the absorption of the valuable minerals calcium and phosphorus. A healthy alternative is flax oil, which not only has laxative properties, but is a valuable source of nutrition as well. Unlike mineral oil which slides through the intestines, possibly taking vitamins with it, flax oil is a nutrient that facilitates absorption of the above vitamins.


A trick we have used to fortify our little ketchup lovers is to mix fruit- sweetened ketchup with flax oil. Put a dollop of ketchup on a plate, make an opening in the center, pour in 1 to 3 teaspoons of flax oil, and mix together well. The oily taste is gone.


Oils are liquid fats. Most commercial oils come from plant sources, such as nuts and seeds. Oils are an important part of a balanced diet because, besides being a rich source of energy, they provide essential fatty acids which are the building blocks for cell membranes, especially cells in growing brains. Oils help the body absorb certain vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K, and contribute to healthier skin. And oils carry and intensify flavors in food and give it a pleasurable feel in the mouth.
Most oils come from the seeds of plants, which are crushed and pressed to remove the oil. Heat can damage oils and alter the fatty acids, creating harmful substances, so the best oils are produced with minimal heat. This is called cold pressing. However, when you see the term "cold-pressed" on a label, don't assume that the oil in the bottle was not heated during manufacturing. "Cold-pressed" is a little fib that appeals to consumers who are savvy enough to equate heating with damage to oils. The problem is that the term has no chemical, legal, or technological definition, and it means something different to a manufacturer than it does to the consumer. To a manufacturer, cold-pressed simply means that no external heat was applied during the pressing of the oil, yet the press itself, which comes in contact with the oil, may become quite hot anyway and damage the oil. A more informative label would state the temperature at which the oil was processed, which ideally should be below 110 degrees. The words "omegaflow process" on a label means that the oil has been protected from reaching high temperatures during processing.
Most of the oils you'll find in the supermarket have not only been extracted with heat or solvents, but have also been refined with potentially toxic substances. These processes improve shelf life and make oil cheap to produce, but they take the product further away from its natural state and leave chemical residues behind. If the label does not boast that the oil is "unrefined," you can assume that it has been through some kind of chemical process that makes it worse for your health.

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No mention of grape seed oil?
I noticed that also. I use it ALL the time!

It has a high smoke point so it's great for frying.

Grapeseed Oil Nutrition Facts

Grapeseed oil is beneficial for many medicinal problems. Let's take a look at the list which illustrates the grapeseed oil nutrition.
  • Grapeseed oil reduces LDL (bad Cholesterol) and increases HDL (good cholesterol), which in turn helps in keeping your arteries clear.
  • Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9 are the fatty acids found in grapeseed oil. These fatty acids benefit us by forestalling any heart diseases and influence the biological properties in our body. Read more about Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
  • Grape seed oil contains high levels of Vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It aids in preventing any cell membrane related injuries.
  • Grapeseed oil helps the immune system and increases the blood circulation as well.
  • After any surgery or an injury, grapeseed oil reduces the swelling faster than any other medicines.
  • Flavonoids found in grape seed oil work to inflect cell-signaling pathways. Oregon State University states, "The Flavonoids have an antioxidant behavior that responds to iron and copper that bond to proteins". Read more about flavonoids health benefits.

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