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The Good Oil!

Heart, General | June 13, 2017 | Author: Naturopath


The Good Oil!

It can be confusing nowadays to know which oil to use for what. The fact that we do like to eat our foods cooked rather than raw leads us to try and determine which oil to use when. Of course if it doesn’t taste good, it won’t matter how beneficial it is for us. Oils are not all the same!

Oils that are good for us

Firstly we have to pick the best oils for our health. Some oils have been found to be beneficial for our cardiovascular system, our brains and our skin. So these are the ones we want to use first and more often.

Most oils are mixtures of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The ones considered best for our health are those richest in the monounsaturated fats (olive, canola and peanut) and polyunsaturated fats (safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean). These are your vegetable oils and olive oils. But it doesn’t end there, the next question is how much nutrition do they contain and in the case of oils, its antioxidant value. Antioxidants help us fight disease. The more antioxidant a food contains, the more valuable it is. This is where Olive oil wins.

The stability of oil

All fats can become rancid when exposed to oxygen - oxidation. You can generally tell oil has become rancid by its taste and smell. To avoid this happening you can seal it tight, place it in a dark container and refrigerate it. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to buy oil this way. So some manufactures will add anti-oxidants to their product to help preserve it. Another not so healthy way is to hydrogenate the oil. This is when the oil becomes spreadable - goes from a bottle to a tub. This process makes polyunsaturated oil more saturated. Another disadvantage is that some of the molecules that remain after processing change configuration and become trans - fatty acids. These are the ones concerning us with heart disease.

the good oil fryingOils for cooking

The main concern in using the right oil for cooking is its heating temperature.

When oil starts to smoke you have begun to destroy its nutritional content. If you over-heat oil it becomes oxidized, making it potentially dangerous. The smoking point varies with oils and is not predetermined, but based on the quality of the oil.

The more you use an oil the lower the smoking point becomes, so it is recommended not to re- use oil.

High temperature cooking - (stir-frying and sautéing)

Sunflower, canola and vegetable oil blends (canola and soybean oil). Other good choices for high-heat cooking include light olive oil, sesame oil and rice bran oil. Remembering that extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest oil to use.

Note: cooking at high temperatures is not necessarily recommended due to the possible negative health benefits such as obesity and heart disease.

Lower temperature - pan frying and baking, choose olive oil, canola, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, avocado and macadamia.

Oils for dressing - based on flavour of course some suggestions are olive oil, flaxseed, walnut, coconut oil, macadamia or avocado oils.

the good oil olive oilIf the saturated fat content is above 20 grams per 100 gram it may be worth looking for an alternative oil to use.

Extra virgin olive oil is considered the healthiest oil available due to the way it is processed and its high nutritional value, high in antioxidants and zero trans fatty acids. It has many uses. Choose cold pressed and a good quality.

A bit about Ghee

Ghee, also known as clarified butter (a preparation made from cream), has been utilized for thousands of years in Ayurveda as a therapeutic agent. In ancient India, ghee was the preferred cooking oil. Recently there was a concern that the use of ghee was the contributing factor to an increase in heart disease in the population, but the data available “does not support a conclusion of harmful effects of the moderate consumption of ghee in the general population”. It is believed the use of a vegetable ghee (Vanaspati) which contains 40% trans fatty acids may be responsible for an increase in the incidence of Coronary artery disease, along with stress, insulin resistance and change in diet.

Research findings in the literature support the beneficial effects of ghee outlined in the ancient Ayurvedic texts and the therapeutic use of ghee for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Ghee is an ideal fat for deep frying because its smoke point (where its molecules begin to break down) is 250 °C (482 °F), which is well above typical cooking temperatures of around 200 °C (392 °F) and above that of most vegetable oils.

Oils for health

Most people don’t realise that we need our lipids (oils and fats). It is only when we consume too much or too little that we can have a problem.

Lipids provide energy, insulate the body against temperature extremes, protect against shock and are important for the structure of cells. The most important fatty acids to nutrition are the polyunsaturated ones. Omega 3 and 6 are long- chain fatty acids (EFA’s) are members of this group. They regulate blood pressure, clotting, inflammation, support eye and brain health among many other functions for health.

Essential fatty acids are basically, essential for health and have to be provided by the diet. Without getting too technical examples of these are CLA (full fat milk and processed cheese), GLA (evening primrose oil, AA (meat), EPA and DHA (fish oil, flaxseed oil and walnut oil). Eating a variety of foods will help provide a balance of these essential fats.

the good oil avocadoOleic acid is the most common monounsaturated long chain fatty acid (LCFA) in human cells. It is found in most fats and oil - (almond, avocado and olive oils). Good for the inside and as a topical skin oil too.

Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA’s) are good for our health too. These are butter, coconut and palm kernel oil. Coconut oil is especially rich in fatty acids. 

These particular fatty acids

  • decrease brain cerebral excitability
  • provide energy
  • improve the effectiveness of ketogenic diets 
  • protect EFA’s and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PULFA) from oxidation
  • help move omega 3’s from adipose (fat) tissue to the brain
  • help to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance
  • increase thermogenesis and metabolic rate helping with weight reduction

The negatives to using these:

Milk fat and dairy products, meat and palm oil can raise total cholesterol, meat and palm oil can promote cancer growth.

The take home is the quality of the oil that can make all the difference to its health benefits.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Whitney, Cataldo, Rolfes, (2002) Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition 6th Edition, Wadsworth, USA Fried food consumption, genetic risk, and body mass index: gene-diet interaction analysis in three US cohort studies. Olive oil stability under deep-frying conditions The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels and microsomal lipid peroxidation

Osiecki H, The Nutrient Bible 9th edition, Bio Concepts Publishing pg. 270-272

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