Vegetable Oil: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

When my great friend texted me who has been switching over their food to more organic and whole, God made foods, and asked about a good alternative to canola oil, I knew a blog post needed to happen.

Oils have gotten a bad rap. The “science” is so back and forth between which oils and fats are good for us and which aren’t. The reality is, there IS toxic oils and there is beneficial oils. Oils are apart of the macro family of fats and they provide a concentrated energy source as well as the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones. We ALL need fats. In fact, fats are better energy sources than protein or carbohydrates. The kicker is, we need quality, unprocessed fats, in the right amounts. Which breaks down to quality, unprocessed oils, in the right amounts.

However, and thats a HUGE however, excess fats and oils can be a problem. What’s not used is stored in the liver, arteries and heart, and in all other tissue. Cancer, obesity, and heart attacks are linked to high fat consumption because of the systemic (or overall bodily) inflammation it causes. Our westernized diet has placed too high of in importance on fats, and all the wrong kind.

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There are different kinds of fats: polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, saturated fats, trans fats, and hydrogenated fats. We can even break them further into omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids. Theres no need to go into the science of it here, but the gist is:
Bad oils
Canola, peanut, palm, cottonseed, margarine, oleo, any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils

Good oils
Olive, walnut, avocado, almond, sesame, coconut, ghee, butter

The easiest way to make sure you are getting the GOOD oils instead of the bad oils, is to cook your own food. My absolute favorite oils are coconut oil for high heat cooking or baking, avocado oil for medium to high heat cooking, olive oil for low or no heat cooking (like salad dressings), and ghee in place of butter (especially for those that are dairy free or dairy intolerant) for cooking and baking. I typically use these 4 oils because they are easily sourced and I am able to get them organic, unrefined, and inexpensively.

Think of oil like a condiment instead of a main part of your meal. You’ll get plenty of fats though things like avocados, nuts and nut butters, legumes, coconut cream and milk in your smoothies, hemp seeds, chia seeds, fish, grass fed meats, etc. Oils are great in moderation and as a drizzle here and tablespoon there for cooking or baking but the majority of your fats should be obtained from the food you consume.

Lastly, really watch your processed foods. Chips, crackers, and other processed baked goods have added oils in them and they aren’t the good kind. Jacksons Honest makes an amazing chip that is cooked in coconut oil and some organic cracker companies like Simple Mills don’t use any oils at all. If you are going to get processed foods, just watch your ingredients and find brands that support a healthy diet and lifestyle and are organic/nongmo.

So what’s so bad about the other types of “bad oils”? What makes them bad? They are high in cholesterol (the bad kind), they are often bleached, deodorized, and removed by solvent extraction (ew!), and then they can even have synthetic vitamin-like substances that your body doesn’t recognize added back to them. Not to mention they are high in carcinogens, can harden the arteries and so much more! Really, oils should be one of the first and easiest changes you can make when you start eating the dose wholeness way.

I’m confident, once you replace your harmful vegetable oils with powerful, anti-inflammatory oils and fats like coconut, avocado, or ghee, you will not even miss the bad stuff.