I have rewritten this after personally choosing to follow a very low oil diet in 2020 and high fish consumption. I did this and successfully reduced my cholesterol and autoimmune markers dramatically and feel fantastic. In dropping oils right down and reading all labels to avoid all canola, vegetable oils and sunflower oil in my consumed food is what has made the difference. Learning about nutrition and reading labels is so important.
What is healthy oil for you and your family?
To answer this question I need to teach you about the different types of oils.
Polyunsaturated fats(omega 6)
Polyunsaturated oils (omega 6) or PUFA oils became very popular in the 1960's, when polyunsaturated margarine took over from the common butter. I actually believe this was not a good thing.The margarines where not made of healthy fats and are still very processed. Then in learning genetic wellness it appears that with certain genetics some people are best, like myself, to keep the PUFA oils very low for successful health results particularly cardiovascular and brain health.
When it is suggested for you to reduce the PUFA in the diet to help prevent cardiovascular issues the first to leave out would be the margarine and vegetable oils. It also means to try and increase the omega 3 oils which are found in fish. It is suggested we need about 2:1 ration of Omega -6 to Omega 3 but in reality the average diet is 15:1. To confuse things further there can be a mixture of oils in each food too like in an average size avocado - monounsaturated( omega 9) 10g, polyunsaturated ( omega 6 ) 1.8g, saturated fat 2.1g. Hence it is not easy to categorise each food into each section. It upsets me a lot to see how many canola, veggie oils and sunflower oils are added to biscuits, cereals, dips and so many processed foods.
Some common PUFA ( Omega 6 )oils are:
Most vegetable oils
Blackcurrant seed oil 80% ( 18% GLA)
Rapeseed or canola oil 24%
Hemp oil 54%
Soybean oil 56%
Cottonseed oil 56%
Sunflower seed oil 68%
Trans fats or hydrogenated oils
Corn oil 59%
Wheat germ oil 53%
Canola oil 24%
Safflower oil 78%
Pumpkin seeds oil 60%
Walnut oil 58% ( 3% GLA)
The best thing to do if your body is not great with polyunsaturated oils is speak to your practitioner and reduce dramatically the plant based oils and focus on increasing your fish consumption.
Monounsaturated fats (omega 9)
Monounsaturated fats or Omega 9 is a non essential fatty acid and is produced naturally by the body. However if you do not have enough of the omega 3 consumed then you ideally should consume foods that contain omega 9 in your diet. The simplest way to increase this oil is with cold pressed olive oil. These oils have been shown to increase HDL which is the known good cholesterol and decreases the LDL ( bad cholesterol).
Trans Fats and Hydrogenation
Two further more issues with oils that need to be discussed here is rancidity of oil and hydrogenated cooking oils. Rancid oils happen when some oils get hot or are reused more than once. Rancid oils are dangerous to the body and cause what people call free radical damage to cells. During World War 1 a process called hydrogenation was developed as a solution. Hydrogenation is a defined as hydrogen gas being pumped through a natural oil. Another word you may have heard for this is TRANS FATS. Sadly in this process OMEGA sources are destroyed. In our body some of our requirements are the essential omega oils and having said this consuming hydrogenated oil can cause depletion of essential fats.
People get very confused about oils as most oils have a mixture of saturated oils, monounsaturated oils and polyunsaturated oils in different ratios and so it is not a clear cut list of types of oils. There was a time in nutritional knowledge where fats where taught to be BAD but in fact natural fats are GOOD for us. Cholesterol is also taught to be bad but a certain amount of cholesterol is important for shielding the spinal cord and all of the nerves, including the brain. The omega 3, 6, 9 that we talk of are three of the more well known subgroups of fats or oils. Fats ( omegas) can be found in plants, animals, poultry, fish, fish liver, fruit seeds, nuts, berry seeds, flower seeds, dairy and eggs. Wild organic animals, poultry and fish contain a much healthier source of omega oils than creatures that are fed processed grains( grains instead of grass etc.) or by products of natural foods. The same goes for plants where soils have been contaminated with chemical enhancers, hormonal enhances, antibiotics, herbicides or pesticides. Modern ways of farming alters the quality of the food and the quality of the fat nutritionally when we consume them. Fat is a natural holding ground for toxins. Therefor if we eat fats from foods laden with toxins then we are not eating for the gain of nutrition but in complete contrast purely adding unwanted toxins into your body. There are enough burdens to compromise health without adding more issues with unhealthy fats.
Still now, due to availability and the cheep price, many processed foods and restaurants readily use hydrogenated cooking oils; food condiments, doughnuts, frozen pizza, margarine, dips, biscuits, take away foods, fried foods. This is a compelling argument for home made foods and reading labels.
When I first studied oils and looked for what I wanted to use in my cooking I read a book called Hamptons Diet by Dr. Fred Pescatore. In order to establish the best oil for consumption i looked for the nutrition of the oil and then to the heat and the level of oxidation. The Smoke Point is the point at which the oil becomes oxidised. The smoke point of oil is the temperature at which it stops shimmering and starts smoking. The smoke point is also called the burning point of oil and can range from relatively low 325 F to very high (520 F)
When you cook with oil that's been heated past its smoke point, you do more than impart a burnt flavour to foods. Beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals found in many unrefined oils are destroyed when the oil is overheated. Overheating also creates harmful free radicals.
Olive oil is great for heart health. Olive oil is said to raise healthy HDL and lower LDL. Olive oil is fairly resistant to heat. Make sure you choose the extra virgin olive oil for it is more nutritious than a refined olive oil.
It can last months to years with out going rancid, It is high in Lauric Acid so great for pathogens, improves good cholesterol. It is used in deodorants and great for oil pulling and toothpaste and whitening teeth.