When it comes to natural oils, knowing which oils are good for you and which are bad can make a great deal of difference to the foundation of your diet. However, choosing the right oils can be like trying to navigate a minefield - one oil that you thought was good for you could actually be working against you, bringing you down.
When it comes to natural oils, knowing which oils are good for you and which are bad can make a great deal of difference to the foundation of your diet. However, choosing the right oils can be like trying to navigate a minefield - one oil that you thought was good for you could actually be working against you, bringing you down. Sometimes it is this fear of bad oils that can cause people to try and cut them out of their diets completely. Often they are associated with grease and unhealthy meals. Yet this is largely a misconception, and many oils contain very potent and hard to find health benefits, which can be a great boon to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The following outlines the oils to include in your life, and those you should try to avoid.
Probably one of the most publicized healthy oils, fish oils, such as cod liver oil, contain an extremely high omega-3 content. Omega-3 has been shown to help protect the mind from degenerative disease, protect vision and act as a preventative measure to oral and skin cancer.
Flax oil is a great source of both linoleic fatty acids, omega-3 and lignans. Lignans help the body metabolize estrogenic in both men and women – helping prevent breast and prostate cancer. It is also thought that lignans may also help the digestive system, supporting the lining of the intestines.
Note: Flax oil is very temperature sensitive and must be sorted in a cool dark fridge. Do not ever heat flax oil, it will destroy its beneficial content.
Coconut oil contains saturated fats able to withstand moderate heats without becoming oxidized/carcinogenic. Although most people tend to shy away from saturated fats, natural, unprocessed varieties are actually essential to a smooth running body. This particular saturated fat contains a large amount of medium chain fatty acids, which are easier for the body to breakdown and use as energy instead of storing them as fat. Not only this, coconut oil helps boost the metabolism and fight of viral infections – all whilst tasting great.
First things first, palm oil is seen as a very controversial ingredient. This is down to the fact that gigantic swathes of tropical rainforests are destroyed every day to harvest it – destroying habitats and adding the world’s dwindling supply of forest. If you decide to obtain any of this oil, ensure that it is from a sustainable and ethical source. In terms of its health benefits, palm oil is much like coconut oil, in that it contains a good portion of medium chain fatty acids. It is also heat resistant and a rich source of vitamin E.
As you would probably imagine, walnut oil has a very rich nutty flavor - which perfectly complements a fresh salad. It is extremely rich in beneficial compounds, but at the same time spoils easily and cannot tolerate heat, making it an oil of two extremes. Walnut oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and B, niacin, phytonutrients, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. It also contains a healthy amount of ellagic acid, which is a powerful anti-oxidant.
This oil is a family staple and often used for shallow frying food in, or as a dressing. It contains monounsaturated fats which are known to help lower cholesterol and help control blood sugar levels. It is often anecdotally believed that this is why those who live in the Mediterranean traditionally live such long and healthy lives, as olive oil is involved in all aspects of their diet. Whether this is true or not doesn’t change the fact that including a bit of olive oil in your life is good for you. It is not very tolerant to heat though, and is best severed ‘raw’.
Avocado oil contains much of the same benefits as olive oil, with the extra addition of vitamin E and a much higher smoking point – making it suitable for cooking.
Hempseed oil is probably hands down one of the healthiest oils out there. It has a smooth, nutty flavor and is absolutely brimming with beneficial qualities. Most notably, hempseed oil is 25% protein, and it is a complete all-encompassing protein perfectly balanced for the human body. It is also rich in vitamin E, improves organ function, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, supports healthy skin and hair, acts as a preventative measure against degenerative disease and reduces inflammation – it’s got quite a lot going for it!
A household favorite, sunflower oils is actually very bad for you. It goes through a great deal of processing, which causes oxidization and increased risk of spoiling. Sunflower oil also has a very high omega-6 content and low omega-3 content. When these fatty acids are out of balance, it can cause cardiovascular problems as well as increase the severity of any inflammation. Although you may be used to using this oil in your cooking, you are best off ditching it in favor of something a bit healthier.
Soybean oil is a very unstable oil that goes through high amounts of processing to increase its shelf life. The nature of soybean oil also limits thyroid function and is very rich in phytoestrogens – which can be harmful to men.
One of the worst oils about. Cottonseed oil goes through heavy processing, is extremely unstable, contains natural toxins, and often has pesticide residue in it. Keep well away from it.
Canola oil is often sold and advertised as a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acid, but in reality, it tends to be very far from that. Canola oil is made from rapeseed, which goes through heavy processing that includes the use of petroleum solvents in order to extract the oil. It is also heated to extreme temperatures during the processing, meaning that by the time it is actually ready to be sold, the omega-3 acids are all but useless.
This oil is often used in industrial food processing, and is high in omega-6 acids whilst being low in omega-3. As mentioned before, this imbalance can cause problems within the body.
Peanut oil is a particularly nasty oil that should be avoided wherever possible. It contains lectins, which have an anti-nutrient quality to them. They extremely hard for the body to digest, and can cause all sorts of problems, namely inflammation. Peanut oil is also rich in omega 6 fatty acids and very low in omega-3. Another imbalance that can cause problems within the body.