You may not even realize that many common cooking oils are harmful. Or that these oils are present in most processed foods and are commonly used at restaurants. But they are one of the major reasons our omega-3 to omega-6 ratios are out of whack.
Ok, let me back up and start from the beginning. Our bodies thrive off a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Our ancestors averaged a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 anywhere from 1:1 to 1:3. But now in our modern day diets, we usually have an average ratio of anywhere from 1:10 to 1:20, meaning we’re getting way too much omega-6 in our diets. These unbalanced ratios lead to inflammation and inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, cancer, autoimmune disease, and the list goes on. (source)
So, where is all of this omega-6 coming from?? It’s coming from processed vegetable and seed oils, processed foods and grain-fed meats. I’ve discussed before the importance of buying grass-fed meats. It may cost you a little more, but your health will thank you. We found a local farm that sells grass-fed beef and pork for a much better price than large chain grocery stores. Do some research around you and you might be able to find the same thing!
Cooking Oils To Stay Away From:
Highly processed vegetable and seed oils are not only high in omega-6, causing our ratios to become unbalanced, but they’re also prone to oxidation and rancidity. Meaning they can have a toxic affect on our bodies. Here are some of the major offenders to stay away from:
- canola oil
- corn oil
- cottonseed oil
- grape seed oil
- soybean oil
- safflower oil
- sunflower oil
- vegetable oil
So, what oils should we use? Healthy cooking oils don’t contain as much omega-6, are more stable and less processed. Also, when buying refined oils look for expeller-pressed or cold pressed. This means that the oils are extracted without using heat and chemicals, which gives you an even healthier oil.
Healthy Cooking Oils:
- almond oil
- avocado oil
- coconut oil
- duck fat, tallow, lard
- ghee (clarified butter, lactose has been removed)
- hazelnut oil
- macadamia oil
- olive oil
- sesame oil
There is another factor to consider, smoking points. Every oil has a different smoking point or temperature at which it gives off smoke and starts to break down and oxidize, losing nutrients and developing toxic properties. This simply means that some oils are better for cold use and others are better for hot use.
Here’s a simple breakdown of which oils are best for hot use and cold use.
I personally do most of my cooking with lard. It has a high smoking point and is good for savory foods. Check out this post from Mommypotamus on how to render your own lard. Hint: You can follow the same process with beef fat to make tallow. I also love using coconut oil and grass-fed butter for baking and extra virgin olive oil for salads and condiments.
I know cooking with lard may sound a little scary, especially if you’re still a believer in the low-fat culture, but saturated fats are actually very good for us. Just check out this article from Chris Kresser for more proof.
So, this is where the push for making your own meals and condiments comes in. Most restaurants use harmful vegetable and seed oils and it’s pretty hard to find condiments made with healthy oils. Although I have seen peanut butter made with coconut oil and mayonnaise made with olive oil.
Sometimes you have to do a little searching and a lot of reading labels. But hopefully this will help keep you more informed and you’ll know what to look for when you’re reading those labels. I know I personally used to be so overwhelmed! I’d turn the bottle over and didn’t even know what I was looking for, but it’s become much easier now that I’ve identified what oils are healthy and safe.
Make it easy on yourself and start simple. Toss the canola oil and pick up some duck fat to cook with. Your body will thank you.
What oils do you like to cook with? What healthy oil is your go-to?
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