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Which Oils Are Healthy, Anyway?

Now we know; not all fat is bad. So, which ones do we eat??

Enough of the back and forth

Please don't be confused by the fat controversy in recent decades.

I'm working on a post busting the MYTH of cholesterol and saturated fat being dietary villains.

In the meantime, I know there is a ton of confusion over unsaturated fats.

A little help understanding what makes fat saturated versus unsaturated.

Which are good, which cause inflammation?

I snagged this off Dr. Cate's website. She wrote Deep Nutrition, which I highly recommend if you'd like to take a nerdy, dive deep into genetics and ancestral-style living and eating for optimal health.

The only thing I don't agree with here is the palm oil. Let's protect our orangutans, please!

Say bye to palm oil, commonly found in processed foods.

Of course, if you have an intolerance to a plant, you shouldn't consume it's oil.

For example, many people are sensitive to peanut oil.

Why the distinction?

Oxidized fat.

Most of the oils in the "don't eat" section is are filled with PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids), when these are exposed to chemical stress in the body, easily breaking down into components that will polymerize.

This is the same process by which furniture varnish, made from linseed and soy oil hardens into a shiny top coat. Varnish might make your furniture sparkle, but it does no favors for your brain, arteries, or mitochondria. 


The double bonds in PUFAs make them highly reactive, and easily oxidized.

We do need some PUFAs in our diet. When we consume them in their whole, natural form they're packaged with antioxidants to protect us. Sunflower, flax, and chia seeds are viable sources in their whole form.

When oils are industrially processed to create this vegetable oils, they lose more than the protective antioxidants. They're made more reactive by exposing to heat, pressure, metals, and bleaching.

The result is toxic for human consumption.

The damage? A slow death by free radicals that act on our mitochondria, enzymes, hormone receptors, and DNA.


Although our diets DO contain too much omega-6, as you may have heard, that's not why you should stay clear of these fats. Both fats containing omega-3 and omega-6 can have detrimental effects.

Omega-3s, generally speaking, contain more double bonds. This makes them more reactive than omega-6s. That's why omega-3-rich canola oil is even more reactive than omega-6-rich soy oil.

((soy is detrimental for other reasons, but that's a post for another day))

Our brains are made of roughly equal parts omega-3 and 6, we need both.

But most Standard American Diets are swayed towards the omega-6 end of the spectrum.

How did we end up here?

  1. Most industrial food products and restaurants use vegetable oils mostly comprise of soy. 
  2. The industrial animals we consume are fed corn, cottonseed oil, and soy. This leads to low quality animal fat. 

Cooking oils

Be sure to use oils with a high smoke point for cooking. Not only does it make your food taste better, it also protects your body from free radical damage.


  1. Butter
  2. Lard
  3. Sesame 
  4. Peanut, if you tolerate legumes

The bottom line?

Any commercial vegetable oil is too much vegetable oil.

Source quality meat when eating fatty cuts.

Consume whole food fats, instead of processed, as much as possible.

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