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3 Healthy Oils You Need in Your Diet

By Edited Nov 21, 2015 8 12
Coconut Oil
Credit: Tom Woodward via Wiki Commons

One of the problems with the modern western diet is that we consume the wrong kinds of fats. Fats are not bad for you, nor do they make you fat. The body and brain actually need fat to perform at their peak and to keep you from being grumpy.

However, not every type of fat will do the job effectively. It is like putting the right kind of gasoline in your automobile. 

The “fats are bad” message began somewhere around the 1970s when the US government started pushing their recommended daily diet through a new food pyramid that was developed and released in 1979.[3]

Within the pyramid, grains and cereals were at the bottom because of their fiber content and as you progressed to the tip of the pyramid, you finally were allowed a few scraps of fat. This diet recommendation could not have been more wrong.

If fact, it is so wrong and so opposite of what we should be doing, that it is scandalous. The original food pyramid recommended by dieticians and food scientists looked very different than what the government released in the end. They actually recommended more of a balanced diet with more fats. So what happened?

Well between the recommendation and the review process, the agricultural lobby got a hold of it and politicians changed it to recommend more bread and corn and things they could make money on because all of those things were being processed into other foods.

The Food Stamp Program also played a role because they wanted people to be able to purchase more of those processed, cheaper foods so their money would go further.[5]

So how can we stop this trend?

By going back to what used to work for our grandparents and generations before them. They ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, butter, oils and nuts, basically all of the things that we were told to avoid in favor of a bowl of cereal or a bagel.

Certain fats can be bad for you of course. And you do not want to go on a complete fat diet in large quantities, nor do you want to mix it with the wrong foods, like bread and butter, or in a broader sense, refined carbohydrates and butter. The combination of the two is what is bad, not necessarily the fat itself.[6]

If we return to eating a balanced, natural diet that includes good fats and whole foods like non starchy vegetables, we can reverse these destructive national trends.

People that are interested in improving their health should consume healthy fats like those found in natural oils.

So what are the healthiest cooking oils?

This article lists three of the best ones you can use for cooking or simply adding as a topping on vegetables or smoothies. All of them provide essential omega-3 fats which the average American is lacking.[7]

What is the Healthiest Cooking Oil?

Coconut Oil Uses

Use Coconut Oil for Cooking
Credit: mjpyro

If there is such a thing as the healthiest cooking oil, it would have to be coconut oil. It is my favorite oil and it has so many uses beyond cooking.

The problem with most oils when you use them for cooking is that at a certain temperature, they turn unhealthy. This point of heat resistance is called the smoke point. 

However, coconut oil has one of the highest smoke points of any oil making it ideal for sautéing anything over a heat source. 

Regarding the health benefits of coconut oil, ninety plus percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated but they are considered healthy fats called medium-chain triglycerides (M.C.T.)[1]

Without going too far into the weeds, MCT contain lauric acid which has been shown to be antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral.[1]

When cooking with coconut oil, I place it in a sauce pan on the stove and allow it to melt and sizzle a bit before adding my meat or veggies, typically chicken, steaks or hamburgers.

Some people like to cook using extra virgin olive oil, but I will tell you why that is a bad idea in the next section.

Furthermore, this oil is a natural remedy for many ailments within the body and external to the body because of its antibacterial properties.[1] In fact, most lotions and some hair products have coconut as their base.

If you only use one oil that is high in fat, choose this one because it has the most upside. Just make sure you get extra virgin coconut oil or the cold pressed kind for the best cooking oil.

How Much Coconut Oil for Weight Loss

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 15 Ounce (Pack of 2)
Amazon Price: $24.06 $16.01 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 21, 2015)

Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive Oil Health Benefits
Credit: Carmelo Domini via Wikimedia Commons

There has been so much written about extra virgin olive oil that you probably have some idea of all of its benefits. One of my favorite ways to use it is to pour it over vegetables on my plate. It is particularly good on green beans or black eyed peas, but I use it on everything.

As with coconut oil, it is high in omega-3s and along with walnuts, are one of the best sources to get those in your diet.[4]

One of the things you need to be careful with if you are cooking with olive oil is exposing it to high temperatures. As mentioned in the previous section, there is something called a smoke point at which oil turns not only smoky in your kitchen but also unhealthy to eat, and unfortunately, extra virgin olive oil has a very low threshold so heating olive oil is not a good idea.

I usually cook with coconut oil, then use olive oil on simmer for example, if I am adding bell peppers or tomatoes to my chicken. I would recommend adding it to whatever you cook in this matter, or simply keep a bottle on the table with you as you would salt and pepper.

Never Cook with Extra Virgin Oil

Flaxseed Benefits

Flax Seed Oil
Credit: mjpyro

Components in flax seed oil called lignans have been shown to protect against certain types of cancers that attack the endocrine system.[2]

Regarding flax seed nutrition, they too are high in omega-3s , but also have a balance of omega-6s and omega-9s, all good in moderation for your body.

This is not one you want to cook with though because of the low smoke point. Just keep it in the

Flaxseed Benefits
refrigerator and use it on salads or cooked vegetables. If you do not have the oil, you can also use flax seeds also in your diet.

Simply grind them up in a coffee grinder and use the powder in smoothies to get the health benefits of flax seeds. You can even bake with it as a flour substitute.

Final Thoughts

The bulging of this nation started about four decades ago right around the time that disastrous food pyramid was released to the public. Suddenly all saturated fats were bad and everything became about calories and fat-free products.

Soft drinks and sugary cereals use exploded as the snack industry bombarded us with fat-free cookies The result has been weight gain, skyrocketing rates of diabetes, especially in children, and increased rates of heart disease and various types of cancer.

There are certain types of highly refined and processed oils that you definitely want to stay away from like canola or vegetable oil. Whatever health benefit those once had are long gone by the time they reach your table. Unfortunately, this is what is used to prepare most of the processed foods in our diets.

Take your health into your own hands. Spend more time at the edges of the supermarket, not the middle sections where all of the processed foods are located. Try to get more of these healthy omega-3 fats into your diet. I think you will see your cravings go down, as well as your weight.

Cook with Flaxseed Oil

Barlean's Organic Oils High Lignan Flax Oil, 16-Ounce Bottle
Amazon Price: $20.95 $17.79 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 21, 2015)


Mar 12, 2014 6:58am
You are absolutely correct. So many of our modern health problems can be traced to diet, and consumption of the wrong oils. I'm pinning this to one of my healthy living boards.
Mar 13, 2014 10:54pm
Yes you are right mjpyro. Being Italian, I grew up hearing that extra virgin oil is the best for everything. Of course we now know that although olive oil is perfect for salads, it's not good when heated up. Only in the last few years, I have learnt to use coconut oil for the food that needs cooking or frying.
Apr 6, 2014 1:39am
I haven't tried cooking with coconut oil because I thought it might leave a coconut taste in food. However, you said you use it to cook chicken and other meat. I am going to try it, because I know it's healthy.
Apr 6, 2014 1:47am
You won't be able to taste it. I put a scoop in my smoothie sometimes. Coconut oil, even when it is solid at room temperature, really has no taste. But if you are concerned, once the meat is brown, lower the heat to a simmer, then pour some some extra virgin olive oil on it.
Apr 7, 2014 5:17pm
I'm adding coconut and flaxseed oil to my shopping list! Thanks for sharing!
Apr 8, 2014 10:24am
Actually *raw* or virgin coconut oil definitely does have a coconut flavour - which is handy when adding it to smoothies. Processed coconut oil though has no aftertaste, that is true - which makes it very handy for cooking.
Apr 13, 2014 3:18pm
Faye, I use the Nutriva brand shown in the article and I add it to everything including frying meat or a spoonful in a smoothie. Honestly, I can't taste a coconut flavor. However, if I dipped some out in a spoon and ate it like that, I probably would agree with you.
Apr 23, 2014 12:22pm
Great Info and Links! Thanks
May 11, 2014 11:17pm
Nice article! Coconut oil in my morning cup of black coffee....love it! :)
May 28, 2014 4:45am
couldn't agree more about the food pyramid, it's a fallacy
Oct 26, 2014 5:03am
If you want to get more info on that food pyramid and how it all came to be, check out my review of the book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us on the site.
Dec 29, 2014 3:06am
I only cook with coconut oil too. thanks
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  1. "Confused About What Coconut Oil to Purchase?." Wilderness Family. 10/03/2014 <Web >
  2. "Flaxseed Oil." University of Maryland Medical Center. 10/03/2014 <Web >
  3. "The history of the food pyramid." Washington Post. 28/04/2014 <Web >
  4. "Olive oil, extra virgin ." The World's Healthiest Foods. 28/04/2014 <Web >
  5. USDA Food Guide: Background and Development. Washington DC, PDF: US Department of Agriculture, 1993.
  6. " The worst food combination for weight loss." Metabolic Effectg. 23/01/2015 <Web >
  7. "Typical North American Diet Is Deficient In Omega-3 Fatty Acids." Science Daily. 23/01/2015 <Web >

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