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Fats and Oils

Summary: Eat fresh raw oils as found in raw nuts, many vegetables, and some fruits. Avoid hydrogenated oils (in processed foods and margarine) and trans fats (fried foods and highly processed oils). Use extra virgin olive oil, butter, Smart Balance, or Spectrum's spread. For high heat cooking, use saturated non-hydrogenated oils, like ghee or coconut oil, or if they are not available, Smart Balance cooking oil. If not enough essential fatty acids (EFAs) are included in the diet, consider an EFA supplement.

Eating well can provide adequate amounts of essential fatty acids, also known as EFAs. It can be difficult, though, unless one eats nuts. Most EFAs are damaged by high heat, so cooking or processing them, as in most oils one sees in the supermarket, may not just be an inadequate source, these damages oils can be harmful to the health. More in depth information is provided in Introduction to Fats and Oils.

The typical diet usually includes enough omega 6 oils, but there are few good sources for undamaged ones such as raw almonds, avocados, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. There are small amounts in other food sources, usually vegetables, and some in meat. It is far harder, and usually more important, to consume adequate omega 3 oils. The best sources are flax seeds, walnuts, some eggs, some wild games, and fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. Pumpkins seeds and hemp seeds are sources of both omega 3 and omega 6 oils, and in a good ratio. Raw hulled pumpkin seeds can be found at many markets and health food stores. There is some debate about eating cooked fish as an omega 3 oils source. Some think that the oil may be damaged by the excessive heat, but others contend that as long as the temperature is kept below that of boiling, that the omega 3 oils are undamaged.

The best solution for most people for insurance is to get a supply of raw nuts and eat a couple tablespoons each day. A good mix would consist of equal amounts of raw almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, and eat two to four tablespoons per day. Add a few brazil nuts (not many) for a source of some undamaged omega 9 oil. This is a non-essential fatty acid, but still useful for some body functions, plus brazil nuts are the highest natural source of selenium. Eat one or two per day.

Some people take additional measures to ensure adequate consumption of EFAs, especially omega 3s, and use an EFA supplement such as flax oil, fish oil, or a blend of omega 3 and 6. These are discussed in the EFA Supplements section.

Update on this old article: When this web page was first written, the scientific and medical communities and the food industry were still saying hydrogenated oils and trans fats were healthier than saturated fats.They did so for many decades, based on studies funded by industry groups and obviously conducted by either incompetent or corrupt scientists and doctors. As of 2013, the FDA removed its GRAS (generally recognized as safe (to eat)) designation for hydrogenated oils and now even Crisco is formulated with saturated fat instead of hydrogenated oil and healthy enough to eat. Just think, in a decade perhaps movie theaters will go back to using safe palm and coconut oils to cook popcorn, and fast food will go back to using lard, instead of oils more easily damaged by heat since perhaps they will no longer be bullied by the medical community and government to serve us damaged, but politically correct, oils.

Additional Information

Introduction to Fats and Oils

Problems with Canola Oil?

Essential Fatty Acid Metabolism provides a technical discussion and a diagram on how EFAs are used in the body and what factors affect their use.


Hydrogenated Oils -The Silent Killers by David Lawrence Dewey has information about trans fats and other damaged oils. He also has many links to information on this topic

Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill is a book written by Uda Erasmus that provides in-depth technical aspects on the subject.

Salad Dressing Recipes - it is so hard to find really healthy salad dressings made with extra virgin olive oil in markets, so here are some recipes.








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