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Whole Foods Market

Why Rancid 'Healthy' Oils Are More Dangerous Than the Bad Oils

Written by Print  E-mail

People tend to thoughtfully consider the nutritional value of the cooking oils that they choose, but the rancidity of oils is actually of greater importance. Whenever an oil is heated enough, it undergoes a chemical breakdown, which leads to it becoming rancid. The heat-induced process sometimes transforms healthy oils into dangerous oils. This happens regardless of the original nutrient content.

Every oil has a smoke point. This is the temperature at which the nutritional content of an oil begins rapidly degrading. The smoke point is when oils become harmful, and it is when they begin actually emitting smoke, which is often more toxic than the destroyed oil. Every time an oil is reused, its smoke point temperature is lowered, because it has already undergone some break-down from previous uses. The reuse of oils is one of the main reasons why eating at restaurants is discouraged, because the oils will be bad in even restaurants that purchase healthy oils. Although, it is not often that they do.

Canola oil is always the worst choice, because it becomes toxic long before it reaches its smoke point. This is information that has been somewhat obscured from public view. We are outraged about the situation with canola, and its wide-scale promotion by Whole Food's Market, which also promotes hormone-destroying soy as well. The high rates of lung cancer in China are largely due to the use of canola oil and rapeseed oil, despite the country's low cigarette smoking rate. "Vegetable oil" once referred to corn oil, but now it usually refers to soybean and canola oil; so beware whenever you see "vegetable oil" on a label.

The low smoke point of flax seed oil is the reason why we recommend avoiding most so-called "healthy" foods that include flax. Flax oil becomes rancid much faster than other oils when exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. Thus, those 'healthy' flax-enriched foods are likely to destroy the arteries faster than anything else, and to eventually cause cancer. We still recommend flax oil supplements, but only when the oil has been properly cold-pressed, and packaged to protect it from heat, light, and oxygen. The same rancidity issues are also true for other oils that are high in omega-3. Omega oils are very unstable, so baked goods that boast about containing omega-3 are always rancid and should be avoided.

We recommend peanut oil for high-heat cooking, and olive oil for everything else. By high heat, we mean such temperatures that may be obtained from cooking in a wok or a deep fryer. Both olive oil and coconut oil are known for their health benefits and nutritional value, but both need lower temperatures. Coconut oil should only be used in low heat or no heat recipes.

If you are searching for something like butter, then simply use butter. Butter is actually a healthy substance that is full of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals which are difficult to obtain from other sources. The best type of butter is organic, unsalted, yellow butter, which is more nutrient dense than standard butter. Natural butter, in moderation, will do much more good than harm; contrary to what your doctor may have told you. Butter can be used whenever extreme heat is not required. Never use margarine or other artificial fats. Margarine is a butter imitation that was created by the chemical industry, and it is largely responsible for the soaring rates of heart disease, which natural saturated fats like butter have been blamed for.

Please note, concerning the following table, that oils marked as "refined" are the standard versions that are sold in most grocery stores, and these tend to have lower nutritional values. The inclusion of an oil in the list is not a recommendation from us. We would never promote the use of canola or soy, for example. We generally recommend against corn oil too, in part because it is genetically engineered, like soy and canola.

 

Type of Oil Smoke Point in Degrees Fahrenheit
Canola oil (refined retail variety) 470
Extra-light olive oil 468
Canola oil (expeller pressed) 464
Pomace olive oil 460
Palm oil 455
Coconut oil (refined retail variety) 450
Corn oil (refined retail variety) 450
Peanut oil (refined retail variety) 450
Safflower oil (refined retail variety) 450
Soybean Oil (refined retail variety) 450
Sunflower Oil (refined retail variety) 450
Hazelnut oil 430
Virgin olive oil 420
Low acidity extra virgin olive oil 405
Walnut oil (refined retail variety) 400
Extra virgin olive oil 375
Coconut oil (unrefined) 350
Hemp oil 330
Peanut oil (unrefined) 320
Walnut oil (unrefined) 320
Flax seed oil 225
Safflower oil (unrefined) 225
Sunflower Oil (unrefined) 225

Sources include Christian Chefs, Illinois University, and Cooking For Engineers.

 

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Comments (6)
  • Sid Aust

    The Oils are ruined... That is the reason for the cancer and heart problems..It has to do with the exchange of oxygen to the cells as cells need oxygen. Oil is taken out of the oils to get long shelf life...We are giving ourselves cancer and don't even know...I have written a cancer resource based on Brian Peskin's book called The Hidden Story Of Cancer. I give it away for free..This research needs to be in your hands.

  • Valerie Knopf  - Peanut Oil

    I'm wondering if I'm misunderstanding you. You are recommending Peanut oil for high heat cooking, but it seems to be fairly low on the chart with a smoke point of 320 degrees?

  • Sarah C. Corriher (H.W. Researcher)
    avatar

    We recommend using the peanut oil that can be found at standard retailers ("refined peanut oil"), which has a smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Valerie Knopf

    Thanks for the clarification. I purchased some peanut oil at the grocery store, and it doesn't specify "refined", but I guess I can assume it is.

    I'm not sure this is the appropriate place for this 2nd question, so I apologize if it is:
    I'm considering making a soft butter spread for my family. The recipe I found uses butter and grapseed oil. I haven't found the grapeseed oil (and wonder if it is a 'good' oil to use?). Or, would you suggest another oil? Coconut oil maybe?
    Thank you.

  • Sarah C. Corriher (H.W. Researcher)
    avatar

    Yeah, unrefined is so rare that it will actually say "unrefined" on the package. Grapeseed oil is a good oil for low heat cooking. If you are just going to be spreading it on bread, you should be fine. It even has some health benefits.

  • Valerie Knopf

    Thanks!
    I'll keep looking for the grapeseed oil.


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