Cooking with Healthy Oils – Is it time for an oil change?
The number one disease killer in the United States is heart disease which is partly attributed to unhealthy oils. Damaged fats including hydrogenated oils aid in the development of heart disease. Healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oil and grape seed oil are incredible alternatives that will not only help you avoid heart disease, but keep you healthy and thriving.
Low-Fat Diets vs. Vital Fat Your Body Needs
The fear of weight gain has caused most of us to think that all fat is bad. Oil is a fat – so many of us avoid it. However, while it’s true that some fats and oils are dangerous for your health, it’s inaccurate to lump them all together. Not all fats are bad; some are actually very beneficial.
Healthy Oils include olive oil, avocado oil, raw walnut oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, flax oil, and grape seed oil. They provide your body with the nutrients it needs to build cell membranes, absorb vitamins, cushion vital organs, protect you from extreme temperatures, build hormones, lower inflammation, and make up 70% of your brain tissue.
Dangerous Oils are those which have become altered in the process of extracting them from their sources, or as they are assimilated by your body, or during the manufacturing process as in the case of hydrogenated oils (trans fats). These oils have no place in your diet! Since your body can not recognize or metabolize these fats, they naturally contribute to weight gain by clinging to cell membranes and preventing cellular detoxification. Beyond the concern of weight loss, these damaged fats also adhere to arterial walls, cause inflammation, damage and contribute to heart attacks and stroke. Dangerous oils include hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and vegetable oils, specifically canola oil.
Hydrogenated Oils – the world is waking up to the realization that altering foods is harmful to consumers. Hydrogen, forced into otherwise non-hydrogenated oils, causes these fats to become more stable at room temperature, thereby extending the shelf life of candy bars and packaged foods. However, this process also changes the composition of fats from a state that can be recognized by your body, to one that can not be recognized, and as a result may have deadly consequences. Never purchase any product that reads “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredients label. Beware of labels that read “trans fat free,” because manufacturers can modify serving sizes to meet “trans fat free” standards, while still loading their products with hydrogenated oils.
Vegetable oil is processed by chemical extraction using solvent extracts that will produce quick, cheap, and high yields of oil to be used in foods. Vegetable oil’s primary uses include adding texture and flavor to foods. Vegetable oils are found in nearly every packaged food and salad dressing in the grocery store. They include soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, and others simply labeled as “vegetable oil.”
Vegetables aren’t unhealthy – but their oils become harmful when they are unnaturally extracted from their sources. Not only do vegetable oils have a very unbalanced ratio of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3 fats, which is associated with elevated inflammation and obstructed blood flow, but they become rancid or decompose easily by exposure to air, heat, or light, causing them to oxidize and form free radicals. This process is unquestionably related to cancer. The chemical breakdown destroys the nutrients your body needs, creating a compound that is hazardous to your health. Vegetable oil belongs in the vegetable, not in your box of crackers or your frying pan.
Canola oil needs special attention – this oil does not occur in nature. In fact, there is no such thing as a wild canola plant growing anywhere on our planet. Canola oil is a genetic manipulation of rapeseed oil, altered to reduce its levels of toxic erucic acid. Originally called “Lear” oil, standing for “Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed” oil, the name was changed to the more consumer-friendly “Canola” oil, meaning “Canadian Oil Low Acid.” Canola oil is man-made, which negates our first principle of sustainable nutrition, which is to select foods in their most natural state. Avoid canola oil in your diet at all costs.
Margarine – whether your margarine is made from trans fats or vegetable oils, it falls into the category of damaged fats and should be avoided. Alternatively, butter, which has been consumed by cultures for hundreds of years without any elevated risk of heart disease, contains arachidonic acid and conjugated linoleic acid, vital for brain function and fat metabolism. Butter is also much closer to its natural source and state – making it a superior choice over margarine.
Cooking with oils:
High heat – Use only coconut oil, olive oil, or grape seed oil for frying. The best choice is coconut oil because of its superior flavor when frying food such as chicken, not to mention its health benefits! Olive oil, while just as healthy, tends to make food soggy rather than crispy. A word of caution regarding olive oil: it will decompose when heated above 120°F. If any of these oil “smoke” in the cooking process, they have already turned rancid.
Medium heat – To sauté foods, use sesame oil, olive oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil, butter or clarified butter (ghee). Note: butter has turned rancid once it browns.
Baking – Butter, coconut oil, sunflower, safflower or olive oil can be used in baking if the temperature is less than 325°F. In a hotter oven, only use butter, olive oil or coconut oil. If coating a pan or cookie sheet use only coconut oil or grape seed oil.
Cooking with flax oil vs. flax seed meal – Cold-pressed oils such as flax oil and hemp seed oil should never be heated or used for frying, but can be added to foods once they are cooked. These healthy oils can be added to stews, soups, sauces, salad dressings, casseroles, and nut butter, adding nutritional value and flavor. They should be refrigerated at all times.
Although flax oil, once extracted, should never be heated on its own, numerous studies have shown flax seeds and ground flax meal (aka milled flax seeds) to be very stable when cooked. Even when baked at 350 degrees for 1 hour, there are no changes to the peroxide values or fatty acid composition – making ground flax meal an excellent and acceptable substitute for flour in Maximized Living Advanced Plan recipes.
Healthy Oil Supplementation
Clearly, fat is North America’s #1 missing ingredient. If you’re eating a standard commercial diet that consists of very little grass-fed meat, omega-3 eggs, walnuts, avocado, or fish, then you need to supplement the missing omega-3s in your diet. You need good fats – and lots of them – in the healthy ratios your body uses for function. The natural solution for this problem is daily supplementation with healthy fats and oils.
However, beware of two problems associated with omega-3 supplementation: It’s now common to overdo omega-3 supplementation and end up creating the opposite problem, “omega-3 dominance.” The other risk of fish oil supplementation is mercury contamination from toxic waters. Therefore, the best Omega-3 supplements will give your body the ideal ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, and come from a blend of plant and fish sources, having been molecularly-filtered for optimum purity.
The Maximized Living Approach
The Maximized Living whole-health approach will help you learn about the benefits of healthy oils. Our advanced workshops on preventing heart disease, family recipe nights and personal nutrition programs teach you easy ways to eat healthy. From a chiropractic perspective, our doctors utilize structural X-rays to identify areas of spinal subluxations. Subluxations causing diminished nerve supply and interfering with the brain’s ability to regulate digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body should always be evaluated in one’s whole-body approach to improving their health, naturally.
About Dr. B.J. Hardick
Dr. B.J. Hardick is a Doctor of Chiropractic and internationally-recognized natural health author and speaker. His health journey began as a child — alternative medicine is the only medicine he has ever known. In 2009, he authored his first book, Maximized Living Nutrition Plans. In 2018, he authored his second book, Align Your Health. An energizing and passionate speaker, Dr. Hardick shares his lifestyle methods to numerous professional and public audiences every year in the United States and Canada. His teachings encompass the principles of ancestral nutrition, detoxification, functional fitness, mindfulness, and green living. Learn More