Updated: Oct 28, 2020
When it comes to oils, there is a hierarchy that will be addressed in this article. We'll focus on the ones at the top which confer the greatest health benefits, lower inflammation and provide key nutrients to optimize our health. We are inundated today with so many types of oils, it can be challenging to know which ones to focus on. Lets bring some clarity to that topic today so we can veer away from the damaging oils and focus on the health-promoting ones.
The first oil I'll address is avocado oil. One key characteristic about this oil is it has a really high smoke point, above 500 degree Fahrenheit. This means that polyphenols and beneficial compounds within the oil are kept intact as opposed to oils that have smoke points at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Avocado oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which help promote brain, skin and joint health. It also has an antioxidant called lutein in it, which helps maintain ocular health. This is the number one oil I recommend cooking with because of its high smoke point.
The second beneficial oil is coconut oil. This oil has medium chain triglycerides, including: lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic aid. These triglycerides are powerful antimicrobials helping to eradicate excessive levels of yeast and candida and aiding in ridding the gut of pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil provide powerful antimicrobial benefits.
Next up is grapeseed oil. Although this has a high smoke point, it's best not to cook with it because the polyunsaturated fatty acids can react with oxygen-forming dangerous free radicals during the cooking process. In addition to the beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids, this oil is a great source of Vitamin E, which helps maintain heathy skin, prevents oxidation damage and bolsters immune system functionality.
Extra virgin olive oil makes a fantastic oil to incorporate into a regular diet. This oil contains health-promoting monounsaturated fats, an abundance of antioxidants and oleic acid, which lessens inflammation and enhances brain health with myelin sheath production. This oil boasts modest levels of Vitamin K and Vitamin E as well. This oil also makes a good cooking oil.
Walnut oil is a healthy option due to the fact that it is high in alpha linolenic acid (ALA). This omega 3 fatty acid has profound effects on lowering inflammation, protecting the heart from free radical damage and bolstering neurological function.
The last oil I'll recommend is sesame oil. This oil has a good mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and can help lower levels of LDLs in the body. This oil has a positive influence on the bone marrow and therefore positively influences output of blood cells to help against anemia and to ward off infections.
The highly processed vegetable oils like canola, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut, safflower and soybean oil should be eliminated. They contain high amounts of inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids that can very easily disrupt the healthy balance of omega 3:omega 6 fats in the body. Additionally, many of them are genetically modified and pose more challenges on the digestive mechanisms internally. For instance, most of the canola oil in the U.S. comes from rapeseeds that have been subject to genetic modification. These oils tend to be highly inflammatory to the body and they're one of the first dietary factors I'll address with patients. Some of the top inflammatory foods in addition to these refined vegetable oils are gluten, conventional dairy and refined sugar. Try to stick to the anti-inflammatory oils mentioned in this article to alleviate the inflammatory burden in the body and to expose the body to healthful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Dr. Seamus Allen
CFMP, DACBN, DC