Cooking With Oil: The Good And The Bad

Cooking With Oil: The Good And The Bad





Highly stable

Relatively stable

Relatively unstable

Do not go rancid easily

Do not go rancid easily

Go rancid easily

Solid or semi-solid at room temperature

Liquid at room temperature

Always liquid

Non-essential because the body can make these on its own

Non-essential because the body can make these on its own

Two are essential

·       Linoleic Acid

·       Alpha-linolenic Acid

Found in animal fats and tropical oils – coconut oil, palm oil, grass-fed meat and dairy

Found in olive oil, avocados, and various nuts

Found in wild caught fish, flax, nuts, and seeds

Safe at higher heat

Safe at low heat

Never heat or use in cooking




(Frying, baking, broiling, grilling and roasting)


(Quick stir-frying, light sautéing, and slow/low simmering)



Organic virgin coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, animal fats- lard, beef and lamb tallow, organic virgin red palm oil.

Olive oil, avocado oil.

Fish oil, flax oil, hemp oil, pumpkin oil, macadamia nut oil, sesame seed, and peanut oils.

Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, grape seed oil, safflower oil, rice bran oil.


***Make sure to buy oil that is stored in dark glass bottles. Light and oxygen putrefies oils, making them damaged fats that are not fit to consume.  Living fats and oils are extremely sensitive to light, heat, and oxygen and therefore become rancid easily. The more unsaturated the fat, the more unstable it is.


 Coconut oil:  Coconut oil should be organic and unrefined in nature. Coconut oil is almost fully saturated, making it the best option for cooking and frying at higher temperatures. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs, which don’t require pancreatic enzymes to be digested, making them available in our body for immediate energy use.

 Ghee (Indian Clarified Butter): Ghee is a stable, saturated butterfat with the milk solids (casein proteins) removed, which is why many people who are intolerant to dairy and/or butter can often tolerate ghee. It is safe for cooking and light frying. Ghee should be made from organic, grass-fed butter.

 Animal fats: Animal fats in this category should be from organically raised, grass-fed pastured animals. Cooking with these fats give us access to nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

 Red palm oil: Red palm oil should be organic and unrefined in nature. Its paprika-like flavor makes it a great option for roasting vegetables with.


 Olive oil: Olive oil should always be extracted via expeller pressing. It contains 75 percent monounsaturated fatty acids, making it relatively stable for cooking. Lightly cooking with olive oil over a medium heat (less than 400 degrees) is safe.

 Avocado oil: Avocado oil is extracted from the fatty pulp, which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, making it similar to olive oil and its rules for cooking.


 The polyunsaturated fatty acids in this category should never be used for cooking. If at all, these oils should be consumed in moderation and should never be refined or processed. Use these oils sparingly in salad dressings, added in small amounts to condiments or smoothies, or consumed in limited quantities from a spoon as a dietary supplement. These oils are highly unstable and highly reactive, and cannot be heated or exposed to light.


 Because of their genetically modified status and heavy pesticide levels, corn and soybean oil should be avoided. These oils are highly processed they have many chances to be exposed to heat and light often, they become damaged fats, which are not fit for us to consume.

 Canola oil: Canola oil is extracted from the genetically modified crop, rapeseed, and is highly processed. Before reaching its final product, canola oil must move through damaging extraction processes to be harvested and deodorized. This oil does not even belong in the human body, yet it is the current oil of choice for prepared foods at Whole Foods Market.

 Video of how canola is made here

Did you know cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and in the United States? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends canola and soybean oils as heart healthy oils in the place of “bad fats” like coconut oil. It is also recommended to replace butter with reduced fat, whipped, or liquid spread butters, which are almost always made with soybeans and canola oil, and oftentimes have trans fats, called partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats are manmade fats, do not occur anywhere in nature, and are heavily linked to cardiovascular disease. Trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and highly processed vegetable oils are toxic to consume and interfere with the critical role healthy fatty acids play within the body. While saturated fat is very stable, polyunsaturated fats are unstable and oxidize when exposed to heat, light, and air. These fats go rancid and produce free radicals in the body, putting us in a pro-inflammatory state. Inflammation is the driver of all disease, especially cardiovascular. For these reasons, polyunsaturated fats should never be used for cooking due to their reactivity and instability

Stability and reactivity are important when considering good and bad cooking oils. When we hear good fat versus bad fat, the average American consumer, including plenty of trained experts and educators, think that bad fat means saturated fat. Despite what this popular misconception states, saturated fats are the best for cooking, as they are highly stable and hold up well to heat. Coconut oil, palm oil, ghee, and reserved animal fats are all excellent and stable options for cooking at high temperatures. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado oil are relatively stable and require very little processing, making them also safe to use in cooking, but at lower temperatures. The difference between good fat and bad fat is determined by the way they are processed, not in the inherent nature of their source, with the exception of canola, soy, and cottonseed oils, which should be avoided completely.

So why does the AHA publish this misinformation? There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. First is where they get their money, and second, where they get their information data from. The AHA is a nonprofit, so they need to make money on their research. These things come from the USDA, whose two key missions’ completely contradict one another. The first is to serve the health of the public, and the second is to maximize the economic growth and profit for the agricultural sector for the U.S. economy. The words “profit” and “growth” should not be listed next to the concern for the general health of the public. The support and research is in favor of big foods, instead of smaller companies who are doing the right thing. Because of these money driven guidelines, factory created fats and oils have become superior to the healthy fats we have been using forever.

By Jena Covello and Alexa Ouaknine