The Truth About Cooking Oils: Debunking Misconceptions

In this video, the speaker discusses the confusion and misinformation surrounding cooking oils. They challenge popular advice by explaining the basic principles of fats and oils. They debunk the misconception that polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthy and explain how they are essential for specific tissue functions but not meant to be burned for fuel. They also highlight the confusion between the source of food and its oil, as well as the overemphasis on smoke point without considering the oil’s processing. The speaker recommends using unprocessed oils like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and butter for cooking, while cautioning against frequent deep frying. They also mention the health benefits of saturated fat and highlight the importance of avoiding processed seed oils for essential fatty acids.

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Key Insights:

  • There is a lot of misinformation regarding cooking oil, making it difficult to know what information to trust.
  • The three main misconceptions about cooking oil are: the belief that polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthy, confusion regarding the source of the food and the oil, and the emphasis on smoke point without considering the oil’s processing.
  • The worst cooking oil options are flaxseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and safflower oil. These oils undergo extensive processing, leading to oxidation and the creation of reactive oxygen species.
  • Avocado oil can be a healthy option if it is unrefined and extracted at low temperatures. Refined avocado oil has a high smoke point but is already damaged during processing.
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and tallow are recommended as healthier cooking options due to their natural and unprocessed forms.
  • Deep frying is not recommended, as repeatedly heating cooking oil leads to the formation of reactive oxygen species.
  • Saturated fats, such as those found in butter and tallow, are not only stable when cooking with them but also have health benefits.
  • It is important to understand where and how your food is raised and processed to make informed choices about the oil you use.


Hello Health Champions. How is it that popular advice on cooking oil is not only different between different sources but often completely confident? There are few areas as riddled with misinformation as bad of cooking oil and what kind of fat to cook our food in. So today, I’m going to show you the only way that you can truly know what information to trust, and that is to start understanding just a few basic principles about fats and oils. Coming right up.

There are a holistic doctor and a former Olympic decathlete, and if you want to truly master health, by understanding how the body really works, make sure you subscribe, hit that bell, and turn on all the notifications so you never miss a life-saving video. If you ask a cooking channel what the best oils are, they’ll probably talk about oils to have a mild flavor and a high smoke point. And if you look at a health channel, they’ll start talking about polyunsaturated vs. saturated fats. So where do you find the truth?

One of the first places that I found was when I did a search for healthy cooking oil. This website showed up, and they said that flax oil was one of the best cooking oils because it had a lot of healthy fats in it. They also said that butter was kind of in the middle but towards the lower end of the list, and that coconut oil was one of the worst fats to cook in. So how did they come to these conclusions?

Well, in my mind, this isn’t just wrong, it is 100% completely backwards. And it’s because there are so many misconceptions and myths. Today, we’ll go over those so that you’ll have a clear understanding of what a healthy fat is. The number one misconception is that polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthy. Many people hold onto this belief for the longest time. The second misconception is that they confuse the source of the food. They think that if flax is healthy, then flax oil must be healthy. And if avocados are healthy, then avocado oil must be healthy. They don’t understand the source versus the processing. And the third thing is that there’s so much emphasis on smoke point without considering what the oil has gone through to have that kind of smoke point.

Let’s start with flaxseed oil. It is probably the worst cooking oil you can possibly choose. This surprises a lot of people because flaxseed oil is seen as a good quality oil with many health benefits. However, it is very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered healthy. But here’s what we need to understand: omega-3 fatty acids are essential, but they are not for fuel. They have specific tissue properties and play a role in cell membranes, hormones, and signal pathways. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, like omega-3s, have specific shapes that allow them to participate in these processes. Cooking oil, on the other hand, is supposed to be an energy source. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are not meant to be burned for fuel. They are extremely unstable and have a very low smoke point.

Flaxseed oil, in particular, has a smoke point of 170 degrees Celsius (225 degrees Fahrenheit), which is just barely above boiling water. So, even using it for low-heat cooking, like boiling food in a pressure cooker, can exceed its smoke point. This can turn potentially anti-inflammatory and beneficial flaxseed oil into a damaged and pro-inflammatory oil.

To understand this, let’s look at the chemical structure of fats and oils. Carbon atoms have four binding sites, and in fats or hydrocarbons, three of these sites are occupied by hydrogen atoms, with the fourth site having a different group. Fatty acids have carbon chains with varying lengths and double bonds. Saturated fats have all carbon sites occupied by hydrogen atoms, making the chain straight and tightly packed. Unsaturated fats have double bonds, causing the chain to bend. The more double bonds, the more the chain bends. Monounsaturated fats have one double bond, while polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds.

Saturated fats, like those found in butter or animal fats, are stable and have a higher melting point. On the other hand, polyunsaturated fats are very unstable and have a low smoke point. Flaxseed oil, for example, has a low smoke point due to the high percentage of polyunsaturated fats. Its instability leads to quick oxidation and rancidity, making it a poor choice for cooking.

Flaxseed oil is not the only problematic oil. Other oils like soybean, canola, and safflower fall into the worst cooking oil category as well. These oils, commonly found in grocery stores, undergo solvent extraction using chemicals like hexane to extract as much oil as possible from the seeds. They are then subjected to heat, steam, pressure, and further processing to refine, deodorize, bleach, and neutralize them. These processes damage the oils, making them oxidize and promote inflammation when consumed. Additionally, these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which in excess, can lead to pro-inflammatory pathways and chronic low-grade inflammation.

So, what oils should you choose for cooking? Olive oil, coconut oil, and butter are natural fats that undergo minimal processing and have relatively low smoke points. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, making it a healthy choice for low to medium heat cooking. Coconut oil, despite being highly saturated, has a lower smoke point due to the presence of shorter chain fatty acids. Butter, while having a high smoke point due to protein residues, should be used with caution and at lower temperatures to prevent damage to its fatty acid composition.

It’s important to note that the saturated fat debate has evolved, and more recent research has shown that saturated fat intake is not linked to heart disease, diabetes, or obesity. In fact, higher saturated fat intake has been associated with a lower risk of these conditions and all-cause mortality. However, deep frying should be limited as it can compromise the nutritional quality of the food and promote the formation of harmful substances when oil is repeatedly heated.

In conclusion, understanding the basics of fats and oils is crucial in determining which oils are suitable for cooking. Choose unprocessed oils like olive oil, coconut oil, or butter for low to medium heat cooking, and avoid highly processed seed oils with high omega-6 content. Consider the source and processing of oils to ensure their health effects. And remember, fats are not only important for cooking; they also play a role in our overall health.