12 Oils to Avoid (& which oils are best!)

How to Choose Healthy Oils

Forget everything you were taught about oils. There, I said it.

Why? When we were taught to avoid saturated fats and increase consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 6 fatty acids), we experienced widespread declining health, as omega 6 fats are inflammatory.

We use oils more often than we might realize, to cook, to add to recipes, and to pour on our food, so it’s pretty important that these staples are high quality and not harmful to our health!

Oils are certainly a tricky area to navigate. You go to the grocery store and you’re faced with hundreds of varieties of different types of oils. How do you know which are beneficial and which should be avoided? Here are 3 best oils for health and a few you should avoid!

Remember, when purchasing oils, think quality over quantity. 

12 Oils to Avoid:

The following oils are high in inflammatory omega 6 fats and are highly refined and heavily processed. Many of these are genetically modified and hydrogenated (two things you don’t want to be consuming!)

  1. Vegetable Oils
  2. Canola Oil
  3. Soybean Oil
  4. Sunflower Oil
  5. Safflower Oil
  6. Grapeseed Oil
  7. Cottonseed Oil
  8. Peanut Oil
  9. Corn Oil
  10. Spray Oils (think pam cooking spray)
  11. Margarine
  12. Fake butter alternatives like Smart Balance and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (opt for real butter instead)

Dr. Mark Hyman writes the following about the dangers of vegetable oils:

“Omega 6 fats not only fuel your body’s inflammatory pathways, but also reduce availability of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats in your tissues, resulting in more inflammation…

Introducing refined oils into our diet and moving away from grass-fed and wild animals increased our omega 6 fat intake. Corn, soy, cottonseed, and canola oils skyrocketed, while omega 3 fats have dramatically declined. In that surge, many Americans sadly became deficient in these essential omega 3 fats.

We can’t blame ourselves for this catastrophe. Most of us were taught to use these refined oils at a young age.  Unfortunately, this has resulted in the worst epidemic of chronic disease in history, with global explosions of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (or what I call diabesity), and cancer.

Bottom line: We’ve got to move away from these inflammatory fats.”

Related: How to Eat Healthfully on a Budget (& free grocery guide!)

Best Oils for Health:

Olive Oil

High in monounsaturated fats, olive oil is anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, which fight against free radical damage. Olive oil is also known to be a heart-healthy food, as it is high in antioxidants. Olive oil has digestive health benefits, as well as cognitive and bone health benefits. Caution, not all olive oils are created equal…

What to Look For:

  • Organic
  • Extra Virgin (or you’ll be buying heavily processed and refined olive oil that is void of the beneficial properties)
  • Cold-Pressed, which means that minimal heating was used when processing the oil. This helps to preserve the nutrient density of the oil.

How to Use It:
Avoid cooking with olive oil – It has a low heat threshold, which means that when heated it is susceptible to oxidative damage. It’s best to use olive oil for room temperature options like tossing on salads and homemade salad dressings.

Coconut Oil

Ah, coconut oil. The oil that has been all the craze lately, and for good reason. Here are just a few benefits of coconut oil.

From a nutritional standpoint, coconut oil contains about 50% lauric acid. This means it is effective against a variety of pathogens including bacteria and viruses. It also contains medium-chain fatty acids, making it great for being stored by the body as energy, rather than fat.

Fun fact: Coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on earth.

What to Look For:

To make sure your coconut oil is the highest quality, opt for:

  • Organic
  • Virgin
  • Cold-Pressed
  • Unrefined

How to Use It:
Coconut oil is one of the best oils to use for cooking as it has a high heat threshold. You can also use coconut oil for baking, adding to smoothies, or even as a 1-ingredient eye makeup remover (it works – and no more spending money on chemical-laden makeup remover pads!)

Related: 6 Must-Know Facts About Buying Organic

Avocado Oil

Avocado Oil, which is high in monounsaturated oleic acids (healthful fats), has been known to lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and increase absorption of nutrients (specifically antioxidants) in food.

What to Look for:

To make sure your avocado oil is the highest quality, opt for:

  • Organic
  • Extra-Virgin
  • Cold-Pressed
  • Unrefined

How to Use It:
It also can be used externally for skin and hair. Avocado oil is a great option for cooking because it can withstand high temperatures without losing any of its nutrients. This avocado oil is one of my favorites because of its taste!

What oils do you use? Any of the healthy oils you’ve been wanting to try? Share your thoughts below!

Sources and Further Reading:

Dr. Hyman: Why Vegetable Oils Should Not be part of Your Diet
Dr. Mercola: Soybean OilAre Vegetable Oils More Dangerous Than Common Fats?

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.

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  1. Glad to know we use all the good cooking oils! We also use organic expeller pressed sesame seed oil for our Asian dishes. I also enjoy infusing these oils with culinarily herbs for enhanced flavor!