Written by Ken Fawcett, RNC

Unfortunately, the fats and oils best suited for cooking are not those which provide us with the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that we require for health [See Omega 3 on our Nutrition page ]. EFAs are very unstable and will break down into very unhealthy compounds when exposed to light, oxygen, and heat. For example, flax oil provides us with both EFAs: linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linoleic (omega 3). Cooking with flax oil is NOT RECOMMENDED because these EFAs will break down very rapidly into various toxic compounds including “free radicals”, thus turning a good oil BAD! When choosing fats and oils for cooking, we should look for a lower content of EFAs (polyunsaturates), and a higher percentage of mono-unsaturated and saturated fats (most stable).

Another option for sautéing is to start with some water before adding oil, and use garlic and onions for their protective organic sulphur content to minimize “free radical” damage.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Deep frying – not recommended
  • Occasional pan frying – butter (clarified), coconut butter, Macadamia nut oil
  • Light sautéing – as above, also almond, hazelnut, olive, sesame
  • Baking (ingredients) – as above, also canola, safflower, sunflower (use butter or tropical fats, coconut butter, to grease pans)

Remember, any fat, oil or food that smokes, burns or is overly browned is toxic! Methods of commercial processing make these oils unhealthy, therefore, unrefined oils are recommended. Extra virgin olive oil is the only “commercially processed” oil that can still be categorized as unrefined.

Adapted from the Northern Vegetarian Society Newsletter, July 1996, Volume 2, Issue 3, page 7.

From the January 1997 issue of Lifelines