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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 20 2010

The Definitive Guide to Oils

By Mark Sisson
263 Comments

healthy oilsBefore you can hope to make it as a speculator and start slingin’ barrels for big money, you’ve got to understand exactly what’s gushing forth from the earth’s crust. Yes, that’s right – it doesn’t start and stop just with crude, and there’s far more to oil than dinosaur bones. In fact, most experts agree that the bulk of crude oil is derived from prehistoric single-celled plankton remains. Then you’ve got the abiogenic theory, which posits that…

Er, wrong oils. Sorry.

Today’s post is actually about edible oils. Well, they’re all technically edible – they can all be swallowed and digested – but as for being palatable, let alone healthful? That remains to be seen. Not all oils are created equal, especially given the fact that most of the ones people use nowadays are actually created in an industrial laboratory. No oil “exists naturally,” mind you. Olive oil isn’t harvested by leaving open containers under leaking, dripping olives on the branch, nor is that liquid sloshing around inside a coconut pure oil. I’m not trying to disparage processing in and of itself. It takes a certain amount of processing to get any sort of oil, but a good general rule is to avoid consuming the oils that require processing on a large scale. If it involves an industrial plant, multiple stainless steel vats, a deodorizer, a de-gummer, and the harsh petroleum-derived solvent known as hexane, I wouldn’t eat it. But that’s just me (and Grok, who probably wasn’t processing wild rapeseed to get the precious canola oil).

But this is the Definitive Guide to Oils. Everything goes. No stone left unturned. No oil left un-tasted and bereft of analysis for fatty acid profile, oxidative potential, and rancidity proclivity.

Canola

Canola oil comes from rapeseed, a completely unpalatable seed rich in erucic acid, which is bitter and rather toxic. Canola oil is rapeseed oil stripped of erucic acid, as I detailed in this previous post. It gets a lot of attention from doctors as a “heart healthy” oil (one of the “good” fats) rich in omega-3s, but the fact that canola processing generally uses upwards of 500 degrees means a good portion of the Omega-3s could be rancid on the shelf.

61% MUFA
21% Omega-6 PUFA
9-11% Omega-3 PUFA
7% SFA

Flax Seed

I mentioned the seed and its oil a few times, and, after being initially supportive of flax consumption, I now recommend minimizing intake. People generally use flax oil as an Omega-3 supplement, rather than for cooking – and this is a good choice, seeing as how flax is almost entirely made of PUFAs, which are prone to rancidity and oxidation when exposed to heat. Meat eaters, though, would be better off just taking fish oil. The DHA and EPA in fish oil are far more useful than the ALA in flax seed oil. Strict vegetarians, have at it – just don’t use flax seed oil to sautee your tofu.

19% MUFA
24% Omega-6 PUFA
47% Omega-3 PUFA (from ALA)
8-9% SFA

Corn

Corn oil boggles my mind. I can’t wrap my head around how extracting gallons upon gallons of liquid oil from a lowly corncob is actually possible. How isn’t it too much work for the payoff? I mean, I’m no corn eater, but I’ve chomped a few kernels in my day, and I don’t understand how squeezing oil out of this non-vegetable sounds like a good idea to anyone.

24% MUFA
59% PUFA (mostly O-6)
13% SFA

Olive (and variations)

Olive oil got a pretty good breakdown last year, so unless I’m leaving out some recent momentous news breaking out of the highly secretive olive oil world, there’s not much more to say. It’s a delicious salad oil, a decent sautéing oil, and it can even be used as moisturizer and shaving lotion. Olive oil is one area where CW gets it right. Enjoy this one, and keep a bottle of extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil on hand for salad dressings. It also does a decent job standing up to heat, but will lose it’s delicate flavors if heated too high. This is a good enough reason for me to use a different fat/oil when cooking at high temps. (Why waste precious (and often expensive!) olive oil when lard, for instance, will do the trick?)

73% MUFA
3.5-21% Omega-6 PUFA
1% Omega-3 PUFA (not even worth mentioning, really)
14% SFA

Coconut

MDA’s darling, coconut oil is truly a star. I went over why yesterday, and in past posts, but the gist of it is this: it’s a tasty, shelf-stable (no hydrogenation required) tropical oil with a ton of saturated fatty acids. In fact, it’s almost purely saturated, which is why most doctors and nutritionists will probably advise against its consumption. Not us, though. We love SFA. The refined coconut oil stands up to heat a bit better, and it doesn’t have a distinctive taste, but I can’t recommend it. Unrefined virgin oil is a murky, cloudy mess – but a delicious, creamy mess. Eat the unrefined by the spoonful.

6.2% MUFA
1.6% PUFA
92.1% SFA

Palm

Palm oil is controversial; just check out the comments section on my last post on the subject. Many palm oil plantations encroach upon the rapidly dwindling natural habitats of the orangutan, which are already in short supply in this world. The consensus seems to be that sustainable palm oil, especially the more complex, nutritious unrefined red palm oil, can be found. You’ve just got to look a little harder at the labels. West African red palm oil, for example, is considered to be pretty safe environmentally. Oh, and palm oil is also highly saturated and heat stable. Red palm oil is also stable, but it deserves special mention for its nutrient density – lots of CoQ10, Vitamin E, and SFAs.

39% MUFA
11% PUFA
50% SFA

Fish

Fish oil is another one of the widely accepted “good” fats. This time, though, we agree with Conventional Wisdom. The Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are unequivocally beneficial to us. They help balance our O6-O3 ratios (to a more appropriate, pre-agricultural level), while they also promote proper cell function, good lipid numbers, and improved insulin sensitivity. To bone up on more fish oil information, check out my Definitive Guide on the subject.

EPA and DHA levels vary by brand and type of fish. Check the label for yourself, or look at this handy table if you’re getting your fish oil from actual seafood.

Avocado

Who doesn’t love a plump avocado with the right amount of give? If you can’t get your hands on a good one, the next best thing might be a bottle of avocado oil. Its fatty acid profile is similar to that of olive oil, but it has an even higher smoke point, making it a decent choice for cooking. Personally, I still wouldn’t use it for high heat cooking. The light, subtle taste lends itself far better to salad dressing, if you ask me. Buy in dark bottles to minimize oxidation.

70% MUFA
12% Omega-6 PUFA
1% Omega-3 PUFA
12% SFA

Walnut

Walnut oil is one of the better tasting nut oils. It is high in Omega-6s, sure, but walnut oil isn’t something you’re going to use every day, or even every week. The stuff tastes great, though, and a small splash goes a long way at the end of a cooking session or onto a tossed salad. I definitely would advise against using this on a regular basis, especially for cooking, and you should always store it in a dark, cool spot in the house. For those that “do dairy”, try mixing a bit with some full-fat Greek yogurt, or unsweetened fresh whipped cream and berries: amazing.

23% MUFA
53% Omega-6 PUFA
10% Omega-3 PUFA
9% SFA

Macadamia Nut

I love this oil, but I also love the parent nut. The oil assumes the buttery, smooth, rich flavor of the macadamia nut, making it an interesting – but favorable – choice for salad dressings. It’s also remarkably high in MUFAs and low in PUFAs, so it won’t throw your ratios all out of whack. Makes a surprisingly good homemade mayonnaise, and can be used to sauté and cook in a pinch. The only drawback is its price; macadamia nut oil can get expensive.

71% MUFA
10% PUFA
12% SFA

Sesame Seed

The premier “flavor oil.” Sesame seed oil, especially the toasted variety, offers an unmatched and irreplaceable flavor profile. Certain Asian dishes work best with a bit of sesame oil, but if you’re wary of using it over high heat (which you probably should be), you can always add it to the dish after cooking. Despite the high PUFA content, sesame oil also contains a ton of antioxidants that can help minimize heat oxidation. I wouldn’t use this more than semi-regularly, though. Good to keep in your pantry (or fridge), but not an everyday item.

43% MUFA
43% PUFA
14% SFA

Peanut

Restaurants like to tout that they use “healthy” peanut oil in their deep fryers. Okay, the relatively MUFA-rich peanut oil may be a better choice than corn or sunflower oil for high heating, but it’s still a legume (already off limits) oil prone to rancidity. In the UK, it’s known as groundnut oil. Avoid both.

46% MUFA
32% PUFA
17% SFA

Sunflower Seed

Insanely high in PUFAs with little to no Omega-3s to balance them out, sunflower seed oil is a pretty bad choice for sauteeing, baking, roasting, and even salad making. Trouble is it’s everywhere, and it has a reputation for being healthy. Just don’t keep the stuff in your house (not a problem; it’s flavorless, odorless, and completely boring), and keep dining out in cheap chain restaurants to a minimum (or you could do what I do and request everything be cooked in butter), and you should be able to avoid sunflower seed oil.

19% MUFA
63% PUFA
10% SFA

Safflower

Like sunflower seed oil but worse, the oil derived from the “bastard saffron” is about 75% Omega-6 PUFAs with not a speck of Omega-3 in sight. It’s also lower in MUFAs and SFAs. What’s not to dislike?

14% MUFA
75% PUFA
6% SFA

Cottonseed

At least most of the oils I’ve mentioned come from technically edible plants, in some form or another. Cottonseed oil, however, comes from cotton. You know, the stuff that shirts are made of? Yeah. It’s everywhere, from margarines to cereal to shortening to frozen desserts to bread, because it’s cheaper than other oils (you can thank its status as one of Monsanto’s big four genetically modified crops for that) and it only needs “partial hydrogenation” to maintain stability. Luckily, that won’t be an issue for PBers who already avoid all that stuff in the first place. Warn your friends and family, though.

17% MUFA
52% PUFA
26% SFA

Grape Seed

Skip this stuff. It does have a buttery taste, and it gets a lot of hype as a worthy replacement for olive oil, but it’s got high oxidation potential, especially if you follow the recommended instructions and use it for deep frying or high heat sauteeing. It’s rather pricey, too, so there’s no good reason to use it.

16% MUFA
70% PUFA
9% SFA

Soybean Oil

Soybean oil is about as ubiquitous as corn and canola (again, thanks to Monsanto). In fact, you’ll often see an ingredient list include “canola and/or soybean oil.” Huh? Do food manufacturers honestly not know what kind of fat is going into their product? Best avoid the crapshoot and skip anything that “might contain” soybean oil altogether. The fact that it’s often partially hydrogenated suppresses my appetite even further. No thanks.

23% MUFA
51% Omega-6 PUFA
6% Omega-3 PUFA
14% SFA

As you can tell, seed and nut oils probably shouldn’t make up a significant portion of your diet. Some, like coconut, olive, macadamia, palm, avocado, and fish, are great, but the vast majority of oils are unnatural and way too high in PUFAs. And just remember, with some of the more questionable/borderline oils, a little bit goes a long way.

I haven’t covered every edible oil known to humankind in this article. For information on other oils reference these tables and start up a discussion in the comment board or the forum.

What are your preferred edible oils and why? Let me know your thoughts. Grok on!

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263 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Oils”

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  1. About the only oils I use with regularity are coconut oil (for cooking) and olive oil (for salads). We did make the mistake of buying a bottle of sunflower oil, on the basis that “if sunflower seeds are okay, the oil must be too”. Must remember to throw that out at some point – is there a safe way to dispose of oil, instead of just throwing it down the drain?

    1. Nah, don’t throw it out – put it with your tools. Next time you have a squeaky hinge or a stuck nut break out the sunflower oil and have at it. That’s how I’m getting rid of my old canola oil and the “light” olive oil I received as a gift.

      1. In a similar light, I’ve also found that canola oil works great for cleaning paint brushes (for all you artists out there.)

        1. Darrin, I am a portrait painter, are you using this to condition your brushes before and after use or literally for cleaning? What medium?

        2. the great oil debate… Ha I associate (don’t eat with them)with ppl who think becel is healthy. Canola is in everything!!! have to make from scratch until it gets worked out, like sacrine, if I had any of that s**t i whould clean my brushes with it,I use mineral oil ;o)

        3. I also do oil painting but I’m nervous about using any kind of oil long term on the brush that might oxidize and harden over time like linseed. Usually I just use mineral oil to maintain the condition of the hair while the brushes are just sitting around.

      2. Wait, what’s wrong with “light” olive oil? Light refers to color for olive oil, is there some heated processing to change its color or is it (my assumption) a natural variation thing?

        1. I think “light” olive oil is refined. I know it’s not extra virgin (or it would be labeled as such), and it doesn’t have any flavor.

          In my opinion, applying “light” was just a way to make the lower quality oil sound more healthful and appealing.

        2. Basically, “light” means heavily-refined olive oil, removing much of its flavour and possibly damaging the good stuff within. Sometimes it’s olive oil that’s been adulterated with other, lesser oils such as canola.

      3. hey, so what’s wrong with the light olive oil. i like it for cooking when I don’t want an olive oil flavor. is something in the processing making it out of favor for you?

        1. Melissa, from The Clothes Make the Girl and Author of Well Fed, says she uses light Olive Oil to make her homemade mayo so it doesn’t get bogged down with a heavy olive taste.

        2. When I was in Greece for 3 weeks, the topic of the “light” olive oil came up. In the same way that Extra Virgin is the first press, “light” olive oil is the very last. The Greeks see it as a byproduct of cleaning the olive press and are really surprised/appalled that they’re selling it in the US as edible! They say it’s often adulterated with chemicals used to clean the machine. They don’t sell or consume it there. That was enough reason for me not to use it! 🙂

      4. Canola oil can be used in a pinch as hydraulic fluid. It works, and it doesn’t harm the leaky seals in an old tractor.

    2. If you [ or your friends] have a diesel car you could use it as fuel.

      I made the same mistake – came across some organic cheap sunflower oil and stocked up – I’ll pass it on to friend
      and he can pour it in his fuel tank.

    3. What do you know about Rice Bran Oil?
      I love the way it cooks and how I can bake with it. And due to it high smoke point I can even deep or stir fry with it. It also is very high in antioxidents.

    4. Cotton is one of the most pesticide laden crops. Since cotton is not used for human consumption they feel they can use some pretty harsh chemicals on it. Another reason to avoid cottonseed oil altogether.

      1. It is true that most cotton grown in the US is genetically modified and treated with some amount of pesticides. However, pesticide use is minimal (those who believe it is a heavily pesticide laden crop are living in the 1970s when pesticides were used to eradicate the boll weevil) and in fact fewer pesticides are used to grow cotton than to grow corn or soybeans in the US. Cotton has also been grown and regulated as a food crop in the US for more than 100 years.
        I don’t work for the cottons industry, but my company does sell wonderful flavor-infused cottonseed oils that are CERTIFIED pesticide-free, are gluten-free, Kosher, Vegan and contain zero cholesterol and zero trans fat. Wake up and learn a little about cotton in the 21st century. It might just surprise you. Visit http://www.acala-farms.com to learn more.

    5. I actually use old bottles of corn oil in my chain saw for bar oil. During cold weather it flows a lot better than regular bar oil.

    6. Use it to season cast iron, can use it on tools as was mentioned. You can add a little bit to your newspaper when using a chimney starter to get charcoal going… this will speed things up.

      You can use a little on your whet stone when sharpening your knives….

      I’m sure I could think of other things

    7. Never throw out oil, no matter what. Oil has so many uses. You can make bio fuels out of it. Use it as a lubricant. All oils are concentrated forms of energy. If youre a survivalist, try taking the oil and putting it into jars full of cotton balls to use as emergency fire starters. If youre throwing away oil, youre throwing away energy.

  2. Nice post.

    One oil I have used extensively in the past but have never found a mention of on MDA is Carotino oil….. thoughts?

      1. I can’t seem to find coconut oil anywhere around here, so I’ve been cooking with butter, but I keep reading bacon grease/fat. How long is this stuff good when kept in the back of the fridge?

        1. Not sure about how long bacon fat keeps, though I know people use/used duck fat to preserve cooked duck for quite a while. But you should be able to find coconut oil on the shelf at any health food or grocery store. I have even seen it on the shelf at walmart, in the baking section. It isnt an actual “oil” that is clear and in a bottle. It will most likely be in a jar of some sort.

  3. Until I started using coconut oil last year, I used corn oil in just about all my cooking, thinking I was making a good choice! I figure that has to be the biggest dietary change for the better since coming to this forum. (Tied with giving up wheat.)

    1. I use corn oil when I make corn muffins because corn oil tastes heavily of corn. I make them about once a year.

  4. What about almond oil? I haven’t tried it yet, but was curious if anyone here uses it, or has thoughts on whether its healthy or not.

    1. I use it almost everyday in my smoothees, or when I’m craving a bit of fatty goodness! Hmmm….

    2. I mix it with olive oil, balsamic, cumin and oregano for salad dressing…

  5. Thanks for this, Mark. Very helpful! My mother and I were debating the use of Palm Oil just the other day. We use a host of these good oils in our home – with the exception of Walnut oil. Going to have to try that!

  6. What, no entry for “cooking oil?” That mystery meat of oils that costs a buck a gallon? …Actually, I don’t wanna know what goes into that. I figure it’s probably the dregs of the vats they make corn, soybean, and canola oil in all mixed together. Ew…

    Anyways, extra virgin olive oil is my go-to guy whenever I want an oil but don’t want to cook it. (I use butter or coconut oil for that. Don’t wanna risk the EVOO going rancid.) I also take fish oil supplements. Haven’t had sesame oil in a while, but that stuff is mighty tasty as well.

    1. If you mean “vegetable oil” that’s usually soybean, sometimes corn.

  7. Hello Mark. Great list! I have a queston: is it okay to take olive oil “shots”? I have about 5 tablespoons a day, sometimes in shot form, to up my fat intake.

    1. Over here it’s probably something close to blasphemy, but I know that over in Italy some women take a spoonful of olive oil several times a day to help their complexion, if that helps?

    2. I wouldn’t recommend it. If you have decided that it’s necessary to consume that much oil for some reason, use spoonfuls of coconut oil instead.

    3. I would highly suggest to use Virgin Coconut oil (unrefined) like Tropical Traditions green or gold label for oral consumption. Many other brands out there as well. Great for complexion and anti-viral properties. Not only that Coconut oil is a medium chained fat as such is not processed by the liver, as such no bile is needed to break it down. Coconut oil is by far superior to Olive oil in for this purpose. In fact a topical mixture of honey, coconut oil and cinnamon is great for clearing up acne. depending on your skin type you may have to experiment with these combination’s and or eliminate one.

      1. I’m thinking a mixture of coconut oil, honey and cinnamon would also be a delicious way to ingest it! Yum!

  8. Olive oil is my basic “go to” oil in the kitchen, but for anything more than medium heat it’s coconut oil or animal fat.

    I also have a daily shot of cod liver oil.

  9. I have to back up the merits of Fish Oil. As I have stated before, I’m prone to sinus infections (at least 4/year) and end up taking antibiotics each time only for it to take up to 3 weeks to dissipate.
    Once I started taking Fish Oil about 2 weeks ago, I safely averted an impending infection and I hope to say that record holds true. Please say it’s so! Omega 3’s – I Love You!

    1. For best quality and high concentration fish oil liquid, use Nordic Naturals. Since fish oil is prone to oxidation, you need to make sure you consume adequate anti-oxidants and Vitamin-E.
      This shouldn’t be a problem if you eat primal.

      1. Nordic looks good. I can speak for Mark’s fish oils as well. His Vital Omegas have been doing me right for years now.

        1. Also keep in mind that it’s nice to rotate the fish oil sources. There is some adaptation that develops from obtaining Omega-3s from the same source day in day out.

      2. Green Pastures makes a wonderful fermented cod liver oil and also CLO blended with high vitamin butter oil. IMO it is even better than NN. They are VERY committed to having the purest, best oil around. Wonderfully ethical company.

        1. Did you say fermented cod liver oil? Are you kidding? They’re actually selling rancid oils?

        2. Fermented =/= oxidized. In fact, it’s the opposite.
          Fermentation, like yogurt and pickles, is an anaerobic process (i.e. no oxygen). Going rancid requires oxygen. Plus, it helps protect the oil from going rancid.

        3. From Wikipedia: Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions.

          I think that the concept of “fermented” oil is impossible since, by definition,(see above) fermentation requires carbohydrates and oil is not carbohydrate.

          However, there may be some non-scientific use of the word “fermented” that makes some kind of sense in some context that is not obvious to us.

          cheers.

        4. Yogurt and pickles can be fermented because they are carbohydrates. That would not be possible if they were oils.

        5. Try Green Pastures 75% Coconut Oil and 25% Ghee from grass-fed cows mixture for cooking. It is so tasty. You are right about them being a wonderfully ethical company…I work right next door to their calling and administration center (owners work there). Amazed at the stories that employees tell about how they source their products and how careful they are that they are producing the best possible products.

    2. Flushing your nasal passages with warm saline solution (with a pinch of baking soda as well) with a neti pot will go a long way to preventing and relieving sinus infections and other upper-respiratory problems. Neti pots, which look like little Aladdin’s lamps, are typically found at a health food store or yoga studio. The salty water both kills germs, flushes out allergens, and soothes nasal passages.

      1. Neti pots are wonderful. Interestingly, Ayurvedic medicine recommends oiling your nostrals after flushing to keep them moist. And I use coconut oil as a face moisturizer since I went all natural-thanks to Gill Deacon’s book There’s Lead in Your Lipstick.

        I also use Nordic Naturals strawberry DHA. Love that it doesn’t repeat & I notice a huge difference if I don’t take it (migraines & moodiness). 😉 Thanks to Kishore for the rotating your fish oil advice. I’ll have to try that.

        Thanks so much for a fabulous round up of oily goodness. :O)

        1. Yes, definitely use sterile water in neti pots. Some, albeit very few, people are using tap water and getting deadly infections.

    3. You’re using a saline rinse for your sinuses like I do, right?

      I used to snort water in the shower, but straight tap water has too low of gravity and is actually damaging to already injured sinus passages.

  10. Imagine how different life would be in the US if we put all the canola, corn, soybean, and other bad-guys in our cars instead of our bodies.

    1. I’d rather we used all that land to grow healthy foods. The energy profile to use cropland to grow fuel to replace petroleum products is dreadful – it takes more energy to produce than you get out of it.

      1. Total truth Darcy. They will use far more petroleum planting, harvesting, processing and transporting the ‘green’ fuel than they will ever recover in energy. Not to mention all the toxic pesticides they are allowed to use because it’s not a crop grown for human consumption.

        States that grow corn sure love the pork barrel subsidy from government taxation of our wages.

        1. From a technical standpoint, using crops as fuel is about a 60% energy gain. It isn’t a loss, thermodynamically speaking, but it is horrible. When you take into account externalities such as pesticide exposure, loss of biodiversity, and soil erosion… When you take that into account is when it becomes an obvious loss. Although, I do know of people who grow oil crops in ways that are high management, high yield, low environmental impact. But then you’re talking about max size of mechanized equipment being a 10 hp walk behind tractor, and the highest input fertilizer being manure. There’s ways of doing it, just not within industrial ag.

      1. I’ve had epilepsy since I was 15 and a ketogenic diet is supposed to help. I recall asking my doc about it many years ago, but it was never presented as an option. I was told (ready for this?) that I would gain a tremendous amount of weight and be at very high risk for a heart attack! Besides that, once I stabilized on a med (depakote) I did well, and I’ve been seizure free for over 20years.
        All that being said, I’m considering taper off the med. I think a primal diet full of good fats will facilitate this. I’m still unsure though. One seizure at the wrong time can pretty much ruin your life, and I’ve never had any side effects from the med. I could be the Depakote poster boy, since I’ve been on it since it’s been legal in the US.

        1. More on this:

          “An obvious question the Irvines had was whether the cholesterol would create a new problem for Max’s health”.

          “We monitor the children very carefully,” Wirrell said. “We monitor their blood for cholesterol problems. And in truth very few children actually end up with cholesterol or lipid problems on the diet.”

          I like that! We feed the kids large amounts of fat and they still end up with no arterycloggingsaturatedfat issues!

        2. Is it the sort of med that needs to be taken consistently for it to work? Or is it a sort of when it’s on it’s on? If it is the former, then if you aren’t experiencing any side effects (and the med doesn’t exert an overly large load on thee liver or kidneys or anything), why tinker with it? There’s no point in risking harm to yourself if it’s working.

          Also, not *everything* is cured by good living. Sometimes things wouldn’t have any evolutionary pressure to weed out the traits in a preagrarian society, sometimes genetic factors are set, a lot of the time there are congenital factors that are set early on, and there simply isn’t a whole lot we can do about it. A few examples:

          Bad teeth. Yes, you can avoid cavities by not eating sugar. Yes, toothpaste is probably silly and unnecessary. On the other hand, there are other tooth problems that past 5 or 6, or even earlier, you can’t do anything about. Most people in the US have had to have their wisdom teeth out. I have these holes in my teeth (not canaries) where when I was young, I got sick for a couple of weeks, when the enamel was developing there, and it turned out soft. So, the enamel there wears through faster, and I have holes in my teeth. Does that mean I shouldn’t get them filled? Sure I might not get spreading decay or anything, but it still makes my teeth susceptible to damage.

          I have ADHD. It appears at about a 3-6% prevalence in practically every population it’s studied in. There’s nothing linking it to diet. I have noticed it gets worse if I don’t take care of myself, but taking care of myself doesn’t fix it. In a preagrarian setting, there probably wouldn’t be a whole lot of pressure forcing it out of the gene pool. Hunting is exciting and stimulating, and any ADD Grok would probably not have many problems with things like that. ADD Grok sleeping in until noon wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it only takes 20 or so hours a week to provide for basic needs. It might even be a positive thing to have someone who tends to sleep on a different schedule from the rest of the tribe, so there’s someone awake late at night. Sure it might be difficult to get him up if everyone has to move early, and sure he might be kind of impulsively annoying, but it’s likely harmless in that setting. In a modern society (or even an agrarian one) it’s a big problem. So, I take stimulant medication for it. There’s no point in not taking it. I feel better, I function better, I get minimal side effects (a bit of dry mouth if I’m starting after a hiatus, but that’s it), and the safety profile for the meds are fantastic.

          My point being, not that there’s any right or wrong answer, but that while primal living fixes a lot of things, it doesn’t fix everything. If your life is better as a result of this med, and there’s no problem, why tinker with it? There’s worse things than taking a pill every day.

  11. In India, almond oil can be bought freshly cold pressed from vendors which is called ‘sweet almond oil’ as the taste is much sweeter than conventional almond oil. It’s used as a health food and is swallowed directly or stirred in hot milk and given to children before exams! It’s meant to make them more intelligent. It’s also considered a remedy for weak eyesight.

    I’ve also heard of it curing and healing scars from burns and I suggested it to a friend involved in an accident who had thin black line marks on her face from surgery and they cleared up.

    Traditionally in North India everyone used to cook in ghee and you still have restaurants that advertise that all their fried food is fried in ghee for the general population this was replaced by ‘vanaspati’ which is a disgusting hydrogenated oil that is very cheap and used everywhere now there is an explosion of heart and diabetic problems in the country. I have personally noticed in Delhi that women who consume bad oils tend have very dull rough skin.

    1. Traditionally the most common oil in the north except Punjab and beyond for cooking purposes is the Mustard Oil.

      This oil is pretty pungent and people wouldn’t find the taste of food good without it ;-).

      It is also used in a lot of religious festivals, and marriage ceremonies, as a required item.

      It has n3:n6 ratio of 1:1.4, very near ideal but contains around 23% total. If we are only looking at n3 and n6 its not a bad oil. Whether the erucic acid is bad is controversial.

      Considering it has been part of Indian diet for a long time, it must have some benefits. Still it would not be better than the favoured oils.

  12. One note about flaxseed oil – the flax crops (at least here in Canada, where I live) are currently “at risk” due to invasion by a genetically-modified variant known as “Triffid” that was supposed to be destroyed 10 years ago. Only about 0.01% of the flax is so affected, but that’s enough to keep Canadian flax banned in the EU.

  13. Mark (or anyone else), do you have any thoughts on high heat sunflower and safflower oils such as those offered by Spectrum? They have a much higher MUFA content than the typical stuff that you listed in the article.

    79% MUFA
    14% PUFA
    7% SFA

    http://spectrumorganics.com/?id=6#j54

  14. What’s the take around here on rice bran oil? Decent 3/6, high smoke point? It’s often what I use for high temp cooking, when coconut or lard isn’t quite right.

  15. Great info, I had no idea that sunflower oil was a poor choice. On that vein, what about eating sunflower seeds, are they OK?
    I use butter, coconut oil, several types of EVOO, and I recently received some pecan oil. Does anyone know about pecan oil?

  16. A great lesson in Oil-ology. I made the switch to EVOO and Butter a long time ago and got rid of all forms of other oil. The one I have added since living the PB lifestyle is Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

  17. Excellent overview of oils.

    The toughest part for my wife and I is knowing which “good” oil to use in place of the “bad” oil in whatever recipe we are making.

    Thanks, Mark!

    1. I use this rule: replace with regular olive oil if its going in the oven, replace with butter or coconut oil if it’s going on the range.

  18. I’m looking for a healthy, neutral flavored oil that can handle high heat, but I don’t really see one in that group.

    1. Define “high heat” – the smoke point of avocado oil, at over 500 degrees F, is the highest of any oil. Coconut oil has the same smoke point as most “household oils” (i.e. peanut or corn oil – 450F).

      1. Are coconut and avocado oils neutral? I’d imagine not. Looking for a healthy oil that won’t affect the flavour of the cooked food too much.

        1. The flavours are subtle, at least to me. All oils have some taste to them, even things like corn oil.

      2. I am looking for the same information – best oil to use for high heat cooking (>450F). I thought I had this straight before stumbling upon MDA, I was using 100% mechanically (expeller) pressed naturally refined organic coconut oil for med-high heat (smoke point 365F) and 100% expeller pressed naturally refined avocado oil for high heat (up to 510F). This post suggests refined oils are not the way to go (although perhaps this did not include what I understand is a healthier expeller pressed method?) But I don’t see a recommendation in this post for a high heat cooking oil. Unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of 280F (medium heat). Should I be using Macadamia nut oil for high heat cooking? Palm oil? Recommendations would be most appreciated!

    2. Lard or similar animal fat. This is only oils. If you’re cooking at high heat, that’s a great way to go. And if rendered properly, it doesn’t taste meaty. Also lard in my experience, does well once the product has been cooled, and doesn’t congeal unless there’s a lot of it or it’s very cold.

  19. “Wait, what’s wrong with “light” olive oil?” I didn’t see this addressed yet, so Matt, my understanding is that the “light” label means more refined. “In the U.S., flavorless and often low quality (refined) oil is sold as “lite” or “light” oil. ” That’s lifted from oliveoilsource.com, which also says that there’s much oil “of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product”, and so they put a word that has positive connotations (“light”) on the label and sell it here.

    1. As I noted above a few seconds ago, “light olive oil” can also mean olive oil mixed with something like canola oil.

  20. Im glad you mention red palm oil, I just saw it in the health food store the other day and the bottle (of course) was all rah! rah! red palm oil! Good to know it’s good, but has anyone tasted it? A little pricey for me to just jump in and buy a huge jar of it!

    1. I don’t like the taste of it at all. I bought a jar of Jungle brand (if I remember correctly) and it’s supposed to be the good kind, from West Africa, but it tasted and smelled weird to me, almost rancid. I can only use it mixed with ghee and coconut oil (see my post on that below) to dilute the strong flavor and odor. It also colors the food, which can be helpful with some dishes, but it’s not exactly a neutral oil.

    2. rpo smells and tastes a bit like violets. i like to use it in stews and thick, meaty dishes.

      i like to fry eggs in it too.

    3. I like it. Don’t use it all the time, but nice for the occasional flavor change.

      I think it give a curry flavor? I dont know? There is a post on MDA. Follow the link above.

    4. I wouldn’t add palm oil to something where you experience the flavour directly, like a mug of tea. (I’m guilty of dropping in a dallop of VCO to my tea) but for frying eggs in, it’s alright. It gives a distinctive taste, but it’s more subtle when used as a part of something.

      Also, don’t cook with it wearing a shirt you like, it’ll stain everything including your countertop.

      1. My husband is west african, and red oil definatly has a distictive taste. they eat it with different types of greens, so i would try it with any leafy greens! If you can find a west indian/african grocery store its not too expensive.

  21. Is anybody concerned about the 3:6 ratio here? None of them seem to really be favorable aside from flax and fish oil!

    1. Omega-3 from Flax is not the best absorbed form. You need a high quality fish oil. Based on a survey, 44 out of 47 bottles of flax seed oil sold in stores are rancid (oxidized)!

  22. Mark,

    One caution when asking for foods to be cooked in butter: I’ve been to a lot of restaurants that treat margarine and butter as completely the same! I ask for butter, the waiter brings a glob of hydrogenated corn oil and I can tell just by looking that it isn’t butter.

    I’ve had managers come to the table to ask what I was wanting, and I told them I wanted butter, not margarine. It’s amazing the number of restaurant managers who will look like a deer in the headlights and say “What’s the difference?”

    Well, one comes from cows, one comes from corn.

    And there have been a few restaurants in which I’ve told the manager I won’t eat there again until they have butter. Steak dipped in melted MARGARINE? Good Lord! What an offense to the cow that steak came from!

    🙂

      1. On a similar note, I recently went to a fancy little tea house and got skim milk for “cream.” They didn’t even have half and half! If I hadn’t been with my little girl, I would have walked right out.

        1. This happened to me recently at a cafe! I ordered a hot chocolate and was asked if I wanted some milk in it and I said, “No, but I would love some cream.”

          Cue the blinking and stare. “But we have nonfat milk, soymilk, rice milk.”

          “No, I’ll have cream, please.”

          Then they tried to offer me that “cream” from the aerosol can. x__x

    1. Hahahahaha, I liked this one so much that I nearly fell off the chair!

      Keep up the good comments! 😉

      P.S. Hi, Mark,…it’s nice to see ya here!!! ;-))))

      1. I love that here in Portland, there is not only half and half, and all of the lowfat rice/soy/nutmilks, but they are also starting to offer coconut milk in he coffee shops. I’m guessing it’s the stuff in the carton and not in the can, but it’s progress. There are so many food allergies and special ways of eating in this town, pretty much anywhere a foodie would eat is covered. We even have restaurants like “Dick’s Kitchen” that are ALL real food, including game and grassfed meats, and they make their own ferments. They even have more than one “Paleo Bowl” . LOVE that place.

  23. Good list, but one big entry was left out that I always recommend, because it’s an exceptional high-heat oil. I never see any of the primal/paleo bloggers mention it, so I will:

    Tea oil
    http://is.gd/6GJao

    This is the Asian version of olive oil, having been around for 1000+ years, and like EVOO, it’s full of healthy polyphenols.

    More:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_oil

    BTW, I never recommend any oil/fat with greater than 12 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids — that’s a great rule of thumb that’s easy to follow.

    Handy chart on good versus bad oils (avoid oils with combined red and green area greater than 12 percent):
    http://is.gd/6GKzR

  24. Hi Mark,
    I loved this post!
    I put this in the wrong place before so am reposting. You asked what edible oils readers prefer, and why.

    I use what I call “coconut ghee.” I make clarified butter from the best quality butter (preferably unsalted) that I can find, and do it ghee-style, that is, cooked longer to develop antioxidant compounds and more flavor. After skimming the whey from the top and pouring the butter oil (ghee) off the casein clumps that have sunk to the bottom of the saucepan, I mix the warm ghee that results with unrefined coconut oil in approximately equal portions (or up to 2/3 to 1/3, either way). Keep stirring or shaking the mixture of ghee and coconut oil in jars so it stays blended as it cools and solidifies. Needs no refrigeration. This is the tastiest cooking fat around, very healthful, with a relatively high smoke point (though I never push the temperatures), and is quite neutral in taste. Neutral but yummy. It’s perfect for those who want to use more coconut oil but don’t like a coconutty taste. You can also mix in a shot or two of unrefined palm oil if you have some but are put off by the strong color and flavor.
    Sometimes I’ll add a little olive oil to this mixture when cooking, depending on the recipe, but more often than not I use it alone. It is THE BEST.

      1. I invented it, that’s why!
        Love your book, btw. I’m halfway through. If only I could get my sweetie to read it. He has read a bit of your blog and respects you, fortunately. He loved the marinade recipes.

        1. Jeanmarie,
          Green Pasture’s sells a “Blue Breeze Organic Coconut Ghee”. Hope they didn’t steal it from you!

        2. This is what I do when I want my dish to have the flavor of ghee but don’t have enough of it to use it exclusively.

        3. Mark, no problem, I was just thinking how I should write this up as a full post for my blog. I’d be happy for you to republish or quote extensively from it. (I’m a very beginning blogger, and it would be an honor to contribute to MDA!)

          Art, I did hear at some point that Green Pasture sells a “coconut ghee” but I swear I made up mine first! At least we came up with it independently. I haven’t even looked closely at theirs so I’m not sure what they do.

  25. Does anyone know about Pumpkin Seed Oil benefits? Is it a good Primal oil?

    1. There was a post about hempseeds recently. I don’t know about hemp seed oil it’s very high in PUFAs. I’d treat it just the same as I would flax oil. Okay on salads occasionally.

  26. I’ve been meaning to try macadamia nut oil for a while now. The guys at Slankers Grass-Fed Meats (google it) are big proponents. Maybe when I’m no so indigent. 🙂

  27. Mark, what about 03 supplements for meat-eaters who are allergic to fish and seafood? I get varying degrees of allergic reaction to different kinds of fish (from my tongue tingling from salmon to my throat completely swelling up from dolphinfish.) Because of this allergy, I have never experimented with either the consumption of shellfish, or with fish oils? Am I really losing out by not taking fish oil?

    1. Maybe try krill oil? It might work.

      And you must tell me of this wondrous dolphinfish.

      1. Hmm… I’ve never thought of krill oil.

        And dolphinfish is another name for mahi-mahi. 🙂

    2. We are only allergic to protein components of any food. A refined fish oil should be free of any protein.

  28. I agonised for ages about my bottle of macadamia oil, so glad I made a good choice!

  29. I use Olive oil all the time. I know it’s best to pour on meat after cooking, but the meat (without a lot of fat) comes out so much more tender and juicy when I pour it on. Is cooking it at 400 too high? Even if it looses the Omega 3’s (and other benefits), does it harm the Olive Oil? If need be, I could pour some on top after cooking too, just to replenish the benefits of the oil.
    Thanks for clarifying the oils. We are going to buy coconut oil soon to cook some gluten free recipes. Have you tried the book, or know about the “Gluten Free-Almond flour Recipes”, book? They sell it on Amazon, and other places. It looked good, but just how healthy are the recipes? Do anyone know? And if not this book, does anyone know a great recipe book to buy?

    1. Esther,
      You might want to check out the blog of the author of the gluten free almond flour recipe book to get an idea of her recipes. elanaspantry.com

    2. Her book is good, but she uses way too much agave nectar and grapeseed oil and calls her recipes “healthy” for me to call it a good buy. I’ve ended up having to make modifications of coconut oil, ghee and other fats to all her recipes. She still fears the fats and focuses on lean meats.

  30. I want to mention high-oleic sunflower oil as well. It’s sunflower oil that’s been bred (not genetically engineered) to have a high monounsaturated fat content and low omega-6. It has about as much PUFA as olive oil, or even less. It’s cheap too. It’s my preferred oil when I need something with a mild flavor. You can buy “naturally refined” (whatever that means) HO-sunflower oil that has a very high smoke point.

    The label will say if it’s high-oleic, or you can just look at the nutrient breakdown. It should have 1-1.5 g PUFA per tablespoon.

    1. Thanks–great post! I remember in PB reading about high-oleic sunflower and high-oleic safflower oil being okay, and I’ve been happily using the latter. Mark, is this still a good choice or should I d/c using it?
      P.S. I was the one who emailed you about avocado oil and you said you hadn’t heard of it–glad it made the list. 🙂 I occasionally use it, along with almond oil (a bit lighter tasting than walnut oil).

  31. Nice Job Mark, Thanks for the thought and the time on this “essential” post 🙂

  32. “Comes from cotton. You know, the stuff that shirts are made of?”
    xxxxxxxxxxxD

  33. Hi Mark, just wondering what you think about almond oil? I think its delicious in smoothees!

  34. To their credit (or just dumb luck?) many processed food manufacturers have started using the high oleic oils (eg, high oleic sunflower, high oleic safflower). They are almost completely monounsaturated, as the previous post pointed out. For an inexpensive alternative to the higher priced oils mentioned favorably here, they’re probably not bad. Spectrum sells them and I believe claims that they are never heated above 250F in the expeller extraction process.

  35. I bought a load of coconut oil a while back and found it not that great for cooking (it doesn’t seem to stop stuff sticking to the pan). It may just be the brand but it is a natural (unrefined) one. I also find the flavour and smell intrusive so I only use it for stir frying now.
    For everything else I’ve taken to using duck fat, which I found in my local supermarket. Not cheap but it’s great for cooking with! I’ll use butter occassionally as well (eggs taste great cooked in butter).
    I use olive oil for salads but also stir a little into bolognese towards the end of cooking to enhance flavour. I stopped frying with it quite a while back now.

    1. I’ve noticed this about coconut oil too. I think it gets absorbed into my foods more than other oils. I’ve gone back to butter or red palm oil. Bacon grease also seems to make a great slick surface, plus the taste.

  36. Mark, what are your thoughts on high-heat sunflower and safflower oils such ad those offered by Spectrum? They are almost 80% MUFA.

  37. First of all thank you for the wonderful website and the great book. Both have changed mine and my wifes lives for the better. Ok, I am a pecan grower and love to eat them and cook with the oil. I was wondering what you thought of the oil. I love the stuff, it is simple, light and tasty.

  38. Hello Mark,

    I’ve read your blog for a while – thanks for working so tirelessly on a great public resource!

    Glad you posted about this today and have a quick question, to echo a previous commenter – Hemp oil? Thoughts?

    Thanks for your time.

  39. In addition to their deliciousness, olive, coconut, and almond oil are all very good for hair care!

  40. “For those that “do dairy”, try mixing a bit with some full-fat Greek yogurt, or unsweetened fresh whipped cream and berries”

    How I didn’t think of this I have no idea! Brilliant. Headed to town in just a bit. Health food store better not be out of real yogurt! 😉

  41. I use butter, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil (shortening). I also have some sesame oil on hand as well as safflower oil which aren’t used very much. The safflower oil I use to make mayonnaise, but I probably shouldn’t use it? It’s a high oleic Spectrum Organics oil – higher MUFAs than PUFAs. Unfortunately I just bought a big bottle. It makes such a nice mayo though. Maybe I will not rebuy when I use it up

  42. I’m not so hot on flax oil, but I do use 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed each day in my avocado (1 large), flaxseed (2T), berry (1/2 Cup), coco (1T), cinnamon (1t), stevia (to taste) shake. The avocado acts just like cream and is quite yummy.

    From my observations the flax makes my skin look and feel wonderful. I have used chia in place of the flax but I noticed that used over a six week period it does not preserve the moisture in my skin like flax does. I’ve had 2T of freshly ground flaxseed in my shake every day for four years now (except for the chia 6 week experiment). I call my shake “The Shake for Life”.

    I also use walnut oil daily, about 1 tablespoon mixed with fresh lemon juice on a salad. I also use walnut oil to make my mayo that is used mainly for chicken salad. It’s yummy and for some reason my chicken salad always makes me lose a pound 3 days later.

  43. There’s a large PUFA variance listed for olive oil. Should I assume that EVOO has the lowest PUFA?

  44. Great guide, Mark. I’m not eating grapeseed oil, but I’ve read it’s great as carrier oil for essential oils or herbs and for skin care. Anyone got anything saying it’s safe to use GO on the skin or as a carrier oil for the bathwater?

    1. Paleo- try using Emu Oil as your skin care carrier! It is excellently absorbed by human skin- so well that it is often used for burn victims!

  45. It’s pretty pointless and heavy handed to say to “avoid” a certain type of oil, especially sunflower oil. There’s nothing BAD about it at all. If you balance your oil consumption out with enough essential fatty acids, you can eat whatever you want.

    It’s kind of sad seeing the first post saying he wanted to throw his sunflower oil out just because he read a post on the internet about it being bad.

    1. Whilst I agree it would be a bad idea to abandon all omega-6 oils to improve 6:3 ratios, I would definitely suggest to any client that they throw out any supermarket-bought sunflower, rapeseed or vegetable oil. This is because they have been degummed, bleached and deoderized. By defaults, I’d recommend coconut oil for cooking, flaxseed oil to add to salads, plus oily fish.

  46. Liam, there are lots of oils I avoid, for a very good reason: they’re refined, bleached and deodorized, and therefore damaged, and those oils are usually too high in PUFAs, especially Omega 6, to begin with. I get along just fine without sunflower oil. I have to make up for the fact that I was raised on margarine and Crisco!

  47. Mark,
    how about Rice bran oil?
    do you advise to use it like olive oil
    or it just the same as corn and soya?

    thank you

  48. Thanks for nice article. It would be great if you can cover rice oil as well, since it’s publicly touted as “the health oil” (see http://www.californiariceoil.com/healthbenefits.htm). E.g. in one health-conscientious gourmet buffet I know they use rice oil for all cooking and salads (and don’t even have the olive oil anymore).

  49. Mark,

    Any recommendations for an oil to use in a countertop deep fryer? I had been using peanut oil, since it seemed “healthier” than the alternatives. The directions say not to use a solid fat, such as shortening or lard, which somewhat rules out coconut oil.

    1. “the directions”? What directions? Solid fats tend to be more saturated, therefore have less PUFA and less potential for oxidation etc. I use coconut oil, lard, beef tallow or duck fat for high heat cooking

    2. Throw out and burn those instructions. Lard or tallow are the best fats for ANY deep frier

  50. so olive oil for salads, I used to use it for stir frys too… are you saying that avacado oil or coconut oil would be better?

  51. I’ve just bought some Vitamin D3 tablets – the only ones I can find on this entire island [Tenerife] are a soybean based oil gel caps [2000iu].

    Do I skip supplementation because of this?

  52. I love coconut oil. Another benefit it has is the lauric acid content, which kills lipid coated viruses

  53. I have a question about the grape seed oil. I bought a bottle of it yesterday, and from the back the breakdown of fats is as follows. In 1 tbsp, there is a total of 14g of fat:
    2 g saturated fat
    1.5 g PUFA
    10 g MUFA

    So it’s mostly MUFA…should be great to use then, right?

    Also, I can’t seem to find coconut oil anywhere. 🙁 I live in the Chicago area and I don’t frequent different types of stores all that often, but in four different ones I’ve been, I haven’t found any…

  54. Hmm..I have a bottle of “Saffola” safflower oil at home, but its fat distribution is different from what you have above.

    According to the nutrition facts on the bottle, it’s mostly MUFA with a bit of PUFA. I looked online and according to
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/574/2
    it also shows that safflower oil has pretty good ratios.

    This means that safflower oil is not a bad choice to eat right?

  55. I am a bit confused about the difference between “conjugated linoleic acid” which is good and “linoleic acid” which is not.

    I purchased a supplement of CLA and discovered its derived from safflower oil, which my first reaction to say this is bad PUFAs. When is CLA ok? Is CLA from beef different from CLA from plants?

  56. I usually keep Olive, Toasted Sesame and Sunflower oil in my kitchen.

    I use coconut milk often, but have never tried coconut oil, so I’ll have to give that a go.

    I’m wondering what you would recommend as a high-heat low-taste oil to replace sunflower. I currently use it whenever I would use butter but don’t want the taste in my dish.

    As a side note:

    All of my oils are the Spectrum brand, minimally processed if at all and the olive (which is the only one I buy in a large enough quantity to worry about it keeping) comes in a very dark green bottle. They only have a three month shelf-life once opened so I can’t forget about the bottle and pull it out months later to use like I just bought it, but that’s to be expected from things that aren’t processed to hell and back. I can smell and taste the difference between this brand and all the others I’ve tried. While it is a bit more expensive it’s a good value compared to other oils of similar quality.

  57. I really appreciate your article. we have struggled with what oil to use for cooking. we are very health concerned and read labels, and I am always on line looking up ingredients in foods. so thanks for your article. we will look for coconut oil in our supermarket.

  58. Why is walnut oil not something you want to use every day? That section is confusing. Is it because it’s expensive? Fattening? What?

  59. what about hemp oil im guessing it aint great for cooking etc because it is high in PUFAs but it is has a very good omega 3 omega 6 ratio so probably very good for salads right? bet it goes rancid easily though

  60. I use Macadamia Nut Oil almost exclusively because of it’s great buttery flavor and high smoke point. I found oilsofaloha.com in Hawaii. They make their own oil and ship direct so it’s fresh (and pretty cost effective.) They’ve got some awesome flavored oils as well that I use for dressings.

  61. Don’t forget that cotton is the most heavily sprayed agricultural crop (though in some places, potatoes give it a run for its toxic money).

    I don’t like even walking past products with cottonseed oil in them.

  62. I am a huge coconut oil fan. I recommend it to my clients, however, many are resistant due to being saturated and high in calories. I try to explain to them that what we learned in the 80’s wasn’t entirely on the mark and not all calories are equal. I use it in my smoothies and in my baths.

  63. I’m new so my commends may not be appropriate…”No oil is the best oil”?
    For 3 yrs++ I do not buy a drop of oil for cooking! I’m still alive..my health seems to improve..barely visit doctor..not even a flu… Please comment. P.S. Natural diet already contain enough (essential)oil (?).

  64. The link to the Paleo Diet Oils table no longer exists. Is it available anywhere else?

    Love your posts and recipes. Keep ’em coming!!

  65. I use high oleic sunflower oil to make my mayonnaise. It’s much higher in monounsaturated fats than the regular, I’ve heard comparable to olive oil.

    Any comment?

  66. Help. I love to fry plantains and need high heat. I use olive oil, coconut oil and ghee for all my other needs but they don’t work well for frying plantains! Any ideas? Shame on me because I use safflower oil for making them…

  67. Mectech is supply the best technology, edible oil refinery machinery, edible oil plants, solvent plant extraction, and vegetable oil refining plant and biodiesel plants in vegetable oils, fats industry.
    Sort Desc: Mectech is supply the best edible oil refinery plants, vegetable oil refinery equipment and technology in vegetable oils, fats and related fields.

  68. I’m a little confused. I’m doing some reading up on the Paleo lifestyle as I’m looking to change into it, and I just got done reading The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. This book advocates using Flax Seed and Olive Oil and says to stay away from Coconut Oil because of it’s high density of saturated fat.
    What gives?

  69. As someone who cannot stand the taste of olives or avocado, it is extremely difficult to find a replacement to use on salads. I need a very neutral oil with no strong flavour. I use coconut oil and butter for cooking so there is no problem there. I have seen pumpkin seed oil and almond oil but I’m not sure these would be suitable for salads. Any suggestions?

  70. I have been trying to find a mild oil to make homemade mayo out of and was using organic sunflower oil without knowing better. I only use olive and coconut oil for everything else to bake or fry with so if anyone has a good idea as to an oil I could use for this purpose that is based on a primal diet, it would be much appreciated! 🙂

  71. You present yourself as an expert but you’re not giving any objective evidence. I suspect that you’re full of BS like many of your Paleo brethren.

  72. Dear Author,

    When writing about the Sunflower Seed Oil, you missed the point that it can come in 2 variations

    1. Refined (the tasteless/odorless one you mentioned)

    2. Not refined (dark yellow oil with a characteristic taste/aroma that is widely used in salads)

  73. “For information on other oils reference these tables…”

    Link no longer works–does anyone have the new location, or is this resource GFG?

    Q#2: I wish Mark had spelled it out clearly…is he selected based on minimizing PUFA and maximizing MUFA and/or SFA? With a bit of input from the ration of O6:O3?

    Of the oils with *neutral* flavor, which would be the best choice under primal guidelines?

  74. Hello, anyone reading this, try a virgin coconut oil called, Memory Oil. It is very healthy, tastes great, and also reduces epilepsy and alzheimer’s. I put it on my bagels, spaghetti, pasta, rice, corn, popcorn and etc. it’s soo good! Give it a try! 😉

  75. CAFMOP (Coconut, Avocado, Fish, Macademia, Olive, and Palm) Oils it is then. Thanks

  76. Ugh, and just today someone at the grocery store I worked at asked me where to find the safflower oil, said it will get rid of belly fat, I’m not so sure that coconut oil may have the same properties, but be way healthier

  77. Any excess canola/sunflower/nut oils in my pantry are used for soapmaking. Along with low grade olive oil they make a wonderful soap.

  78. thank you so much it really helped a lot for my project!

  79. so…this is CONFUSING
    you didnt sort the oils good or BAD
    WHY?
    and you mixed your comments so some sound good AND bad!

    yours is the 6th site i looked at and their all DIFFERENT!!
    C O N F U S E D
    Tim

    1. Tim,

      Best evidence says that using pasture butter (more omega-3), olive oil or coconut oil for cooking and everything else is likely the safest. The rest are mostly INFLAMMATORY PUFA filled (omega 6) oils and it is a wonder why we even need them. As a rule, almost all ‘vegetable oils’ which were once thought better than the alternative saturated fats are in fact NOT. They oxidize, they go rancid, and they do not hold up to heat well which breaks them further. Ironic as it is, stick to using lard, butter or coconut oil on the stove. You won’t be sorry. It’s good for you and what we’d all want flavor wise anyway. Any more questions, just post again.

  80. hey guys. I was just wondering if Apple Cider Vinegar is healthy. Also, I’ve been mixing apple cider vinegar with olive oil, is this unhealthy because of improper food combining?

    please get back to me!

  81. Good day Mark,

    So after reading through this whole oil debate…

    What oil should i be using???

  82. Hi Mark! I know that there was a post about olive oil shots but I can not find it, I’m rather skinny and was going to take olive oil shots to boost my calories (along with lots of eggs and nuts for protein). Would taking olive oil shots be healthy?

  83. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on rice bran oil and mustard seed oil, as these are the only ones I use for cooking (olive and avocado for salads)l.

  84. I like Andreas raw organic oils. I’ve never tasted anything like them. He has chia oil among others. I like his oils by the spoonful or on salads.

  85. Not a lot of detail on what the problem with rice bran oil is. I’ve seen two questions asked about it and only one answer “it’s not good”. I’ve gone and grabbed a load of data from around the web (see below) and I can’t see it’s a bad oil to use for sauteeing or even deeper frying if you want a neutral flavour. Also, that gamma oryzanol… what’s that all about?

    38-39% MUFA
    35-37% PUFA
    20-25% SFA
    Omega3 1600mg/100g
    Omega6 33400mg/100g

    Fatty acid Percentage
    C14:0 Myristic acid 0.6%
    C16:0 Palmitic acid 21.5%
    C18:0 Stearic acid 2.9%
    C18:1 Oleic acid 38.4%
    C18:2 Linoleic acid 34.4%
    C18:3 ?-Linolenic acid 2.2%

    Vitamins Amounts Per 100g %DV
    Vitamin A 0.0IU 0%
    Vitamin C 0.0mg 0%
    Vitamin D ~ ~
    Vitamin E 32.3mg 162%
    Vitamin K 24.7mcg 31%
    Thiamin 0.0mg 0%
    Riboflavin 0.0mg 0%
    Niacin 0.0mg 0%
    Vitamin B6 0.0mg 0%
    Folate 0.0mcg 0%
    Vitamin B12 0.0mcg 0%
    Pantothenic Acid0.0mg 0%

    Sterols Amounts Per 100g %DV
    Cholesterol 0.0mg 0%
    Phytosterols 1190 mg ~

    Also contains ?-oryzanol (approx. 2% by composition)

  86. so you don’t mention hemp seed oil. what do you know about it? i take two tablespoons per day and i hope i’m doing the right thing.

  87. What about tea seed oil or camellia oil,can you break it down for me?

  88. Hey, they don’t sell any coconut oil in my city, what other oil would you recommend me to cook at high heat?

  89. Great article, very helful summary of all the information I have been trying to collect. The only helpful thing that is missing would be the addition of smoke point to your fat type breakdown. I find lots of conflicting information about the smoke points of various oils (I’m thinking specifically about olive oil).

    My main question is: Is EV olive oil dangerous to cook with specifically because of its low smoke point? Or is there additional danger due to the “delicate nature” of the mono and poly unsaturated fats? ie, if a manufacturer reports a smoke point of 350 degrees (which is not unheard of, even for EVOO), is that a sign that it is ok to cook with at low temperatures? Or should it be avoided for more complex reasons related to its structure? Further, should that smoke poitn not be trusted?

    I’ll definitely be incorporating coconut oil into my general cooking routine regardless, but I’m mostly curious because I’m not clear on the answer.

    Thanks!

  90. * * * * (MMMMMMMMM) MACADAMIA NUT OIL * * * * … not at all expensive. You need to get your hands on a bottled of Olivado’s. The best price I have found !

  91. Very good information you have provided but not anything on rice bran oil pls do the same. I have silly idea of mixing rice bran oil and olive oil in equal proportion(1:1) and use for cooking pls advice.This is my humble request to you.Thanking you, with warm regards

  92. About sunflower oil, unrefined sunflower oil is dark with very strong flavor. And for Russians and related nations it’s kinda a cultural thing to consume it as salad dressings.

  93. Egoma oil (also know as shiso oil or perilla oil).
    This oil has an Omega 3 – Omega 6 ration which is even higher than flax seed oil!
    It smells much more neutral as well.

  94. I work on a ship and nearly everything is deep fried. I have just found out that they use soyabean oil. What is the best oil I can suggest to them (realistically) to buy within their measly budget? we have already complained about the amount of deep fried foods and discussed alternative cooking methods.

  95. I should preface that I’m a chemist with 14 years experience, many of which have been in medical research. This is a pretty good write up and answered my question (I was curious about the nutritional information of cottonseed oil used to store some smoked oysters I like – sucks to find out that it is a bad oil).

    But I also have a couple critiques of your article. First, you mention oil “going rancid” quite a few times, and while you don’t go into detail about what that means, the implication is that it is very bad. The reality is, going rancid is just the process of fatty acids being hydrolysed from triglycerides. Carboxylic acids tend to smell foul. The good news is twofold: 1, if an oil has gone rancid, you’ll know – it stinks. 2, it doesn’t affect the nutrition of the oil. Your body hydrolyzes the triglycerides as well, so if the smell doesn’t bother you, then you shouldn’t be afraid of it (now if there is moisture in the oil, that could mean bacterial contamination, but bacteria NEED water, so as long as the oil is dry, it should be fine). I just wanted to clear that up.

  96. I have become addicted to cooking with coconut oil because of the fantastic aroma! (I love coconut, any way you want to serve it). I scoop the solidified oil out of the tub with a spoon, drop a dollop in the pan, and then eat whatever is left on the spoon.

    OK, so maybe I am not diligent in getting most of the solid oil off the spoon, but “licking the spoon” from the coconut oil tub is way better than licking the spoon from the wheat-filled cookie dough bowl! 🙂

  97. Mark, seriously WTH???

    Animal fats are conspicuously missing from this list of cooking oils, and if it’s because they are solid at room temperature than please remove coconut oil from this list too

    Lard and Tallow are the kings of the kitchen as far as this guy is concerned.

  98. No quite the definitive guide.
    Cold pressed hemp seed oil and 100% organic.
    Try again!

  99. Hello Mark, what oil do you recommend using for shallow frying? (I don’t shallow fry/deep fry often, maybe a few times a year if that)

  100. I am a brand new at Paleo (5th day) and have been reading your web site every minute I get. I am really confused about which oil to use if I want to stir fry veggies or brown meat. My husband does not like the taste of coconut oil although I love it. What should I use?

    By the way, your emails go to my junk mail?? Can something be changed?

    I really appreciate your site and it has been a great guide for me.

  101. I have found fish oil supplements end up floating on top of my toilet water…just what the hell they mix the actual fish oil with I dont want to know! For this reason I use flaxseed oil & can feel the difference especially in my fingers, my joints are freer & feel less inflamed compared to the supps. Cannot afford fish here at over $40/kg!

  102. Would it not be ok to use grapeseed oil to make mayo since you are not heating it? I need a good neutral taste oil to make mayo with.

  103. I have always used mainly olive oil and/or butter. I have also used sesame oil for stir-fry’s and bacon fat for almost every kind of cooking. We do a lot of bacon and I always have a supply of bacon fat I keep in the refrigerator. I use peanut oil when I fry a turkey and lard when we break out the Fry-Daddy (a rare occasion). Since beginning my primal journey, I have added coconut oil to the mix. I have a question, though. I have a recipe for a Greek salad dressing that calls for 2/3 olive oil and 1/3 corn oil. The reasoning is that with olive oil, the dressing becomes more like mayonnaise than dressing. The corn oil lightens it up. I don’t make Greek salad dressing very often, just using a French vinaigrette and adding feta cheese to the salad rather than to the dressing. Is there a light neutral flavored edible oil that is primal friendly, especially considering it will be combined with olive oil in a 1:2 ratio?

  104. Unless I’m missing something obvious, but this article doesn’t actually say what the acronyms stand for?

    1. Sorry, sorry, sorry!!! I have just seen the response above, I’ll put this little error down to the fact that the comments display oldest first rather than the newest at the top.

      No need to reply.

  105. I have been suffering a sever eczema attack, a little over three months ago, which first announced itself in my early fifties. Water fasting 31 days over December and into January did nothing to help. I have been oiling my skin with coconut virgin oil for a number of years with questionable support.

    Seriously, it became so bad that I could not see myself continuing on like this. Life with the misery I was suffering was taking me to some very dark thoughts. Fortunately, I have a loving family who forced me to medical practices and I began the chemical dance. However, the chemicals only work so far for me an after a few weeks my symptoms began to worsen. I use them sparingly and then rest a day or so between applications of the watered down cream.

    I have not used AA oils, sunflower, safflower etc., in years. I am even very careful with rare uses of flax oil. PUFA are so easy to become rancid.
    Then I read on the Linus Pauling site that coconut oil does nothing for the skin and that AA oils were important for the skin. I bought some from a grocery store, not organic which I shall be getting next, and use it internally and externally, unheated, and my skin is better for it. I also bought organic flax seed oil but when I opened it, it was rancid. The Safflower oil certain helps externally and possibly internally. But, I have to wash it off my skin, after about six hours—I do not use any soaps, ever, but use baking soda in the shower with light finger rubbing instead. I find Safflower oil works in protecting my skin, possibly healing as well, much better (to my surprise) than virgin coconut oil. But this I shall continue to study, and if it must be used long-term, then as little and as infrequently as possible.

    I also read about MSM with added Vitamin C and a tiny amount of alcohol, (2 g MSM, 1tsp C and less than a thimble of Chinese salt cooking alcohol (inexpensive) or hard liquor and water) was good to imbibe and apply to the skin. Amazingly, it is the second support (after the AA—PUFA Sunflower oil) my system seems to need. I do up a days supply, 3x above recipe; but do not take any after 5pm as it does disturb my sleep, otherwise. During the first day my skin began to mend amazingly quickly. It immediately ended the electrical (electrocution) sensation that snaps around parts of my arms, legs and back. And the crazy damaged thick skin is dropping off and healthy skin is taking its place—my skin is so much improved after only two days–wherefore, this past half year or so, sloughing, mealy skin is all that I have seen. To see actual healing taking place is such a relief.

    I have no idea what is going on, especially since I have read and applied the warnings by avoiding all seed oils. I do not even like olive oil, the taste and the information I have read about it not being the good oil that so many places claim it to be. (Sorry Mark.)

    At least I have read that eczema is one skin condition that can be cleared up. . . but I suspect that there must be specific protocols for different people as I have been relentless in trying to follow what is usually suggested. Hopefully this time I have found the mix that seems to work for me.

    I haven’t even gone into what my herbalist has me on. Other than the liver detox (Milk Thistle liquid) I suspect little has resulted from that trip.

    Namaste and care,
    mhikl

  106. Mark in your book you say that safflower oil is ok but in this article it advises to stay away from it. Can you clarify this?

  107. What oil should I use for high temp cooking and baking if my family doesnt like coconut and extra virgin olive oil?

  108. Hello! I would like to make a paleo-ified version of crispy rolls, which requires deep frying, and am unsure of what oil to use. I almost always use coconut oil, but feel it would throw off the overall flavor. I have Spectrum expeller pressed unrefined sesame oil – would this be okay? I rarely use it but of course there will be a decently high concentration of it in the rolls because I will be deep frying it. Would it be a crime to use the sesame oil? Please say no! Haha.

  109. Just wondered why there was no mention of the fact that Sesame oil is almost half Omega 6 with almost no Omega 3. Seems pretty risky … like Sunflower and Safflower.

  110. Just wondered why sesame oil almost sounded attractive here? There was no mention of the fact that it’s almost half omega 6, with almost no omega 3. Another death oil, like sunflower and safflower.

  111. I understand why you recommend fish oil, but I’m concerned about pollution in the sea … the gyres of plastic, radiation from Fukushima, toxic runoff from land etc etc. How can we know that the fish we’re eating isn’t contaminated? Also I’ve heard that if we don’t change the way we’re living, that all the fish will have died off in 40 years time. It’s a depressing and worrying thought …

  112. Mark coconut oil is the best why to save clean your face and pros also i just write an article about this in my new blog i show to my audience how can use coconut oil at home thank’s for your post

  113. So what oil do you recommend for high heat? Something with a higher heat point than EVOO

    1. Oh never mind, I just read the comments further down… Rice bran oil is not good, eh.

  114. I’m trying to find the perfect oil for the perfect paleo mayonnaise. I’ve tried a few different ones and the results have all left something to be desired. some people I’ve spoken with say to use a neutral flavoured olive oil. but i stand in the oil aisle and have got no idea which one to get. which one (brand) is the perfect oil for this task?

  115. Hi Mark,

    It seems there haven’t been many replies to comments recently, but I will post, in case anyone else has input.

    I am just beginning to balance out my Omega 3:6 ratio, so I want the best ratio possible, at least in the beginning to bring my unhealthy ratio down quickly.

    I have referenced this excellent Omega3:Omega6 ratio chart:
    http://paleozonenutrition.com/2011/05/10/omega-6-and-3-in-nuts-oils-meat-and-fish-tools-to-get-it-right/

    In addition to eating salmon, I\’d like to have some dressing on my salad, but still end up consuming more Omega 3s. If olive oil has a 6-3 ratio of 10:1 I should avoid it, correct? It seems like the only oil with a good ratio is flaxseed oil, that could get expensive. The next best would seem like an unrefined cold-pressed canola oil.

    I’m assuming butter oil basically means ghee? That ratio is pretty good, I suppose I could use it to make a dressing and then just barely heat it to melt it and put it on salad.

    Thanks,
    Gregory

  116. My question is which oils, and how much oil (especially as a vegetarian) should we have a day? I do not eat what I should additionally. Currently I do take an avocado oil supplement daily. I dont get any Omega 3s I think. Basically broken down …what should one get each day? Thx

  117. Hi there; In the district of Steriermarken in the southern part of Austria they are quite famed for their Kürboskernöl, oil made from coldpressing pumpkin seeds. The oil is very dark and buttery/nutty and excellent (tastewise) on anything from salads to (I’m not kidding) vanilla ice cream 🙂 But how does it fare health-wise?