Cooking Fats: Which to Avoid and Which to Enjoy  

I LOVE mayonnaise, but I HATE making my own. Well, maybe I wouldn’t hate making my own so much if I was good at it. I was only successful once and it was a glorious day. All the other times I tried it was a major fail. I’m just not patient enough to slowly add the oil to allow for the proper emulsion to occur. Failing at making homemade mayo is not only sad because you don’t have mayo, but pouring the soupy concoction of incorrectly combined oils and ingredients in the garbage is like pouring $20 in the garbage. 💸💸💸💸😱  SO, I placed an order for all natural, organic, non GMO avocado oil mayo from The Primal Kitchen ! Super excited to have mayo back in my life.  Conventional mayos, such as Hellmans, generally contain highly processed seed oils such as canola oil, vegetable oil, and soybean oil.  I try my best to steer clear of those.  


I personally feel that using high quality fats and oils for cooking and eating is pretty important. When I went paleo over a year ago, highly processed cooking oils were the first thing I swapped out.  I used to use canola oil, vegetable oil, and country crock – thinking as most people do, that these were healthy, low fat, cholesterol lowering options as the companies who profit from these products would have us all believe.  THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE.  

While the following is no where near an exhaustive list of all the dangers of highly processed oils, the problems listed below are my main reasons for choosing high quality, saturated or monounsaturated, minimally processed cooking fats:

“Vegetable” oils are highly processed and aren’t even made from vegetables. They are made using seeds that are processed under high heat, extreme pressure, and toxic chemical solvents. So, not only is there the potential for toxic residues, but any nutritional value that the original seed may have contained is mostly if not completely stripped away.  

These oils are very unstable. Because they are polyunsaturated ( meaning they have multiple bonds in their chemical makeup that are not fully satisfied) they are more likely to react with oxygen and spoil or to become damaged when put in a hot pan for cooking.  Our body uses the fat we consume to repair and build new cells.  Cell membranes are made of phospholipids…aka…FATS!!  So, by consuming imperfect fats we are repairing and building cells with imperfections. Not only does cooking with easily damaged fats cause problems at a cellular level, but it also can create harmful compounds that vaporize while cooking and become inhaled, potentially causing damage to the lungs. 

Seed oils are also highly inflammatory. They have a very poor omega 6/omega 3 ratio. While we do need both of those in our diet they have to be in proper balance, and the high levels of omega 6 found in these oils contributes to systemic inflammation, which brings with it its own host of problems. 

The polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils, due to their unstable nature, are also contributing to the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDLs). These damaged lipoproteins are the type that build up in arteries and cause blockages. These oils are marketed, based on outdated and flawed research,  to “reduce” the instances of heart disease; in reality they are quite possibly helping to cause it. 

TRANS FATS.  These dangerous fats are created when man made liquid oils have a hydrogen atom forced into their chemical structure using a chemical catalyst.  This creates solid fats such as margarine, country crock, and crisco. And don’t be fooled by the label “trans fat free” or “no trans fats”. Industry standards allow these labels to be used when the product contains less than 0.5g Trans fat PER SERVING. So in reality, that tub of man made gunk is swimming with transfats, even after their dangers have been revealed. How deceiving is that???  The unnatural movement of hydrogen atoms that occurs from the process of partial hydrogenation creates a substance that the human body is not equipped to use and disrupts thousands of necessary chemical reactions with in the body.  Not only does our body use fats to build and repair, fat is also a source of energy.  If we are consuming the “frankenfats” our body isn’t recognizing them as usuable sources of energy. Liz Wolfe has a really great section in her book Eat the Yolks that discusses transfats, their creation, and dangers. 

Other articles on seed oils you may want to check out:

Eat Local Grown – 11 serious concerns about vegetable oils 

Diane Sanfilippo – Fats: Which to Eat & Which to Ditch 

My go to fats for cooking:

Sustainably sourced unrefined coconut oil, avocado oil, grassfed butter and/or ghee, organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, bacon fat from pastured pigs, lard or tallow from pastured animals.  These fats and oils are considered “saturated”, meaning they are much more stable.   The above article by Diane Sanfilippo gives a great little explanation of why “saturated fats” aren’t actually completley saturated, as their name suggests. (and it also links to her downloadable pdf visual guide of which fats to eat and which to ditch.) If they were they would be hard, waxy, and completely indigestible. They are actually a combination of saturated and monounsaturated, which makes them more stable than ployunsaturated fats, but still digestible.  They are so stable that many of them don’t even need to be refrigerated. I keep my coconut oil and ghee right on my counter in mason jars for easy access.  

When cooking with animal fats (butter, ghee, lard, tallow, etc) it is important to make sure they are from pasture raised organic sources. When toxins are consumed (by animal or people) they are stored in the fat.  So, in using fat from conventionally raised animals, you would be consuming the part of the animal containing the highest concentrations of toxins.  Fat from well raised animals who are healthy and fed their natural diet of grass and forage, contains many important micronutrients such as CLA (which is only found naturally in animal products), A, D, E, and K2. 

So, there you have it. There is no good reason (besides an honest medical condition that may prohibit you from properly digesting fats) that well sourced, high quality saturated fats should be avoided. Many of them contain important micro nutrients, and when consumed in proper ratio, for your build and activity level, with a paleo/primal diet they help to fuel your body and keep energy high throughout the day.  Eat fat to burn fat!!!!  



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