Fats and oils are one of the most contentious areas of nutrition today. Which oils are we supposed to eat? Which are we supposed to avoid? Do we trust Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions who says to go hog wild with animal fats, or do we trust the cancer researchers who advise a more restrained approach? I thought I knew a lot about this topic a few years ago, and I must admit, I know far less now.

So while I'm admittedly no expert, I do try to pay attention to the research on this continually moving target. For what it's worth, here are my own thoughts and practices.

These are the oils I do know for sure are bad, and make a point to never eat:

Soybean oil (also simply called "vegetable oil") - it's nasty GMO and hormone disrupting.
Unfortunately, most of the oils used in restaurants and processed foods today are soybean oil. Look for it (and avoid it) in salad dressings, mayonnaise, hummus, and oil-packed products like canned fish. When eating out, assume that all foods are fried in GMO soybean oil unless told otherwise.

Canola (rapeseed) oil - Man, is this one ever controversial. You can do your own research and reach your own conclusions, but at the very least, it's GMO, and that's reason enough for me to avoid it.

Cottonseed oil - It's high in pesticides and industrial contaminants, plus it's not a food.

All hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils ("trans" fats) - Adding a hydrogen atom to liquid fats makes them solid at room temperature and less likely to spoil. However, adding that hydrogen atom turns those fats into neurotoxins that can strip away the myelin sheath surrounding your nerves and lead to premature aging, diabetes, brain and nerve damage, and more. Read details here:

Here are the oils that are currently in fashion and considered good:

- Olive oil (unless heated to the smoke point)
- Walnut oil
- Coconut oil
- Omega 3 fatty acids (like those found in salmon and mackerel)

Here are the oils that are now in question, in part because of their Omega-6 content, which can potentially be inflammatory:

- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Corn oil (most of which is already bad for you because unless it's organic, it's GMO)

These are the oils and fats in my own kitchen nowadays:

- Olive oil (for low-heat sauteeing)
- Extra virgin olive oil for raw use
- Walnut oil - for medium heat cooking
- Coconut oil - for higher heat cooking when the coconut taste won't matter
- Rice bran oil from the Asian market (I use it because I haven't seen anything opposing its use yet and it's cheap)
- Peanut oil - for high heat frying (also from the Asian market and cheap, comparatively)
- Organic butter and ghee (for occasional use with eggs, Indian dishes, or added to oatmeal)
- Rendered goose fat (for the very rare, occasional, splurge when it adds joy to a French bean or potato recipe. We cook a goose each Christmas and save the quart of fat that results in the fridge.)
- Cocoa butter (mostly for topical use, but I'd be willing to eat it in a pinch)

My own cholesterol and blood numbers (HDL, LDL ratio, etc.) are consistently excellent -- way, way better than the high end of the healthy range, so I must be doing something right. I limit my use of oils and don't eat much fried food at all.  I eat red meat (beef or lamb) maybe once a month, never eat pork, eat organic or free-range poultry regularly, including lots of ground turkey instead of ground beef, eat lots of baked chicken, and love baked fish of all kinds. A good baked piece of salmon has plenty of fat, and it's the good kind, so that's what I eat when I want something filling and greasy. :)

I hope I didn't steer my radio listeners too far wrong when I recommended safflower oil a few years back. I used it for years, then transitioned away from it when the new research started coming out. Now we buy expensive oils like walnut and coconut, and cheap oils like rice bran and peanut. And then we cross our fingers.

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  • Chris
    2 years, 8 months ago - Reply - Link

    uh oh...I try to be like Jesus like it says in the book. I'd try to be like you too Katherine, but I got to have that red meat. and deep fried at that. Chicken fried steak, fried chicken, even deep fried pork loin "fingers" and french fries is a staple around here. Used to have catfish and shrimp on that list but the corexit used in the Gulf changing up all the DNA in the sea took'em both off. Even all seafood is now banned from my diet, sincet the Japanese reactor run-away radiation is in the food chain of the fish in the Pacific...even in the Alaskan fish now too. Sad.
    Looking into this oil question of which I am proud to have had you to respond, I find that there are at least four different grades of safflour, and the one we use in the deep fat cooker is labeled "High Temperature". It supposedly won't smoke till somewhere in the 400 to 450 range (don't trust that) and the Peanut oil was origianlly used for cooking on submarines because it won't smoke till its in the just under 400 F range...I gotta look into the other ones, like the walnut oil. And, egads, you threw me a curve with the goose grease. Last time I heard of anybody using that stuff was in smearing it on some kid's chest trying to prevent coughing...and I think then it was in 30's editions of the Little Rascals.
    Again, thanks for the info and the update. Keep us posted.

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  • Vince
    2 years, 8 months ago - Reply - Link

    What about Grapeseed oil?

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  • Katherine
    2 years, 8 months ago - Reply - Link

    Oh, Goose Fat *swoon*
    It's beyond delicious, but probably not all that healthy.

    As for all that fried stuff, perhaps you can start by switching to beef rather than pork, then slowly work to reduce the beef and substitute poultry. It works, I swear!

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  • Pamela
    2 years, 8 months ago - Reply - Link

    I enjoy several programs from GCN - among them is the Bright Side Ben show with Nutritional Pharmacist Ben Fuchs. He recommended the correct fats and also a wonderful book by Dr. Udo Erasmus- Fats That Kill, Fats That Heal. So intriguing! Also Ben's 8 chapters of good nutrition has been a wonderful addition to my learning about healthier eating. You tube video - to view 8 chapters of good nutrition- these principles work! Cold processed whey protien has been another wonderful thing I learned about and has made a GIANT difference in my life, health, and wellbeing.
    Using very little oil that has been heated and making sure to have my unheated omega 3,6,9 blend oil (that I keep in the fridge) poured over my unsweetened greek yogurt along with my cold processed whey powder and some fruit and a few nuts makes a power packed breakfast full of protein, nutrients, and deliciousness. After eating that, I am not hungry till lunch or mid afternoon- unlike downing a pastry (tasty but nutritionally negative).
    Sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to share some resources with you. :)

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  • Pamela
    2 years, 8 months ago - Reply - Link

    I treasure both your show and your blog. Keep up the great work Katherine!

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  • Nita
    2 years, 5 months ago - Reply - Link

    I recently heard on the news that the TWO types of MEAT most Likely to make a person ill are: GROUND chicken & beef. These ground meats come from several sources. which may cause contamination of the large batches of ground meat.

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  • Nita
    2 years, 5 months ago - Reply - Link

    I was taking a dragon drug for cholesterol but they very often cause pain-even severe pain-in many parts of the body. I now take CVS brand niacin, 1000 mg twice a day with meals, with my doctor's approval. In 30days, my bad cholesterol went from 256 to 183. My unexplainable body pains disappeared. I eat little meat but eat fish & most shellfish. I save my egg consumption for when I really want eggs. Hope this helps someone. (My sister had such pain with statins that she bought a new bed which didn't help the pain but continuing the statn did!)

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  • Nita
    2 years, 5 months ago - Reply - Link

    I meant STATIN instead of DRAGON drugs. Using T9, I sometimes forget to double check the word T9 choses. Also my sister pains disappeared after she DISCONTINUED her statin drug to lower her cholesterol.

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