Dr. Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman

The cooking oil issue

olive oil with olives

When I wrote earlier this week about the dangers of saturated fat, I said that one of the arguments of people that say saturated fat is good for you is that polyunsaturated oils are really bad for you, and that I agree with that statement. That raises the question: what cooking oil should you use? In the coming series I will discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of various cooking oils.

Should you use oil at all?

Oil is a refined food. It is rubbed from most of its original nutrients and protection against rancidity. It is not something that is good for you, and you should use it in limited amounts. It is perfectly possible to cook without oil, and it is perfectly possible to get all your essential fatty acids from whole foods, like nuts, seeds, avocado's and greens. That said, populations from all over the world have used oils for ages. Some food does taste much better with even a little oil. I do not think that oil in small amounts is harmful if you are not overweight or suffering from a serious disease and if you are using the right oils, the right way.

Different kinds of oils

There are three kinds of oils: saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. Saturated oils are solid at room temperature, mono-unsaturated oils are fluid at room temperature, but solid in the refrigerator, poly-unsaturated oils are fluid at room temperature and in the refrigerator. That sounds easy enough, but all oils contain a mixture of saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. Below you will find a table with the saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acid contents of various oils, as well as their vitamin E content.

Next week, I will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the most popular cooking oils. I will also discuss how to use and store oils.

Fatty acid composition of various oils


This table is sorted by mono-unsaturated fatty acid content. To sort on another header, just click that header

Oilsaturatedmono-unsaturatedpoly-unsaturatedvitamin e
Sunflower oil (oleic)1084441
Hazelnut oil7781047
Safflower oil (oleic)6751434
Olive oil14731114
Avocado oil127113
Almond oil8701739
Apricot kernel oil660294
Mustard oil125921
Canola oil7593017
Goose fat2857113
Herring oil215716
Teaseed oil2152230
Duck fat3349133
Cod liver oil234723
Peanut oil17463216
Chicken fat3045213
Sheanut oil474450
Turkey fat2943233
Beef tallow fat504243
Mutton Tallow474183
Sesame oil1440421
Rice bran oil20393532
Palm oil4937916
Oat oil20354114
Sardine oil303432
Cocoa butter603332
Salmon oil202940
Corn oil 13285514
Menhaden oil302734
Soybean oil1423589
Tomatoseed oil2023534
Walnut oil923630
Flaxseed oil9206618
Poppyseed oil14206211
Sunflower oil10206641
Cottonseed oil26185235
Grapeseed oil10167029
Wheat germ oil191562149
Safflower oil6147534
Palm kernel oil821124
Babassu oil8111219
Coconut oil87620
Nutmeg butter90500

At first I planned to only list the most popular oils, like olive, safflower and canola, but I was fascinated by all the different oils. I had never heard of Babassu oil and wondered how anybody had ever thought of making oil from tomato seeds, so I decided to let them in.

September 15, 2006