Why we should avoid cooking with olive oil!

Why we should avoid olive and cook with butter

Avoid cooking with unsaturated fats like olive, canola and grapeseed oil

You’ve probably heard that you should fry with grapeseed oil and sauté with olive oil because they have the highest smoke points, right? Well although those smoke points are correct, this has nothing to do with the actual safety of cooking with these oils. You see, heating unsaturated fats like olive, canola and grapeseed damages their omega fatty acids by changing their molecular structure to a point where they become bad for our health.

Smoke point of various oils:

  • Ghee, 485F
  • Canola, 425F
  • Grapeseed, 425F
  • Coconut, 350F
  • Butter, 350F
  • Olive, 325F
  • Flax, 225F
Choose coconut oil and butter for cooking

Saturated fats like coconut oil and butter are best for cooking

For those who have been following my story, I have gone back to school to study holistic nutrition at the Institute for Holistic Nutrition. After finishing my biochemistry final yesterday, our biochem professor gave us a lecture on cooking oils. Here is what we learned.

Choose saturated fats for cooking, not unsaturated:

In order to understand which fats or oils to cook with, you need to look at their molecular structure and whether or not they contain double bonds. I will spare you from this biochemistry and give you the answer.

Saturated fats contain no double bonds so are not sensitive to heat, light or oxygen and are less likely to create free radicals when heated. Thus, coconut oil and butter are the best fats to cook with. This said, you should still not be frying with them because that is just wrong from a health perspective. I’m saying that they are the most resistant to the heat needed to cook food. Fried food is not food, period!

Unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) are very sensitive to heat, light and oxygen so heating them up will change their molecular structure and thus turn them into free radicals which damage our cells. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil only contain one double bond so are a little more resistant to heat than polyunsaturated fats like canola, grapeseed and sesame, but they should still be avoided for cooking. They should only be used to top a dish afterwards or create a vinaigrette.

What about social situations?

Does this mean you will die if you eat a meal cooked with olive oil at your friend’s house or a restaurant? No. But I am saying that you want to limit free radical damage to your body which leads to degenerative disease and cancer over time, so lessening your exposure to them is a good idea.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature

Coconut oil is sold at room temperature and great for cooking

What if I’m lactose intolerant or vegan?

You can also cook with ghee which is clarified butter and has had all the milk products removed. I believe this is ok for lactose intolerant people. As for vegans or strict vegetarians, it looks like coconut oil is the only option.  I’ve heard it’s great for Asian dishes but you can still use it for Mediterranean type dishes with onions and garlic.

But isn’t butter bad for you and what if I have high cholesterol?

Cooking with an oil that is not meant to be heated is worse and potentially carcinogenic (causes cancer) because of the free radical damage it will do to your body. You need a fat that can withstand heat and not change chemically when it is heated.

As for cholesterol, contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that high cholesterol is caused by diet, it is caused by free radical damage to the cells in the body so cooking with butter will not raise it. That said, you should still not be eating foods like red meat and pork, but not because of the cholesterol they contain, because they are hard on the body and generally contain a lot of toxins and preservatives.

If you want to reduce free radical damage in your body, limit your exposure to them and eat more unprocessed, organic fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants and attack free radicals.

12 thoughts on “Why we should avoid cooking with olive oil!

  1. Good question Peter. Both these oils are unsaturated; safflower being polyunsaturated and sunflower being both a mono and polyunsaturated oil which means they are also very sensitive to heat. They are still good oils to use in salads but not for cooking. Also, a good tip for buying oils is to buy them in a dark, opaque glass bottle which protects them from light and to look for the words “organic, cold-pressed, unrefined”. Hope that helps.

  2. In your blog titled: “Why we should avoid cooking with olive oil!” you make no mention of Peanut Oil. Which category would that oil fall into? Would Peanut Oil damage the heart? Would it release free radicals? Does it exhibit more negatives than positives? What’s the scoop on Peanut Oil?

  3. Hi. All dairy products made using milk processed by large corporate commercial dairies, are made from homogenized milk. Since the 1950s, the first step in processing milk is homogenization. Then the fat is separated from the milk and used for butter, ice cream, cheese, and added back to non-fat milk or cream. Ask your professors, “why doesn’t cream float to the top?” You will learn, the fat micelles are physically sheared into fragments so small they stay suspended in water. They are, be definition, free radicals. They pass directly through the intestinal wall and cause lesions in the heart and arteries, leading to heart disease and high blood pressure, as the body secretes cholesterol and other lipids forming plaque in order to try to protect the circulatory system from the onslaught of the unnatural fat particles. This problem is often overlooked by well-meaning folks such as you, who study holistic nutrition. My guess is that homogenization may have killed tens or hundreds of millions of people over the last half century. So, avoid butter from large commercial dairies. Please look into this and let me know what you find. Thanks.

  4. Good question Alec. I think most holistic nutritionists agree that homogenization and pasteurization are bad for people who want to consume dairy. I’m not aware of the oxygenation or free radical process caused from butter that has been homogenized but I’ll look into it. As for the type of butter to buy, I would only, ever, buy organic. I am not pro-dairy to begin with for many reasons so if I am going to buy butter, it would have to be from a smaller dairy (if possible) but at least organic especially since the pesticide residues accumulate in the fat.

  5. Hi Alex – I have talked with my prof and was told that the determining factor in whether something becomes a free radical is the time of exposure to the light, heat or oxygen. In the case of homogenization, there is some exposure to oxygen but we are talking fractions of seconds so it is not enough to make butter become a free radical. More free radicals will come from cooking with unsaturated fats than with butter. If you are unconvinced, you can always choose to cook with coconut oil instead. Hope I answered your question.

  6. Hi Brab,

    Peanut oil should also be avoided because it is an unsaturated fatty acid. The molecular structure will change once heated and become a free radical. On another note, I would avoid peanuts all together. They contain aflatoxins (the most carcinogenic of all toxins) because of their tendency to grow mold on the nut and the shell. They are also planted beside mainstream crops to “soak up” the pesticides/herbicides sprayed on those crops. There are so many reasons to avoid them. Hope this helps.

  7. Hi Green Girl,
    Homogenization is a process that physically shears milk fat molecules into tiny fragments (radicals), which have been freed from the original, large molecule, and are chemically reactive; but perhaps “free radical” is not the best term. Here are a few interesting articles on homogenization.
    I have been told by a large commercial dairy that all milk products, such as butter, cheese, and ice cream, are made from homogenized milk. I wonder if the same holds true for “organic” milk products.

  8. Is this based on research? Can you back these claims with hard data? I find this interesting but would like to know your sources if you have any. Thanks!

  9. Hi James – This is definitely based on research and there’s a lot to support it. It’s basic bio chemistry; understanding the molecules that makes up these oils and how they react when you add heat, light or oxygen to them. If you’d like to read up about it, I’d suggest the book “The fats that heal, the fats that kill” by Udo Erasmus, PhD. He is the world leading authority on fats. If you go to this page on his website, scroll down to the section “What are bad (toxic) fats”: http://www.udoerasmus.com/FAQ/FAQ1_en.htm

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