The Best Fats to Cook With

As discussed in Eat Meat & Stop Jogging, vegetable and seed oils (polyunsaturated fats) are very unstable and quickly oxidize when exposed to light, heat, or oxygen. Morphing them into free radicals, and increasing our risk of degenerative disease and early death.

Because of their highly reactive nature, we DEFINITELY want to avoid using polyunsaturated oils for cooking!

Throw that PAM in the garbage, and kick the Canola Oil to the curb!

The more ‘UNsaturated’ a fat is, the more reactive it is to oxidation, so for cooking we need to favor fats that are predominantly saturated.


**chart adapted from McCance & Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods.

Although monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocado oil) may be miles ahead of polyunsaturated fats, you’re still best reserving these oils for flavoring un-heated dishes (ex: salads). Unlike saturated fats, monounsatured oils still have a considerable number of un-paired electrons, which means they’re less resistant to oxidation and free radical damage.  Some argue that you can get away with olive and avocado oil for cooking at lower heats, as they both have a very high smoke point (400degrees +), but I don’t think it’s necessary when coconut oil and butter are an option.

In general, ‘saturated’ fats are solid at room temperature, BUT this doesn’t include hydrogenated vegetable oil – a.k.a. margarine!

Aside from being resistant to oxidation saturated fats provide the ‘essentials’ for optimal heart and brain health.  By replacing polyunsaturated cooking oils (canola, peanut, and corn) with healthy saturated fat sources, we transform dense LDL particles into the big fluffy variety, raise good (HDL) cholesterol, and lower our risk of heart disease.

As long as your following Principle #1 from Live It NOT Diet! (restricting your carb intake), there’s no reason to be shy with these fats either. Since research from 2005 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition taught us:

The greater the intake of saturated fat, the lower the risk of heart disease!

Also known as The American Paradox.

Stay Lean!

Coach Mike