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Fats made easy

Fette leicht gemacht

Our acceptance of dietary fats has evolved significantly. Just a few years ago, athletes, bodybuilders and health freaks put aside all their differences and agreed that every grubby member of the oily "9 kcal per gram" gang should be hung from the highest tree in the sunset.

Fortunately, times have changed. Health authorities now accept that monounsaturated fats can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and that the essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6) are needed for survival. Even the once demonized saturated fats are now classified as "not so bad after all", as they are considered necessary for proper cell membrane function, among other things.

However, it's not all about health and wellness. According to Dr. Lonnie Lowery, a low-fat diet can lead to a 10 to 15% drop in serum testosterone levels and increase levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which binds testosterone and renders it useless. So not only is less testosterone produced, but the testosterone that remains is also bound.

That's why an extra tablespoon or two of oil is a good little testosterone booster, especially if you eat little fatty meat or seafood, or swell up like a puffer fish when you even see eggs or nuts.

The problem is that certain fats are better for cooking, while others are better for salads or other toppings. Still others contain additional nutrients that make them a nutritional powerhouse.

So let's look at which oils you should use and why. I'm going to give each of these fats a rating from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best. But first, I want to look at the factors I used to rate these oils.

Rating criteria

Usefulness for cooking and frying

The more saturated a fat is, the less likely it is to go rancid during cooking

Rancid in this context means that the fat chemically breaks down in its structure due to oxidation - and consumption of these fats is the reason why we are seeing increasing rates of heart disease and arteriosclerosis. To avoid eating rancid fats, you should cook with oils that are higher in saturated fats.

The table below gives an overview of the percentages of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in different oils, which should make it easier for you to choose a good oil for cooking. For example, coconut oil would be a good choice for cooking as it consists of 91% saturated fats, whereas safflower oil should not be used for cooking as it consists of 75% polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Do not allow oils to reach their "smoke point" when cooking

The "smoke point" is the temperature at which an oil begins to change chemically rapidly. The oil may turn a darker color, become thicker or even start to stink. Obviously, a higher "smoke point" is better for cooking purposes, but instead of breaking out the old thermometer, just use a more stable oil for cooking.

Usefulness as a topping

When I say "topping", I mean using it as an ingredient in a shake, as a salad dressing or simply as a fatty acid shot to drink. You can even use the shot glass with a gold rim that you took with you last week.

As you shouldn't cook with oils that are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids due to their fragile state and high susceptibility to oxidation, this is the perfect way to get your EFAs (essential fatty acids) - especially if you're not a fan of fatty fish like wild salmon. This is also a great way to get extra monounsaturated fats.

The ratio of fatty acids

Assess the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio

Nutritional authorities today advise a 3:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, which is dramatically different from the 20:1 ratio found in the typical Western diet. To achieve this target ratio, oils that are too high in omega 6 should be avoided as they promote a pro-inflammatory environment.

By the way, if you think that plaques in the arteries are mainly made up of saturated fats, here is an interesting fact for you: Over 50% of plaque in arteries is polyunsaturated, while only 20% is saturated.

Any additional nutrients?

This is where you need to look beyond polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated. Some oils contain high levels of natural antioxidants, while others contain virtually none of these healthy nutrients. Some boost the immune system and promote skin health, while others are pro-inflammatory and can lead to degenerative diseases.

Note: I am only referring to unrefined oils here. Do not use refined oils as they undergo commercial processes such as bleaching and deodorization that strip them of nutrients and reduce the omega-3 concentration. The table below only refers to unrefined oils - the use of refined oils should not even be considered!

The top 6 oils

Without further ado, here are my top 6 oils including their rating

1. red palm oil

Rating: ****

Most experts say you should avoid this oil, but I couldn't disagree more. The oil has a unique reddish orange color that comes from the fact that this oil is overloaded with carotenoids including alpha-carotene, which protects against cancer even better than beta-carotene. To put this into perspective, palm oil contains 300 times more carotenoids than tomatoes! Interestingly, unlike vitamin A levels, the levels of carotenes, which are precursors of vitamin A, cannot rise to unhealthy levels in the body.

But it doesn't stop there. The vitamin E contained in red palm oil contains all the tocopherols and tocotrienols. According to recent studies, tocotrienols are very powerful antioxidants that may even prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation. I like to add a tablespoon or two of this oil to my eggs in the morning.

2. coconut oil

Rating: ****

Coconut oil is another commonly misunderstood oil. Early studies concluded that this oil increases blood triglyceride levels, but failed to mention that these studies used hydrogenated or refined versions of coconut oil.

Unrefined coconut oil consists almost entirely of saturated fat and much of this fat consists of medium-chain triglycerides - MCTs for short - which are converted into readily available energy in the liver. Interestingly, farmers in the US used coconut oil as animal feed in the 1940s because they thought that all that saturated fat would help their cows gain weight quickly. However, this did not work. The cows were all active and lean and won the "best definition" title in the heavyweight class at the Mr. Olympia competition that year. Unsurprisingly, this idea went down in history as a failure.

What I like most about coconut oil is its lauric acid content. This fat, typically only found in breast milk, boosts the immune system and is one of the reasons breastfeeding is so healthy for children. There is a large amount of research showing that lauric acid is also an antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial substance.

3. macadamia oil

Evaluation: ****

This oil is a real powerhouse. It contains more monounsaturated fatty acids than olive oil (85%) and a higher percentage of oleic acid. This is important because this specific fatty acid helps to integrate omega 3 fatty acids into the cell membrane. Experts Mary Enig and Fred Pascatore have documented how these fats reduce the need for EFAs. Last but not least, macadamia oil is a very stable oil to cook with and can withstand high temperatures.

4. extra virgin olive oil

Rating: ***

Olive oil is everyone's favorite - and with good reason. There are mountains of scientific research showing that extra virgin olive oil increases levels of "good" HDL cholesterol due to its high amounts of oleic acid. Extra virgin olive oil is my favorite oil for salads, but you can also drink it straight or add it to your shakes. You can cook with olive oil on low heat, although it is not as stable as oils with more saturated fatty acids and also not as stable as other monounsaturated fats such as macadamia oil.

5. hemp seed oil

Rating: **

This oil has the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids (57% omega 6 and 19% omega 3) and even contains GLA. However, you should not use this oil for cooking, but feel free to add it to shakes or salads.

6. walnut oil

Rating: *

This oil is excellent for preparing salads. It contains 59% omega 6 fatty acids and 16% omega 3 fatty acids and is therefore not far from the ideal ratio. Unfortunately, it has a very low smoke point, so you should not use it for cooking.

Honorable mention

Avocado oil

This oil has an extremely high smoke point of 272 degrees and is overloaded with monounsaturated fatty acids (70%). It does, however, taste a bit acquired, as even avocado fetishists will attest.

The junky eight

These oils were not allowed to participate due to their terrible omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Avoid these oils!


Omega 6 to 3 ratio


Omega 6 to 3 ratio

Safflower oil

78 : 1

Peanut oil

34 : 1

Sunflower oil

69 : 1

Pistachio oil

31 : 1

Corn oil

59 : 1

Pumpkin seed oil

20 : 1

Sesame oil

45 : 1

Soybean oil

11 : 1

The Frankenstein Trio

These popular oils were chased out of town with pitchforks and torches by angry citizens for their Frankenstein-like genetic manipulations

  • High oleic safflower oil
  • High oleic acid sunflower oil
  • Rapeseed oil

The raw facts (all values refer to unrefined oils)


Monounsaturated %

Polyunsaturated %

Saturated %

Smoke point

Avocado oil





Almond oil





Rapeseed oil





Coconut oil





Extra virgin olive oil





Linseed oil





Grape seed oil





Macadamia oil





Peanut oil





Hemp seed oil





Red palm oil





Rice bran oil





Safflower oil





Sesame oil





Sunflower oil





Walnut oil





Note: The smoke point may vary depending on the origin.


We all have our favorite foods, but you shouldn't be afraid to try some new healthy things from this list when eating clean and healthy. Just like with other foods in your diet, a little variety in your fatty acids will give you a broader spectrum of nutrients - so don't just stick to one oil.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that you learned a thing or two!

By: John Meadows


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