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Not all Healthy Oils are Created Equal

When using oils, most of us have been taught to use those that are healthiest…Olive Oil, Canola Oil and those that contain  monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  This, obviously, is very important.  But, the way the oil is extracted is also important to our health.

Have you ever had olive oil that was really flavorful and tasty…and then, had olive oil somewhere else that seemed light and especially bland?  Beyond the fact that there is a difference between “Extra-Virgin Olive Oil” (EVOO) and plain olive oil, (EVOO  is more pure than ordinary olive oil) there is another reason for that.   Just as we should avoid foods that are highly processed or refined, it is best to avoid oils that are as well.   Many oils are extracted from seeds, nuts, plants and vegetables by using a heating process or a chemical process, using the chemical hexane.  Heat can degrade the flavor, change the nutritional value and affect the color of oils.   While hexane, a petrochemical also used as a paint diluent and solvent may be dangerous to our health.  Is a matter of fact, the EPA declared hexane a Hazardous Air Pollutant in 1993, as a result of the fact that it can lead to serious health complications if inhaled.

As a result, it is best to look for oils that are unrefined.  They are richer in nutrients, and are more robust and true to their natural flavors.

  • Expeller Pressed Oil: Expeller pressed oil is a process that extracts oil from nuts or seeds by crushing them.  Depending on the hardness of the seed or nut, various temperatures are required (the harder the nut, the higher the pressure, which directly causes higher temperatures during processing).  However, no external heat is applied.
  • Cold Expeller Pressed Oil: As its name implies, CEPO uses a chemical-free process to extract oils from nuts or seeds by crushing them at very low heat…no higher than 120° Fahrenheit.

Unfortunately, some manufacturers trick their consumers by first using one of the above processes and then using hexane AFTER the expeller pressing process.  When you shop for oils, purchase those that are unrefined, cold-expeller pressed to ensure you are getting the highest quality oil.  Natural and Health Food Stores may even carry oils that have a “No Hexane” label on their product, as they know that consumers are becoming more aware.

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Eco-Living, Nutrition Tagged with: , , , ,
  • This article taught me a lot and I appreciate that. Thank you for the good information you offer your readers.

    • Brett

      Thanks Candace

  • this information was very helpful, on the other hand could use more about olive oil as I use it a lot and love the taste, but which one to buy at an economic level?

  • bcgillette

    What is the best oil to cook popcorn in? I know hot air is best, but if I still want to enjoy popcorn cooked in a pan with oil, what oil should I use?

  • Ken K

    The only oil I’ve found that satisfies the requirement of being cold pressed and up to now took a lot of research on my part was avocado oil, and I buy Olivado brand. It is tough to find it in stores, but you can find it online. It is expensive, there’s no doubt of that, but use it judiciously and you’ll get great results. I’m stumped, however, why even this author just doesn’t come out and tell you this information, they just tell you there is something better and just leave it to you to figure it out.

    • Brett

      Ken K. The article is meant to talk about all types of oil and how certain processes are better than others…regardless of the type that they buy. Avocado is great for you, however, I have not heard of the brand you mentioned. Thanks for the tip!

  • Allen Z

    Answering bcgillette; the best oil I found for popping popcorn is a medium or high Olec Sunflower oil. High Olec Sunflower Oil is rather hard to find if at all but the Medium Olec can be found in gallon bottles from some local popcorn supply houses. It’s usually flavored and colored for popcorn.

    For regular cooking you generally can find the Sunflower oil in gallon jugs at some Middle Eastern or India food stores. That also makes good popcorn without the flavoring or color.

    Mainstream grocery markets may only sell 32oz and smaller at high prices. Opt for the gallons.