Q. What oil would you recommend for cooking? I just read that safflower oil is high in linoleic acid and could increase the risk for heart disease.
Olive oil is great for salads and some cooking, but not for everything. I’ve been using canola oil when I don’t use olive oil. Is that the best choice?
Is there an oil that would not be high in omega-6 fats? I am still confused.

A. For decades, nutrition experts have been recommending oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as safflower or corn oil. PUFAs lower cholesterol and were assumed to prevent heart attacks.
A new analysis of old data shows that we should not rely too heavily on vegetable oils high in linoleic acid. That’s because of the Sydney Diet Heart Study. In this randomized trial, men eating safflower oil instead of butter and other saturated fat had higher rates of death from cardiovascular causes (BMJ, online, Feb. 5, 2013). Breakdown products of linoleic acid may be oxidized into compounds that clog coronary arteries.
Olive oil is rich in the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, and the recent study on the Mediterranean diet certainly supports its use. Participants had to consume at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil daily. For high-heat cooking such as stir-frying, we sometimes use peanut oil or grapeseed oil, even though they have more linoleic acid than we would want for everyday use. For baking, we like to use walnut oil, which is rich in omega-3 fats but rather pricey.
Other options include rice bran oil or cold-pressed organic canola oil. According to Mary Enig, PhD, author of Know Your Fats, the best approach is to “use a mixture of natural fats in moderation.”

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  1. HJL

    Grapeseed oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Many think this is bad and leads to inflammation. It is also high in Omega 6’s which is generally out of balance in our diets.

  2. SP

    I have been using grapeseed oil for higher temperature frying ever since it was recommended in a cooking school class. It is lighter than olive oil in flavor and has a great many health benefits. It doesn’t have the disadvantage of making food taste like suntan lotion.

  3. emv

    to get lard, visit your local meat plant and ask them to save you a bunch of hog fat, then render it yourself. go to your search engine to find out how to render the fat.

  4. fbl

    MJB, I appreciate your sentiments but one could say the same thing about the farming that ruined the plains for the buffalo here in our country. What is done is done. Think of all the virgin prairies now planted in soy beans and corn!
    Those palm plantations are giving workers jobs. The best thing one can do is support organizations that help set aside good habitat for the indigenous fauna and flora. Support companies that raise these tropical products with the least harm to the environment.

  5. MJB

    To all who have mentioned PALM OIL as a good cooking oil, please remember that this oil comes from palm oil plantations, planted in Sumatra, Borneo and other Indonesian islands. These palm oil plantations were established by burning down native rainforest, home to Orangutans, Sumatran tigers and other very endangered animals. Palm oil plantations are the greatest threats to these endangered, and in some cases near extinction, native animals in these islands. We should think again before we participate in destroying habitat for endangered native species.

  6. camille phillips

    What are natural oils for cooking, eating?

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