The True Shelf Life of Cooking Oils

The True Shelf Life of Cooking Oils
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Cooking oil manufacturer “best-by” dates are put to the test by comparing the development of rancidity between almond oil, avocado oil, hazelnut oil, macadamia oil, grapeseed oil, rice bran oil, toasted sesame oil, and walnut oil.

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When you look at a bottle of oil in the grocery store, there’s a “best-before” date, advising consumers how long they have to consume it before it starts going rancid, and builds up oxidation products that can be particularly harmful to human health.

Here are the best-before dates for eight culinary oils: almond oil, avocado oil, hazelnut, macadamia, grapeseed, rice bran, toasted sesame, and walnut oil. These are the best-before dates in numbers of months, counting from the day the oil is made.

So, if you made a batch of walnut oil on January 1, 2012, the best-before date printed on the bottle from that batch would be 12 months later—January 1, 2013. Now, this is making some pretty strict assumptions. This is assuming you are keeping the oil in the refrigerator in a airtight, dark container, so it’s not exposed to air, room temperature, or light—particularly after it’s opened.

Now, these scientists were skeptical that the companies were printing accurate dates. And so, they put all the oils to the test to find out what the true expiration dates were. Would it match what the companies say? Would the companies put a longer duration, trying to make the oil appear more stable than it really is? Or, would they put a shorter duration, trying to encourage people to buy their product more frequently?

For rice bran oil, the company said seven months. And actual estimated shelf life found in the tests? 6.5 months. Not bad, pretty close. In some cases, though, the truth was stretched one way; in others, it was stretched the other way. Look at almond oil. They said it would last over a year, and it really only stayed good for three months. And remember, that’s three months in the fridge, in the dark—and after production, not after when you buy it.

Macadamia and walnut oil were the real outliers, though. Mac oil lasted longest; over a year. The company totally undersold its stability. But for walnut oil, they said a year, and it only lasted about two and a half weeks—according to rancidity testing with the “Rancimat.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to @kevinv033 via flickr

When you look at a bottle of oil in the grocery store, there’s a “best-before” date, advising consumers how long they have to consume it before it starts going rancid, and builds up oxidation products that can be particularly harmful to human health.

Here are the best-before dates for eight culinary oils: almond oil, avocado oil, hazelnut, macadamia, grapeseed, rice bran, toasted sesame, and walnut oil. These are the best-before dates in numbers of months, counting from the day the oil is made.

So, if you made a batch of walnut oil on January 1, 2012, the best-before date printed on the bottle from that batch would be 12 months later—January 1, 2013. Now, this is making some pretty strict assumptions. This is assuming you are keeping the oil in the refrigerator in a airtight, dark container, so it’s not exposed to air, room temperature, or light—particularly after it’s opened.

Now, these scientists were skeptical that the companies were printing accurate dates. And so, they put all the oils to the test to find out what the true expiration dates were. Would it match what the companies say? Would the companies put a longer duration, trying to make the oil appear more stable than it really is? Or, would they put a shorter duration, trying to encourage people to buy their product more frequently?

For rice bran oil, the company said seven months. And actual estimated shelf life found in the tests? 6.5 months. Not bad, pretty close. In some cases, though, the truth was stretched one way; in others, it was stretched the other way. Look at almond oil. They said it would last over a year, and it really only stayed good for three months. And remember, that’s three months in the fridge, in the dark—and after production, not after when you buy it.

Macadamia and walnut oil were the real outliers, though. Mac oil lasted longest; over a year. The company totally undersold its stability. But for walnut oil, they said a year, and it only lasted about two and a half weeks—according to rancidity testing with the “Rancimat.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to @kevinv033 via flickr

Doctor's Note

What’s the best way to consume walnut oil? In the walnut itself! See Deep-Frying Toxins. But which type of walnuts are best? Find out in Black Versus English Walnuts. Also, see What Women Should Eat to Live Longer. Plus, I have many other videos on nuts

For more context, check out my associated blog post, The True Shelf Life of Cooking Oils.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

75 responses to “The True Shelf Life of Cooking Oils

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  1. What’s the best way to consume walnut oil? In the walnut itself! (see for example, my video on toxins created by deep frying). But which type of walnuts are the best? Find out in tomorrow’s video-of-the-day Black Versus English Walnuts. My latest video on the wonders of nuts was What Women Should Eat to Live Longer, though I have a few dozen other videos on the topic (not to mention a thousand other topics). If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.




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    1. Another argument to eat a whole foods plant based diet with as little added oils as possible. Oils are highly processed. You can easily get your fats from nuts, seeds, avocados etc.




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    2. What about coconut oil? How does it compare? The health conscious use coconut oil. Diabetics can use it without fear because it balances blood sugar.  It aids uptake of magnesium and calcium, improving dental and bone health.  It helps you loose weight.  It is a good kind of saturated fat that does not contribute to heart disease.  And in my experience, is stable for a year while sitting out on the counter.  Although I do not cook with oils, I understand that coconut oil degrade the least of all vegetable oils when heated. All other oils I only consume as part of the food it comes in.  Flax seed, hemp seed, walnuts, etc.




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      1. AlanRoy,
        In response to “Diabetics can use it without fear because it balances blood sugar.”  Doesn’t follow what I see in my daily practice nor what is well published in the literature. 

         I have had many diabetics turn to Vegan diets and their Diabetes becomes worse.  Then I find out they added coconut oil and Avocados as well) because it’s “good” and their blood glucose goes through the roof!  Remove it and BG goes down. 

        Almost all fats (except Omega 3) appear to cause insulin resistance which has been well documented in the research, so I like to say that there is no such thing as a Good or Bad fat, ONLY essential.  And the only essential fats we need are Omega 3 and 6.  We can synthesize all the other fats.  And how much do we need? About only one half a walnut a day supplies us with all the Omega 3+6 fat we need.

        Regarding Coconut oil here is a recent article showing its detrimental effects on insulin resistance, weight gain and atherosclerosis from Pub Med: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20832799.

        If I had more time I would get more of the research regarding Diabetes but here is a nice resource from PCRM: http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/diabetes/DiabetesLitSearchRecentandClassicArticlesontheEffect.pdf

        Please also remember, The Fat You Eat is the Fat You Wear!  So if you want to look like a coconut (nice and round –and hairy?) go ahead and eat one.
        :-}




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        1. I think it was Michael Klaper M.D. who said: When the pathologist examines the arteriosclerotic plaque (that killed the patient) the answer always come back: Saturated fat and cholesterol, NEVER residues from broccoli and tofu…..




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        2. HemoDynamic,

          Have you found any smoking gun proof (in human studies, of course) to support elimination of all non-essential fats (including those of nuts and seeds)?

          Based on my read through Brenda Davis’ book ‘Becoming Raw’, I was of the impression that there are two vegan schools of thought on the fat issue – one school supports very low fat veganism and the other school supports consumption of a diet rich in monunsaturated and polyunsaturated sources (up to 30%) of calories, which is analogous to the Mediterranean pattern of eating. Based on the videos presented on this website, doesn’t it seem like Dr. Greger is supporting the latter school of thought? 

          My impression was that the fat issue was unsettled, which is why I was surprised by your suggestion that we should eat half a walnut per day.




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          1.  BPCveg: I don’t know about Dr. Greger supporting up to 30% of fat calories.  From my interpretation of the videos and blogs, Dr. Greger seems to strongly support seed and nut consumption, but in relatively small amounts. 

            For example, in the Uprooting Leading Causes of Death vidoe, Dr. Greger talks about longevity benefits from 2 handfuls of nuts a week.  A week.  A day, that would be like, what, less than quarter cup a day?  And I seem to remember another video or blog talking about the benefits of even a half walnut a day. 

            Dr. Greger’s latest nutrition recommendations are to include a variety of seeds and nuts in one’s diet, but he doesn’t say how much.

            It seems to me that the “no fats” and the “30% fats” proponents are two ends of the spectrum.  What about a healthy middle?

            Just some thoughts.  I’m not necessarily arguing against anything you said.  I’m just participating in the discussion. 

            I know that there are more videos about nuts in Volume 10.  Perhaps we will learn more about nuts then.




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            1. Thea: Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

              Just to clarify why I think Dr. Greger is supporting the higher fat end of the spectrum, I have watched every video on this website and do not recall him ever stating an upper limit on fat. If I missed the point where he states a guideline, please let me know !?!

              In fact, in one video he supports a handful of nuts a day to cut heart attack risks in half (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/halving-heart-attack-risk/)

              In another video, he endorses the eco-Atkins diet (which is greater than 30% of calories from fat), http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-atkins-diet/ 




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            2. Thea:

              Having watched all of the videos on this website, I agree with you that Dr. Greger hasn’t been very clear on the optimal percentage of calories from fat to consume.

              He has, however, stated that a handful of nuts per day can cut heart disease risk in half: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/halving-heart-attack-risk/

              Also, he was very positive about reduced mortality with the high-fat plant-based Atkins diet (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-atkins-diet/). In this study, which is freely available at (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=415074), the diets compared were low-fat vegetarian diet (58% carbohydrates, 16% protein, and 25% fat) versus the low-carbohydrate vegetarian diet (26% carbohydrates, 31% protein, and 43% fat).  According to the authors of the study [see Comment, para1]:

              “In addition to weight loss, the consumption of a low-carbohydrate diet containing vegetable proteins and oils was associated with significantly reduced concentrations of LDL-C, not reported in the majority of low-carbohydrate diet studies in which the protein and fat are largely of animal origin. ” 

              I appreciate your comment and don’t claim to have all the answers. Though I find this topic confusing and hope that future videos will shed light.




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            3. Hi Thea,

              I think Dr. Greger hasn’t clearly stated what percentage of calories from fat to consume.

              In his video titled ‘Halving Heart Attack Risk’ on September 4th, 2010, Dr. Greger specifically states that a single handful of nuts per day can cut heart attack risk in half. But, he doesn’t go on to say, don’t eat more than that! In fact, he says ‘don’t ever not eat nuts’.

              In his video titled ‘Plant-Based Atkins Diet’ on February 2nd, 2012, Dr. Greger argued that a low-carbohydrate diet (which according to the study was 43% fat) reduced mortality substantially. In fact, the study also showed reduced LDL in this low carbohydrate diet.

              These are some of the main reasons I think that he is supporting the higher fat end of the spectrum.

              By the way, there are no links in this comment because when I added links it kept getting flagged for moderation and then didn’t publish.




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              1.  BPCveg: Thanks for taking the time to clarify your thoughts for me.

                It’s so interesting to me how different minds thing.  I look at that same info, at least for your first example, that you look at and come to a different conclusion.  :-O

                It is telling to me that Dr. Greger hasn’t chimed in on this question, and that his latest “Optimum Nutrition Recommendations” from Volume 10 do not specifically address this question.

                For me, the answer is: do at least the minimum amount of recommended nut/seed intake and then take more only if your calorie requirements allow.  But that’s just my take on it all.




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                1. Thea: I agree with you that there is definately some ambiguity on this topic, given what has been said on this website thus far. In the meantime, your suggested answer sounds very reasonable.

                  Thanks for the exchange of opinions. Hopefully we will get our answer soon.




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              2. I believe posts with links only get flagged if you’re not registed. This

                is to prevent spammers that aren’t registered from junking up the blog. So please register and link like crazy!




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            4. By the way, Brenda Davis, an experienced dietician who specializes in whole-foods vegan diets recommends 15-30% of calories from fat.

              The main arguments that she gives against the low-fat vegan diet are:


              Very low-fat diets may provide excessive bulk and insufficient calories,
              particularly for infants, children, and people with very high energy
              requirements, like athletes or labourers.
              Very low fat diets often contain inadequate amounts of essential fatty
              acids, especially the omega-3 fatty acids (discussed below).
              Insufficient fat can compromise absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E,
              and K), minerals (including iron, zinc, manganese, and calcium), and healthful
              phytochemicals (like the lycopene in tomato products). 
              People on very low fat diets often become “fat phobic.” They assume all high
              fat foods are bad and that all low fat foods are good. This often leads them to
              choose foods that are actually “nutritional washouts” (packaged fat-free
              cookies, cakes, and chips, for example) while obsessively avoiding higher-fat
              plant foods that are very nutritious, like avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and
              tofu.
              Very low fat diets can cause a drop in HDL-cholesterol (“good
              cholesterol”) and a rise in triglycerides (another potentially damaging blood
              fat, like LDL-cholesterol), actually increasing your risk for
              cardiovascular disease. However, this is not normally a problem unless you
              replace the fat with refined carbohydrates, like sugar and white flour
              products.”
               
              You can find the source document by searching on google “brenda davis winnipeg making sense of fat” –> leads to a ivu page.




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              1.  BPCveg:  I’m a big fan of Brenda Davis!  I heard her talk at at a conference a couple of years ago and she had a huge positive influence on my thinking that I could “do vegan” healthily and it wouldn’t be hard.  I read one of her books and thought it was most helpful.

                Thanks for sharing that info! 

                One thing that strikes me from that text is that, in my humble opinion, 15-30 is a wide range.  For me, 30% seems high and 15% seems “low-good”.  But that’s my intuition, not based on anything I can point to.

                I’ve never seen the point in a super-low fat diet when the fat comes from whole foods.  My concern is when people see 30% and assume that means that the fat can come from oils and they are eating healthy.  It seems to me that the discussion on fat always needs to be put into context for people – that healthy fats are those that come from whole plant foods (with some exceptions like coconut).  If everyone were on the same page on that one point, then the discussion of what percentage of our diet ideally comes from fat might become much less important or resolve itself differently.




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          2. BPCveg I think dr. hemo was referring to the study regarding the 1/2 walnut per day. “Who could eat just 1/2!”

            If I didn’t eat nuts and seeds I would have the hardest time maintaining my weight.




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            1. Good point GSH.

              By the way, as a vegan, I have found that adding more liquid calories to my diet (from soups and smoothies) also helps me from losing weight.




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          3. This is a complex question to answer but the short of it is, it depends on what you are trying to achieve.

            Remember, the fat you eat is the fat you wear so if you are trying to lose weight then minimizing fat intake with have the greatest impact on weight loss, since the body loves to store a ready-made package of fat.  It doesn’t have to convert it to anything it just stores it (this is somewhat simplistic but is basically what happens).

            So this is where the one half a walnut a day comes in.  One half a walnut weighs in at about 1.5 to 3 grams depending on size. There is 90 mg Omega 3 per 1 gram of walnut, so we are looking at 135 to 270 mg Omega 3 per half a walnut.  http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3138/2

            The general consensus for Omega 3 daily intake is about 250-500mg (Because of its alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content) http://www.goedomega3.com/health-care.html
            So a half a walnut a day, plus general daily food servings for a Plant Based eater, will more than give us our recommended daily allowance of Omega 3 and Omega 6, for the essential ALA and LA (Linoleic acid) content respectively.

            Interestingly, if you want more bang for your buck than have a Tsp of Flax:  One Tsp is 3 grams which is about 680mg of Omega 3 and 170 mg Omega 6, which is a much better ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 (4:1).  Walnuts are a 1:4 Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio, so not a favored nut/seed in my opinion–but I like to say One half a walnut because it gets my point across as to how little we actually need in our diet. 
            Also remember the more Omega 6 (LA) in your diet the more the conversion to ALA is inhibited, and the more LA the more inflammation (Arachidonic acid).
            Is more better? Maybe to a point but Moderation is a problem with someone suffering from Unstable angina, super-morbid obesity, or diabetes .  So again it depends on what one is trying to achieve.




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        3.  Thank you so much for the info on coconut oil. I generally only use it on my skin. I love coconut so I do tend to probably eat more than the average person (maybe I should cut back some). My dogs do get about a teaspoon of coconut oil in their food daily. Their coats all look great and they are very healthy. But dogs, like humans, can get heart problems. Hmm




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          1.  Kathi:  I have a dog who I used to feed some almond oil.  A few years ago, I switched to giving him ground flax seed mixed with water.  He LOVES it.  He slurps it down.  This way he is getting a whole food, but one that is high in healthier fats. 

            I don’t have a study to back up the concept of giving dogs flax seed.  But I did get the idea from a vet who works with vegan dogs.  And you are absolutely right that dogs can (and do) get heart disease.

            I just wanted to share.  Good luck with your dogs.




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            1.  Thanks Thea. I used to give my dogs ground flax and have sort of fallen off of that. Need to get back on it. Funny though, my holistic vet said that the dogs didn’t absorb flax oil the way we do. Maybe it comes from not giving them the whole seed. Off to grind up some flax and pumpkin seeds for them, and me.




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  2. Really the healthiest thing is ground nuts and seeds added to food. It makes modern recipes perhaps difficult but ah well. Not sure about ghee but I’d guess if it was made from animals that had a plant-based diet as they do in nature, it could be ok as many say.




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      1. And coconut oil is really being talked up too; so many “health” pages and websites say people should eat it every day…YIKES!! I use the extra virgin coconut oil on my skin as a wonderful moisturizer but I don’t eat it (yet).




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    1. More than 97% of canola is GMO. Also, canola is not a natural plant per se. Canola is a modified version of the rapeseed plant. In order to make more money, it was decided to reduce the level of toxic erucic acid present in rapeseed to make the oil supposedly fit for human consumption. Erucic acid has been known to cause heart lesions. Rapeseed oil is so toxic that the FDA banned it from human consumption in 1956. So, when the Canadian industry came up with a low erucic acid rapeseed oil, they decided to find a less negatively connoted name, thus forged the name canola from ‘can’ (canada) ‘ola’ (oil low acid). So it’s up to you if you want to feed yourself with a GMO oil that contains a low percentage of a powerful heart toxin known to cause death.




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      1. Annie Girard: GMO is easy to avoid, just get organic. And while no oils are health foods, canola has some good things going for it, like more omega 3s and low saturated fats than most vegetable oils. I’ve never heard of anyone getting any kind of erucic acid problem from consuming canola oil, so they must have done a good job of breeding it out of the plant. In summary, you are better off not having an oils, but if you must have one, canola (perhaps especially organic) is a relatively good choice.




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  3. When I use oil at all, I usually use almond oil.  So, this study is very sad for me.  I do keep it in the fridge.  I don’t use much oil at all.  Because I don’t use much oil, it lasts a *very* long time in my fridge – certainly longer than 3 months.  I figure it might even be 3 months in the light on the store shelf before the bottle makes it into my fridge… argh!

    Like the others, I am also interested in olive oil and some others just for comparison.  But this is really interesting data right here.  It says a lot.  Time to get some (probably outrageously expensive?) macadamia nut oil?  I wonder if I could even find it.

    The most oil I use is spray oil – just enough to keep something from sticking.  I wonder 1) should those cans be kept in the fridge?  2) is there any testing on the rancidity of those oils? – which do not see light. 3) how bad for one’s health would it really be to keep say the baking tofu from sticking to a pan using the spray oils even if they are (hopefully little) rancid?

    Just some questions that would be nice to answer at some point.




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    1. Along the same lines as Thea, I am wondering what oil should be used to season a cast iron pan or a steel pan? Some people recommend flax oil, claiming that the seasoning oil needs to oxidize to complete the seasoning process. Is that correct? If flax oil is used, and if it is oxidized on the pan, is there a risk that some of that oxidized oil would come off the pan and be encorporated into the food cooked in the pan? Please advise on the healthiest oil for seasoning cast iron pans and steel pans, especially where such pans will be used for high heat cooking. Thanks!




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  4. This latest information about oils helps adds to my thinking that refined products, whether oils or sugars, are harmful for us to consume. 
    The fragility of some of these oils is even greater than what I thought. It seems that once you remove the oil from its “package” all the other attributes of the food that would help preserve the oil part are lost. 
    Also, when we remove the oil for use we lose all the other attributes that make the food fitting for us to consume. 
    So the takeaway here is keep the oil in its “package” for the healthiest eating and to get the full benefit of the food. 




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  5. This posting brings up a potentially very important issue regarding health-promoting benefits of a plant based diet: How important is rancidity in considering the health promoting benefits of foodstuffs? This is the only video that comes up when searching the term ‘rancidity’. There is strong evidence that rancid foods and the free radicals present within are much more harmful to consume than nothing at all. Given that foodstuffs that have fatty acids can become rancid, some have argued that many of the foodstuffs we buy including whole grain containing foods, oils, nuts, seeds, seed butters, etc are rancid by the time they make it to our homes from the supermarket. I would love to see a more thorough analysis of the scientific literature regarding the harmful effects of buying and consuming these types of foodstuffs from the primary sources available to most of us, supermarkets and health food stores.




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  6. I understand that keeping the oil in the whole food itself is one of the best ways to prevent rancidity, but do you notice a trend here — the higher the ω−6, the quicker the oxidation, & the reverse being true for mono and sat fats? Hence the results for mac oil vs walnut…




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  7. Coacervate: I consulted 6 vets from across the country.  All said that dogs are omnivores and that a vegan kibble would be fine.  Since switching my dog from a meat kibble to a vegan kibble, his health has improved by several measures.  So, yes, it is not just ethical, but a very good idea.




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  8. We should all remember that oil is not a healthy food and that we should ALWAYS consume the whole food itself

    Dr. Vogel conducted a study that compared different fats and oils (olive
    oil, canola oil, and salmon) and how they impaired our endothelial
    cells. Our endothelial cells are within our blood vessels lining their
    walls. They keep clots from forming and keep our blood running smoothly.
    It also helps our blood vessels dilate and contract when needed. The
    participants of the study ate a meal containing 3.5 tablespoons of olive
    oil and the examiners measured their arterial damage after 3 hours.
    “Contrary to part of our hypothesis, our study found that omega-9 (oleic
    acid)-rich olive oil impairs endothelial function postprandially.” They
    also make note that “In terms of their postprandial effect on
    endothelial function, the beneficial components of the Mediterranean and
    Lyon Diet Heart Study diets appear to be antioxidant-rich foods,
    including vegetables [and] fruits”
    http://content.onlinejacc.org/cgi/content/full/36/5/1455

    It
    was even noted that “In a clinical study, olive oil was shown to
    activate coagulation factor VII to the same extent as does butter. Thus,
    olive oil does not have a clearly beneficial effect on vascular
    function.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9409274

    Another
    study looked at different oils (olive, soybean and palm oils). They had
    their patients eat a potato soup. The soup either had 3 tablespoons of
    each oil OR they fried the potatoes in the oil. They too examined the
    extent of damage on the volunteers’ arteries. this is what they found
    “All the vegetable oils, fresh and deep-fried, produced an increase in
    the triglyceride plasma levels in healthy subjects.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17174226

    This
    2 year study looked at coronary artery lesions of the heart after
    consuming different types of fat. Polyunsaturated fat (omega 3 type of
    fat) Monounsaturated fat (75% of which makes up olive oil) and Saturated
    fat (the kind found in mostly animal products). They looked at
    angiograms a year apart after intervening with increasing one type of
    fat in each group. All 3 fats were associated with a significant
    increase in new atherosclerosis lesions. Most importantly, the growth of
    these lesions did not stop when polyunsaturated fats and
    monounsaturated fats were substituted for saturated fats. Only by
    decreasing all fat intake including the polyunsaturated and
    monounsaturated fats did the lesions stop growing.
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/263/12/1646.abstract?sid=47d1d016-3c15-43f4-a013-0d10144ef8e3




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    1.  Toxins:  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      I’ve been trying to tell some friends that all “free oils” are bad for them.  They are big proponents of olive oil.  They didn’t like the Jeff Novik video I sent.  (personality conflict)  Dr. Greger’s one video that I could find on olive oil found it to be neutral.  (Though that was way back in volume 1.) 

      I think when I pass on your information, it will carry a lot of weight – because you are listing multiple scientific studies and because there is no personality to contend with.

      Thanks!!




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  9. I am wondering what oil should be used to season a cast iron pan or a steel pan? Some people recommend flax oil, claiming that the seasoning oil needs to oxidize to complete the seasoning process. Is that correct? If flax oil is used, and if it is oxidized on the pan, is there a risk that some of that oxidized oil would come off the pan and be encorporated into the food cooked in the pan? Please advise on the healthiest oil for seasoning cast iron pans and steel pans, especially where such pans will be used for high heat cooking. Thanks




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      1. I don’t think his voice is annoying at all. In fact, Dr. Greger’s delivery is superb — very cool and very entertaining!




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  10. You just saved me a fortune. I like buying things in bulk, but considering these new findings I clearly need to rethink my purchasing habits. Sad, you would think the FDA should be doing this type of research.




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    1. Dr. Robert F.: re: FDA research
      I agree so strongly! But I not only want the FDA doing the research, but following through with protections based on the results of the research. In other words: OK, so the FDA didn’t do this research, but now they (should) know the results. So, what are they doing about it? Argh!

      Story: Glad you got such a good benefit from this site. Alas for myself, I watched the video too late. Before this video came out, an oil company did a deal where you would get free cooking classes if you purchased 10 products or some dollar significant dollar amount. (I don’t remember the details now.) At the time, I was not as picky about oil use as I am now. So I bought something like 10 bottles of almond just so I could get the free cooking classes–thinking that it was a stable product that would last for years and I would end up using it all. (After all that, the company later reneged on the cooking class deal and sent me an unwelcome apron instead.)




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  11. I appreciate this is an older vid, however I having been enjoying lots of content here I thought I would comment.
    The table clearly states stored at 20deg C but your voice over reinforces a couple of times stored in the fridge. Which is it ?

    You happily declare before your speaches you read the data so we don’t have too… great but surely you have to be accurate in your reading. A bit of a dig, sorry. If I am wrong because I haven’t read further links well thats the super fast world of short attention span caused by meat eaters (but wanting to change) for you :)




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  12. How is it possible to cook then without adding a little oil? I try to keep my oil intake to a minimum but I could not figure out so far how I can cook without oil…




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    1. Mia: One of my favorite tricks for oil-free cooking is to use the microwave! Whether I need to saute some mushrooms, onions, carrots, bell peppers, etc, it can all be done in a microwave with no oil and no fuss. (Ie, you don’t have to stand around doing anything. You can press some buttons and walk away.)

      Other people like to do a water saute. I believe it requires a bit of technique to get down right – so that you have enough water to prevent food from sticking, but not so much that you are steaming or boiling the food. Lots of people do it though. So, I know it is possible.

      For me, the harder part is to leave the oil out of baking. Say you don’t want the brownies to stick to the pan. I can’t seem to get rid of “greasing the pan” in every instance. But I’ve had good success many times in using parchment paper in place of oil.

      I hope some of those tips are helpful. My 2 cents are: Even if you never fully cut out oil, if you can adopt an alternative technique here and there to keep cutting down on how much you consume so that the amounts you consume are super-trivial, that’s a great way to go.




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    2. sauté with mushrooms and onions, use that liquid that comes off. Or try Thea’s helpful tips with water. You could try vegetable broth? Good luck!




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  13. If the shelf life of walnut oil, even when protected from light, heat and air, is just two weeks after its press date, what about flaxseed oil, which is even more polyunsaturated? Now I’m wondering if Barlean’s flaxseed oil, which comes refrigerated in a dark bottle with a press date of just one to two months before purchase is rancid even by the time I buy it. Then, even though I keep it refrigerated, it takes me a few weeks just to use it up.




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    1. These tests were interesting makes you wonder about certain oils. Looks like they didn’t test flax, but I think you’re right because like walnut oil, flax oil is similar in polyunsaturated fats.




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    1. Edamis: No oil is healthy per say. Oil is the ultimate junk food. Oil is empty calories like sugar, but with even more calories packed into the same volume. For a great short explanation of this from a well respected RD Jeff Novick, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbALgjmZUek

      That said, there are a number of factors to consider before deciding whether or not you are going to make those recipes. What is the rest of your diet like? How much oil is really in those recipes? Are there good substitutes you could use? Or just use less oil?

      Here’s my personal approach to oil: Treat it like sugar. I know sugar is not healthy for me. That doesn’t stop me from eating it. I just know that I need to avoid sugar as much as possible. I don’t kid myself trying to find the healthiest form of sugar (read: oil). I just know to limit all forms. The good news about oil is that most of the time, there are easy substitutions. I’m not sure how easy of a substitution there would be for toasted sesame seed oil, because that oil is usually used for flavoring. But I wonder if you could use some toasted sesame seeds instead and skip the oil or use healthy oil substitutes? I saw a website the other day that talked about how to make oil-free dressings. Maybe something like that would work for you.

      Does that help?




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  14. Something I didn’t notice before. The slide that Dr. Greger posted on the shelf life of the various oils indicated that the tests were done at 20 degrees Celsius. But that’s 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is room temperature. Yet Dr. Greger says that the shelf life was measured while the oil was in a dark bottle in the refrigerator. But that’s not true. So one has to assume that the follow up tests were done in a similar manner, i.e., at 20 degrees Celsius (or 68 Fahrenheit). Is that’s true, then one has to assume that the shelf life would be longer when the oil is kept in the refrigerator. How much longer is anyone’s guess.




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  15. Useful video, as are all of Dr. Greger’s videos. Thank you!

    Would it be interesting to nutritionfacts.org fans/users to add a video on the best oils/fats to use in moderation for different purposes (dressings, baking whole breads, cooking), and impacts on health of heating them both before and after reaching their smoke points?

    Merci!




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    1. friendlyericn: I understand why you make this request. And I’m sure lots of people would agree with you and appreciate such video(s). I’m not an expert, but I’ll give my 2 dissenting cents on the topic anyway: NutritionFacts/Dr Greger recommends a whole plant food based diet, which naturally includes fat. But this site does not recommend oil as a health food. Here are Dr. Greger’s nutrition recommendations. http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/ Dr. Greger writes in his new book, How Not To Die, “I think of oil as the table sugar of the fat kingdom.” page 298

      Why does Dr. Greger say this? Are oils really out?!? Say it isn’t so! Here is how I put this into perspective. Jeff Novick has a GREAT talk called “From Oil to Nuts”. (I highly recommend it.) Part of that video is available free on youtube. The following clip compares olive oil to sugar.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbALgjmZUek

      Some points from the full talk (which are not included in the above clip):
      * most oils are going to have too much omega 6s to omega 3s
      * oils are the high calorie-dense, a big problem for people who need to lose weight
      * oils which tend to have a better omega 3 ratio (say flaxseed) go rancid very, very quickly. (In fact, Dr. Greger has at least one video on common oils and how quickly they go rancid. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-true-shelf-life-of-cooking-oils/ = eye opener! )
      * oils/high fat make your blood sluggish (I think that point was in the Jeff video)

      And now an especially key point (and which is part of the clip above):
      A) Sugar = junk food = empty calories. and
      B) Oil = junk food = even more empty calories (since oil is twice as calorie dense as sugar).

      This comparison of oil and sugar really helped me. While I understand that it is best to avoid sugar, that doesn’t mean that I never eat sugar. I just try to limit sugar as best I can. A person who occasionally eats some sugary treats or a sauce with a bit of sugar in it is probably going to be fine. I just don’t kid myself that sugar is healthy. Eating some sugar while understanding it’s potential impact is my personal decision. I take the same approach for oils. I don’t think a *tiny* amount of oil would really hurt me in the context of a truly healthy whole plant food based diet. But I don’t kid myself either that oils are healthy.

      Note that NutritionFacts has some good pages on olive and coconut oils. (Try: http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=olive+oil&fwp_content_type=video and http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=coconut+oil&fwp_content_type=video ) Both olive and coconut oils have some great marketing behind them. Many people believe those oils are healthy. If those oils are not healthy, then maybe we really don’t need any oil…

      My opinion is that there’s no point in doing a video on the healthiest oils. It would be like doing a video on the healthiest candy bar. Some candy bars are truly healthier than others. But that misses the point. Instead of talking about the healthiest oils, I think it is helpful to learn how to cook/eat without the oils:

      You don’t need oil to saute when you know how to water saute or use the microwave. You don’t need oil for salad dressings as there are tons of really great oil-free salad dressings. (Ex: http://tinyurl.com/zvxkt6t or http://tinyurl.com/hr5stk7 or http://tinyurl.com/jt2kmgp ) I also find that I can skip the oil in most recipes, either leaving out or replacing with a different liquid and those recipes still come out great. Personally, I try to limit oils to desserts since it is so easy to get rid of oil from main dishes.

      Keep in mind that nuts and seeds are whole plant foods which have lots of fat in them. Dr. Greger has a bunch of videos showing that nuts and seeds are health-promoting foods. (Especially check out videos on flax). Dr. Greger recommends about 1/4 cup nuts (or 2 T nut butter) and 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed a day, about what other respected nutrition experts recommend. This is not a large part of a diet, but still part of a healthy diet. The point is: There is a difference on how oils vs nuts impact your body.

      So, you could say add some whole nuts to your veggies instead of oil and get the best of all worlds: A little extra fat to absorb extra nutrients from veggies and yet be consuming wholesome health-promoting food. Who needs the oil? *My* opinion is: On the other hand, if you really truly are eating a diet made up of whole plant foods and you occasionally want to add a small amount of oil, that probably isn’t going to hurt. You just don’t want to kid yourself that because the oil is say olive oil, you are doing yourself a big favor.




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  16. Thanks for your idea friendlyericn. I’m a Registered Dietitian and volunteer moderator who helps answer questions for Dr. G. There are various considerations for which fats and oils to use. The science points to using modest amounts of fats and oils that are high in omega 3’s (ie. canola, soy, flax oil) or monounsaturates (ie. olive oil, avocado oil). My recommendations to people are generally to use extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed) for salads and quick cooking (yes despite the rather low smoke point you read about, I’ve never had a stir fry smoke on me ….) and for baking use a neutral flavoured oil such as canola. There’s lots more to discuss on this topic, I agree, but hope this is a helpful starting point.




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  17. I had a friend that once ate rancid olive oil while cooking brownies.

    She turned into Super Woman, so it ended up working out ok.




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  18. I had a friend that once ate rancid olive oil while cooking brownies.

    She turned into Super Woman, so it ended up working out ok.




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