Why You Should Never Eat Vegetable Oil or Margarine

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Why you should never eat vegetable oil or margarine
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Why You Should Never Eat Vegetable Oil or Margarine

Aside from whole grains, vegetable oils and margarine are some of the most misunderstood and over-recommended foods in the health community. You’ve probably heard these referred to as “heart-healthy oils,” a good alternative to those “artery-clogging saturated fats.”

Only one problem…. science doesn’t back these claims up!

Vegetable oils are found in practically every processed food, from salad dressing to mayo to conventional nuts and seeds. These oils are some of the most harmful substances you can put into your body, but more on that in a minute!

What Are Vegetable Oils/Margarine?

Vegetable oils (and margarine, made from these oils) are oils extracted from seeds like the rapeseed (canola oil) soybean (soybean oil), corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. They were practically non-existent in our diets until the early 1900s when new chemical processes allowed them to be extracted.

Unlike butter or coconut oil, these vegetable oils can’t be extracted just by pressing or separating naturally. They must be chemically removed, deodorized, and altered. These are some of the most chemically altered foods in our diets, yet they get promoted as healthy.

How Vegetable Oils Are Made

Vegetable oils are manufactured in a factory, usually from genetically modified crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides.

Take for instance the common canola oil, the beauty queen of the vegetable oil industry. It was developed by making a hybrid version of the rapeseed, and it was given its name in the 1980s as part of a marketing effort organized by a conference on mono-saturates.

Rapeseed oil contains high amounts of the toxic erucic acid, which is poisonous to the body. Canola oil is an altered version, also called Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed (LEAR) and it is commonly genetically modified and treated with high levels of pesticides.

Canola (modified rapeseed oil) is produced by heating the rapeseed and processing with a petroleum solvent to extract the oil. Then another process of heat and addition of acid is used to remove nasty solids (wax) that occur during the first processing.

At this point, the newly created canola oil must be treated with more chemicals to improve color and separate the different parts of the oil. Finally, since the chemical process has created a harsh smelling oil, it must be chemically deodorized to be palatable.

Hydrogenated Oil

If the vegetable oil is going to be made into shortening or margarine, it undergoes an additional process called hydrogenation to make it solid at cold temperatures. Unlike saturated fats (butter, coconut oil, etc.) vegetable oils are not naturally solid at these temperatures and must be hydrogenated to accomplish this. During this process of hydrogenation, those lovely trans fats we’ve heard so much about are created.

This chart from this informative article on the history and production of canola oil shows the process in more detail:

canola oil chart

Nothing like petroleum produced, overheated, oxidized, and chemically deodorized salad dressing for dinner…. yum.

(Compare that to butter… Step 1: milk cow. Step 2: let cream separate naturally. Step 3: skim off cream. Step 4: shake until it becomes butter.)

This article has fascinating videos contrasting the production of vegetable oils and butter.

History of Vegetable Oil Production and Consumption

As I mentioned, vegetable oil was practically non-existent in its current form in the early 1900s. Until that time, most people got their fats from animal sources like meat, tallow, lard, butter, cream, etc.

The overall amount of fat consumed has not changed much since then (it has decreased slightly) but the type has changed dramatically. In 1900 the amount of vegetable-based oils that people consumed was basically none. Today, people consume, on average, about 70 lbs of vegetable oils throughout the year. (Hmm, I wonder what 70 pounds of a “food” that was previously non-existent in human consumption might do to our health?)

Add to this the fact that the animals we eat are also often fed genetically modified pesticide-treated seeds and grains (cows are supposed to eat grass by the way!) and the amount of omega-6 rich oils and seeds in our diets is really high!

Though vegetable oil existed in the early 1900s, its use increase that much until the 1950s, when a governmental campaign was launched to convince people to eat vegetable oils and margarine and avoid “artery-clogging saturated fats.”

Check out the rise of canola oil since then (and the decline of butter):

why not to eat canola oil

And the rise in soybean oil production and consumption:

dont eat soybean oil

And corn oil:

u s corn oil consumption

As an interesting correlation, check out the rates of heart disease and cancer since then. As this article notes:

All one has to do is look at the statistics to know that it isn’t true. Butter consumption at the turn of the century was eighteen pounds per person per year, and the use of vegetable oils almost nonexistent. Yet cancer and heart disease were rare. Today butter consumption hovers just above four pounds per person per year while vegetable oil consumption has soared–and cancer and heart disease are endemic.

Since the 1950s these vegetable oils and their derivatives have been increasingly used in processed foods and for frying or cooking. They are marketed as healthy because they contain monounsaturated fats and some level of omega-3 fatty acids.

What’s Wrong With Vegetable Oils?

There are many problems with vegetable oil consumption, and in my opinion, no amount is safe. To understand why, let’s look at a few of the biggest problems with vegetable oils:

Our Bodies Aren’t Meant to Consume Them!

The fat content of the human body is about 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, with only 3% polyunsaturated fats. Half of that three percent is omega-3 fats, and that balance needs to be there. Vegetable oils contain very high levels of polyunsaturated fats, and these oils have replaced many of the saturated fats in our diets since the 1950s.

The body needs fats for rebuilding cells and hormone production, but it has to use the building blocks we give it. When we give it a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats instead of the ratios it needs, it has no choice but to incorporate these fats into our cells during cell repair and creation.

The problem is that polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and oxidize easily in the body (if they haven’t already oxidized during processing or by light exposure while sitting on the grocery store shelf). These oxidized fats cause inflammation and mutation in cells.

In arterial cells, these mutations cause inflammation that can clog arteries. When these fats are incorporated into skin cells, their mutation causes skin cancer. (This is why people often get the most dangerous forms of skin cancer in places where they are never exposed to the sun, but that is a topic for another day!)

When these oils are incorporated into cells in reproductive tissue, some evidence suggests that this can spur problems like endometriosis and PCOS. In short, the body is made up of saturated and monounsaturated fats, and it needs these for optimal health.

Vegetable Oils Contain High Levels of Omega-6 Fatty Acids

I’ve talked before about how the body needs omega-3 and omega-6 fats in balance, preferably a 1:1 ratio. Most people consume a much higher ratio of omega-6 fats, and this can lead to problems.

Vegetable oils contain a very high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats, which cause an imbalance of these oils in the body. Omega-6 fats are easily oxidized with heat or light exposure. This is another reason that when these types of fats/oils are incorporated into tissue like skin cells, the heat and light from sun exposure can increase skin cancer risk.

Unbalanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fats have been linked to skin cancer and many types of cancers. As a recent article from the Institute of Natural healing explains:

In one study performed at the University of Western Ontario, researchers observed the effects of ten different dietary fats ranging from most saturated to least saturated. What they found is that saturated fats produced the least number of cancers, while omega-6 polyunsaturated fats produced the most. Numerous other studies have also shown that polyunsaturated fats stimulate cancer while saturated fat does not1 and that saturated fats do not break down to form free radicals.2

In another study, Dr. Vivienne Reeve, PhD, Head of the Photobiology Research Group at the University of Sydney irradiated a group of mice while feeding while feeding different groups of them polyunsaturated and saturated fats. She discovered that the mice that consumed only saturated fat were totally protected from skin cancer. Those in the polyunsaturated fat group quickly developed skin cancers. Later in the study, the mice in the saturated fat group were given polyunsaturated fats. Skin cancers quickly developed.

The 3% of our body that is made up of polyunsaturated fats is approximately half omega-3 fatty acids and half omega-6 fatty acids and our body needs this balance. omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation and be protective against cancer, while too much omega-6 fats cause inflammation and increase cancer risk.

Over time, consumption of these oils high in omega-6s and polyunsaturated fats can also lead to other problems, as the above article elaborates:

The journal Epidemiology published a study called, “Margarine Intake and Subsequent Coronary Heart Disease in Men.” Authors of the study followed participants of the Framingham Heart Study for 20 years and recorded their incidence of heart attack. They also tracked both butter and margarine consumption.

The researchers discovered that as margarine consumption increased… heart attacks went up. As butter consumption increased… heart attacks declined.

The study also divided the data into ten year increments. What they discovered is that during the first ten years, there was little association between margarine consumption and heart attacks. However, during the second decade of follow-up, the group eating the most margarine had 77% more heart attacks than the group eating none!

Hmm… saturated fats don’t cause heart disease and vegetable-based fats do! Sounds like something I’ve said before.

Imbalance of these fats can also cause damage to the intestines and along with processed grain consumption can set the body up for a host of food allergies and autoimmune problems.

Chemicals and Additives in Vegetable Oils and Fats

Since vegetable oils are chemically produced, it’s not really surprising that they contain harmful chemicals. Most vegetable oils and their products contain BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene) which are artificial antioxidants that help prevent food from oxidizing or spoiling too quickly.

These chemicals have been shown to produce potential cancer-causing compounds in the body, and have also been linked to liver/kidney damage, immune problems, infertility or sterility, high cholesterol, and behavioral problems in children.

Vegetable oils also contain residues of the pesticides and chemicals used in their growth and manufacture and most often come from genetically modified sources.

Reproductive Problems and Problems in Children

Vegetable oils are extremely damaging to the reproductive system and the developing bodies of unborn babies and children. Because the reproductive system in both men and women is constantly producing and dividing new cells, there is potential for mutation and problems when these cells are made of the wrong kind of fats and are oxidized.

This same thing applies to unborn babies and children, whose cells are dividing at high rates. There is more potential for mutation because there are more cells dividing. From this article:

What the scientific literature does tell us is that low fat diets for children, or diets in which vegetable oils have been substituted for animal fats, result in failure to thrive–failure to grow tall and strong–as well as learning disabilities, susceptibility to infection and behavioral problems. Teenage girls who adhere to such a diet risk reproductive problems. If they do manage to conceive, their chances of giving birth to a low birth weight baby, or a baby with birth defects, are high.

Excess consumption of vegetable oils also causes problems with hormone production, since hormones are dependent on certain fats for their manufacture. Vegetable oils that are hardened by hydrogenation to make shortening or margarine are especially damaging.

Other Effects of Vegetable Oils on the Body

Because vegetable oils oxidize easily, they deplete the body of antioxidants since the body must use these to attempt to neutralize the oxidation. People with high consumption of vegetable oils and their products are at risk for vitamin E deficiency and other deficiencies.

Vegetable oil consumption has been linked to a host of other problems, among them (from the same article above):

In test animals, diets high in polyunsaturates from vegetable oils inhibit the ability to learn, especially under conditions of stress; are toxic to the liver; compromise the integrity of the immune system; depress the mental and physical growth of infants; increase levels of uric acid in the blood; cause abnormal fatty acid profiles in the adipose tissues: have been linked to mental decline and chromosomal damage and accelerate aging. Excess consumption of polyunsaturates is associated with increasing rates of cancer, heart disease and weight gain.

In light of all that information, how do you sort out which oils are healthy, and which ones aren’t? Even more important, how do you know how much of each one to consume to be healthy?

Oils and Fats to Avoid

Vegetable oils and their fats should be avoided completely. There are much healthier alternatives and there is no reason or need to consume these types of fats. The main culprits to watch out for are:

  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • “Vegetable” oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Any fake butter or vegetable oils products

There is no nutritional need for these oils and healthy fats can be found in higher amounts and better ratios in many other types of fats. This article has a great breakdown of the polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated content in the above oils.

While it is simple enough to avoid these oils themselves, the tougher challenge is avoiding all the foods they are in. Check out practically any processed food, and you will find at least one of these ingredients, often labeled as “partially hydrogenated corn/soybean/etc. oil” or “may contain soybean or canola oil.” These foods in particular often contain one of the above unhealthy oils:

  • Salad dressings
  • Store-bought condiments
  • Mayo
  • Chips
  • Artificial cheeses
  • Store-bought nuts and snacks
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Snack foods
  • Sauces
  • Practically anything sold in the middle aisles of the store

Oils and Fats to Use Freely

There are so many wonderful and healthy fats that are beneficial to the body, so there is no reason to consume the unhealthy ones above. Fats that can be consumed freely for optimal health are:

  • Coconut Oil– Filled with medium chain fatty acids and lauric acid, coconut oil is an all-star of the saturated fats. Since the fat composition in cells in the body is largely saturated fat, it is important to get enough of it from healthy sources. Coconut oil does not oxidize easily at high temperatures or go rancid easily, making it a good choice for cooking and baking. It also makes a great natural moisturizer and can be substituted for butter.
  • Meats – Meat, especially red meat, has gotten a bad rap, and unfortunately, the animals we eat have been as mistreated nutritionally as we have. Meats like grass fed beef and free range chicken has a very different nutritional profile than their feedlot counterparts. Grassfed and free range meats have higher nutrient levels, healthy forms of saturated fats and even omega-3s. If possible, consume these forms of meat.
  • Butter– This one food is usually the one people are happiest to start using again. Butter tastes delicious, and pastured grass fed butter is an excellent source of fat soluble vitamins, healthy saturated fat and other nutrients. In contains a compound that Weston A. Price called Activator X, known to improve nutrient absorption and have preventative benefits against disease.
  • Organic Cream– also a good source of healthy saturated fat, organic heavy cream is essentially liquid butter, and is great served whipped on top of fruit, in desserts or in cream based recipes.
  • Olive Oil– High in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats, olive oil is a great oil for salad dressings, homemade mayo,  and cold recipes. It shouldn’t be used for cooking since its high monounsaturated fat content makes it susceptible to oxidation at high temperatures.
  • Palm Oil– Has a high saturated fat content and is also heat stable. Some sources claim that palm oil production often encroaches on the natural habitat of some endangered animals, though sustainable versions can be found. If in doubt, just use coconut oil.
  • Avocados and Avocado Oil– A good source of monounsaturated fats and great on salads or in guacamole. Avocado oil is mild tasting and can be used in salad dressings.
  • Fish– Fish is naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids and can help improve the omega-3/omega-6 balance in the body. Look for sustainable wild caught sources, and stick to small fish like tuna, sardines, salmon, etc to minimize mercury.
  • Eggs– Another all-star in the healthy fats community, eggs are loaded with vitamins, healthy fats, and necessary cholesterol. Consume them daily from free-range sources.

Oils and Fats to Consume in Moderation

Some fats are nutritious and beneficial to the body but should still be consumed in moderation if they are eaten. Many contain high levels of Omega-6 fats and can therefore mess up the balance of fats in the body.

  • Flaxseed Oil– Though it contains a good amount of omega-3s, it also has a lot of omega-6s and its high polyunsaturated fat content makes it prone to oxidation if heated. Fish oil is a much better source of omega-3s, and in general, I don’t recommend flax oil, though it certainly is not the worst option.
  • Walnut Oil– Also high in omega-6 fats, but it has a great rich taste and can be safely used occasionally in dressings or desserts. It also has a slightly higher resistance to oxidation at higher temperatures than other nut oils.
  • Sunflower Oil– Many brands with a reputation for health consider high oleic sunflower oil safe and even beneficial as it contains some of the same compounds as olive oil. However, most sunflower oils added to vegetable oil blends are not in this form, so I avoid it unless it’s from a company I trust. Short answer: it isn’t something I’d cook with in large amounts or consume by itself, but it isn’t on my no list and I consider true sunflower oil safe.
  • Macadamia Nut Oil– This is one of my favorite tasting oils, but it is expensive. It is great in salad dressings or mayo. It has a lot of monounsaturated fats and low levels of polyunsaturated fats.
  • Nuts– Most types of nuts (remember peanuts are not nuts) are a good source of protein and healthy fats and can be eaten in moderation without problem. Just check to make sure they haven’t been cooked in vegetable oils, which is often the case. Nuts also contain phytic acid, so consuming them in excess can be problematic for tooth and bone health.

What to Do With the Vegetable Oils You Have Already?

If you already have some of the unhealthy vegetable oils in your house… don’t eat them! I’m not a fan of waste either, so use them up in other ways. They can be used to make homemade playdough or floor cleaner. You can also stick them in your shed for oiling tools. (Did I mention, don’t eat them!)

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Galamaga, whois a board-certified internal medicine physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.

Are you ready to throw out the vegetable oils? Still think canola oil is heart healthy? Share below!

Vegetable oil and margarine are artificial fats that have a very negative effect on the body. Find out why you shouldn't consume these oils.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


547 responses to “Why You Should Never Eat Vegetable Oil or Margarine”

  1. Skyler Avatar

    Folks have been using olive oil for years. And peanut oil is natural. Take natural peanut butter and let it sit a few days and you have peanut oil. Same with any nut butter, the oil rises to the top, so your propaganda is flawed.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I don’t have a problem with olive oil and dislike peanut oil because it is from a legume technically and in most cases is chemically extracted. All of the other oils are almost always chemically extracted and our bodies have absolutely no nutritional need for them

      1. Danielle Avatar

        Technically is the peanut oil at the top of all natural roasted peanut butter considered a bad fat, even though peanuts are legumes? In the natural peanut butter it is not extracted, correct? I am referring to all natural peanut butter with no additives, just peanuts.

  2. Emami Avatar

    People should never eat palm & soya oil; as manufacturing of such edible oils is from crude oil. In my openion oil brands like “Gemini” & Nature Fresh” are the worst brands in market.
    People should recommended to not purchase such brands.

  3. Joseph Concaugh Avatar
    Joseph Concaugh

    I’m a bit confused now.  I was pretty much ready to throw out all the vegetable oils I have, and probably will, but I was at Trader Joe’s website and noticed they have an Expeller Pressed Canolla Oil, http://www.purecanola.com/cooking-oil.html, and this stuff claims to be GMO free and uses no chemicals during the extraction process.  Am I missing something?  It’s ratio of Omega 6/Omega 3 is quite a bit better than Olive Oil as well (5.5 vs. 12.8).

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Canola oil is still high in polyunsaturated fats and not a good source of Omega-3s (just not a horrible one). I’d still stick with other options if they are available.

    2. Joann Avatar

      There is an expeller pressed canola oil. I work for a company that produces it. There are no chemicals involved (not bleached, dyed) and depending on the process there is some heat involved so it can not be called cold pressed. Often it is called single press. The studies I have seen state that the ratio of Omega 6 to 3 is well balanced (2 to 1 being optimal), and that canola oil is actually higher in Omega 3 than is Olive oil. Definitely the highly processed oils are something to avoid, but please don’t take one persons word that “all” canola oil is bad for you. Do your own research.

  4. Jem Avatar

    Tank You for this excellent article!

     Real Butter is one of my favorite topics and my top health food!
    Some more blogs for you all!:
    “Healthy and Well With Butter”:http://curezone.us/blogs/fm.asp?i=1782587
    “The Toils of Oils”:
    “Real Butter – An Amazing Health Food and Food As Medicine!”:http://curezone.com/blogs/fm.asp?i=1558277“The Use and Benefits of Very High Vitamin Butter For The Control of Dental Caries”:http://curezone.us/blogs/fm.asp?i=1282566Butter Up!Chef Jem

  5. Ester Avatar

    What an informative and thorough article!  I will be coming back for more info.  I recently read Ramiel Nagels book, Cure Tooth Decay based on Weston Price’s teaching and the reversal on my daughters cavities have been amazing.  We basically were on a low fat diet and have now been on a high fat diet for the last 3 weeks.  In such a short amount of time, her teeth look better, my son had gained weight and my cheeks look nice and rosy.  I now add a spash of cream into my green smoothie and my digestion has improved so much!  I am always learned new things about nutrition!  I look forward to your mayonaisse recipe.  I have not made it because I was avoiding using vegetable oil.  I will see how you make it 🙂  Thanks.

  6. Chris Avatar

    Can you explain a bit more on the heating of olive oil?  Is the only ill-effect that it depletes your body of vitamin e?  Can that be offset by taking additional vitamin e? 

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      taking additional vitamin E would help, but it is hard to find a bioavailable and stable supplemental source of vitamin E. We use tallow, lard or coconut oil to fry and personally, I think they taste better anyway, plus they don’t smoke at high heat!

  7. Mona Avatar

    What a wonderful article about vegetable oil.  Now it makes me wonder even more as to how vegetable oil can be used as alternative fuels for diesel engines. 

  8. Wellness Mama Avatar
    Wellness Mama

    It’s not bad, and it is great for flavor. It doesn’t undergo the processing that most vegetable oils do, but it shouldn’t be your main oil Great in salad dressings and stir frys though!

    1. Bethany Avatar

      do you consider toasted sesame oil to be bad because of heat treatment? Sometimes I make stir fry just because I want that smell in the kitchen.

  9. Rita Avatar

    great information about the vegetable oils.  I recently purchased my first jar of coconut oil this is all new to me.    Do you have any insight about sesame oil?  I didn’t see it on any of the lists good, bad or in between.

  10. Lori Avatar

     This is a very “western” outlook. From my information sources, peanut oil has been used in Asia for centuries. So I presume it is a healthy oil. Also, in addition to cod liver oil, the ancient Vikings used to use rapeseed oil, granted, without all the weird modern processing.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      You’re right that some of these oils have been used in other places,
      though to my knowledge, they are cold pressed, and don’t undergo any
      of the chemical processing, which changes the structure considerably.
      They all still have high Omega-6 content though, and many people
      today already consume far too much of these type of oils.

  11. Tan Avatar

    I read on a book that some of the harmful, processed, bleached, etc. oils had a natural, pressed version which was healthy, though it had a short shelf life. Is this true?

    My parents say that when they raised their own pigs the lard was very different from the one in nowadays’ supermarkets. That it tasted better and was “less bland”. How can we (city dwellers) find good lard (general advice, please, I don’t live in the USA)?

    My brother makes an olive oil spread by mixing olive oil, ground herbs and ground fresh garlic _and he stores it in the coolest shelf of the fridge_ . This keeps it semi-solid to help spreading and is natural 🙂

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      You are right that there are natural cold pressed versions of some
      oils that are somewhat healthy (though rapeseed aka canola is never
      healthy!) though even the naturally produced ones have a high Omega-6
      ratio, which is not good in any large amounts. Since the natural
      versions of these oils are much more expensive anyway, I still opt
      for better choices like coconut, olive, or even tallow or lard if
      given the choice.

      Lard- that is a tougher one! I know a few resources here in the US,
      but don’t know of any overseas. My best advice would be to ask your
      butcher for the fat and render your own tallow or lard. There are a
      lot of tutorials on this online, but I’ll also be chronicling my
      experience with it soon.

      I love the idea of the olive oil spread! Definitely going to have to
      try that one!

      1. Noel Avatar

        Start a class action suite against those Canadians and States businesses that provide rapeseed only in the fashion you cite. Should make billions for millions of “injured” folks all across North America?

      2. Donna Avatar

        I live in the UK. I have recently discovered that my local butchers makes its own good quality beef lard. It may be worth other members checking with their local butchers or farms if they have one.

  12. Cathy Avatar

    I hope no one that references this website and all the facts is indeed a smoker. That is going to be one of the worst things you can do, you would smoke but then care that your oils and margarine are bad for you!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I agree… smoking is one way to deteriorate your health very
      quickly. I usually assume that most readers aren’t smokers, but I
      suppose some are. I would say that avoiding vegetable oils is even
      MORE important for smokers though, because the smoke and toxins would
      cause the oils to oxidize faster in the body and create a worse
      reaction than in a non-smoker.

  13. J. Stanton Avatar
    J. Stanton

    I have a few rules about what I eat. One is “If you can put it in a truck and the truck starts, it’s not food.”

    Beef tallow is great to cook with. It’s not hard to make your own from suet, or even trimmings, but I absolutely recommend wet-rendering as it tastes much better. Dry-rendering tastes a bit burnt and excessively beefy to me.

    For traditional pie crusts and cake, use leaf lard, like your grandmother did. (Not regular lard.) It’s tough to find, though: you might have to find the kidney fat and wet-render it yourself.

    Important fact: there is substantial unlabeled trans fat in canola and soybean oil (and probably all other polyunsaturated vegetable oils), created by the process of extraction, deodorizing, etc. that Katie talks about. I wrote an article about that here, with a link to the original study:


    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I love this: “I have a few rules about what I eat. One is “If you
      can put it in a truck and the truck starts, it’s not food.””

      I’ve been experimenting with rendering tallow and lard lately….
      definitely a new experience, but I do love using it in certain types
      of cooking!

      Thanks for the link to your article also… I always enjoy reading
      your posts!

      1. J. Stanton Avatar
        J. Stanton

        Much appreciated! I love what you’re doing here, as it brings healthy eating to a very different audience than most of us have.

        I also like to note that coconut oil comes in refined and unrefined versions. Unrefined probably has more nutrients in it, but it tastes strongly of coconuts. I’m not a fan of the standard industrial RBD oil, but you can get cold-pressed, organic refined oil that has a completely neutral taste.

        1. Charlene Avatar

          Hi! I have a question about the organic refined oil. I have coconut oil here what claims to be organic but also odorless ( = refined, right?) So that confused me. But reading your comment, i can conclude this oil IS organic AND refined, but still has the same amount of benefits and nutrients as the unrefined coconut oil? ( because I don’t like the taste either )

          1. Wellness Mama Avatar
            Wellness Mama

            It won’t have the exact same nutrients but it is a good choice…

    2. Navi Avatar

      If you want to render good beef lard ask you butcher for kidney fat. It has very little beefy taste and is the purest fat you will get from animal

    3. Griffin Avatar

      J. Stanton,
      If your rule is “If you can put it in a truck, and the truck starts, it’s not food”, you’ll have to say goodbye to grandma’s pie crusts and cakes made with lard.
      Many vehicles that can run on vegetable oil require a tan heater to keep the oil viscosity sufficiently low, with that very common attribute, a vehicle can be made to rule on tallow just as easily as it can be made to run on vegetable oil.
      Maybe you should reconsider your rule, and perhaps change it to something that will allow you to burn your fuel and eat it too.

  14. Katie Avatar

    Wow what a great post! I had no idea just how bad the stuff was. I am tossing my canola and peanut oils and pulling out the enormous tub of food grade coconut oil I over-ordered for soap making! Finally a use for it! lol
    Just a silly question, I currently use a commercial olive oil spread in place of marg or butter – bad idea?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      It isn’t as bad as some, the problem is that it too has to be
      hydrogenated to become semi-solid. Butter and coconut oil are
      definitely better, and if you are worried about getting enough
      monounsaturated fats in or just like the taste, whip a little olive
      oil into some pastured grassfed butter for non-cooking uses… tastes

      1. Katie Avatar

        After posting this message I went a had a look at the ingredients and found that, of the oils used in the spread, only about 25% of them were olive oil, the rest were vegetable oils. Question answered. Goodbye crap tasting ‘olive oil’ spread – hello butter and avocado! Thanks for your answer 🙂

      2. Steph Avatar

        so your saying you don’t cook with butter?

        If not how do you make pancakes/waffles if your not using vegetable oil either?

  15. Theresa Morgan Avatar
    Theresa Morgan

    This is a lot of information. Informative, but also a little overwhelming, considering we just started changing our diet. I could probably come up with a ton of questions but I’ll try to limit it to just a few. I know it’s easy to make salad dressings, but what about other condiments, such as ketchup, bbq sauce (I make my own, but it contains ketchup), or mayo? Do you make your own? If so, what kind of shelf life do they have? I use shortening in my icings for cake, and also in pie crusts. Do you have any suggestions for a substitute?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Hi Theresa! We make our own ketchup and BBQ sauce too. I’ll post
      those recipes soon. They can be made from store bought tomato sauce/
      paste or from fresh tomatoes that you can yourself. I make mayo also,
      the link is under recipes. The mayo lasts a couple weeks and the
      ketchup/bbq sauce last over a month.
      For shortening, replace with coconut oil. It works really well and
      has a richer taste in my opinion. It also binds really well in cakes,
      even if you use almond or coconut flour.

        1. Arty Avatar

          use lard and butter 50/50 in pastry. make buttercream frosting using butter and icing sugar or just use whipped cream to fill a cake.

          1. Nicole Avatar

            I’m not sure what oil to use for baking though when my husband and daughter are severely lactose intolerant. I was using Crisco but I see I need to change that. My husband HATES coconut so that’s out.

        2. george Avatar

          processed coconut oil has no coconut taste its still healthy and works great

          1. JenP Avatar

            Nicole – lard for pie crusts and pasties, and you can actually use olive oil for cakes or muffins.

  16. Mel Avatar

    Ok so I’m feeling silly here – I love all this info but of course as I learn more and more it becomes overwhelming. What kind of butter should I be buying? I saw my store sells organic, grass-fed butter but I know organic doesn’t always mean healthy. I have some stuff now that is free of hydrogented oil.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Organic grass fed butter is great, that means it is pastured and that the cows were eating grass not grains. It will be much higher in fat soluble vitamins and nutrients. The organic stuff is more expensive though, but worth it, in my opinion. It also has a much richer taste!

      1. Jaide Avatar

        Katie – What is your take on the Balade Light Butter (u can get them at Trader Joes) that is marketed as Butter but has modified corn starch in it. May be on your next trip, you can check the label or I can take a pic and send it to u,, Appreciate your thoughts.

      2. Steph Avatar

        Hi Wellness mama/others

        As a former personal trainer I am curious if you feel vegetable oil should be avoided (or) used sparingly depending more on the individual. (I.e. who may be obese, obvious health issues, etc)

        For instance: I know athletes, body builders from all walks of life, all healthy/energetic, who dont think too much about what kind of oil they cook with.

        Of course there is always an exception but the general point im getting at is some of the healthiest people I know seem to focus more on incorporating whole food, and becoming more active, (even walking more) and not so much about completely omitting anything (unless of course that food group is creating obvious issues)

        Same with sugar. You mentioned in another article that ‘even a little bit is harmful’ But yet pro and performance athletes drink gatorade type drinks quite generously for instance and maintain impeccable health.

        Yes, this article is about vegetable oil but for the sake of perspective most Ive seen give up on fitness goals or (becoming generally more healthy) is because they simply did not allow enough of their favorite foods (which many include vegetable oil, sugar, grains, etc)

        So Im curious if anyone else’s experience has been the same??

    2. Lori Avatar

      Hi Mel, and others. I usually buy Organic Valley’s “Pasture Butter” or Kerry Gold. Why, because they are butters made from milk from cows that were grazing on green growing grass. If you compare the color of these butters with other butters, you will find that they are much yellower. The yellow color comes from the vitamin K in the grass.  This is how most butter used to look and why, when margarine first came on the market, it was called “oleo” (which is the name of the yellow coloring added to make them look more like butter). Enjoy!

      1. Bill Avatar

         That’s all good except for one serious glitch.
        If the milk/cream from which the butter has been made, was pasteurized then it is no longer a healthy food regardless of how it was grown.

        1. Abe Avatar

          It does lose enzymes but fat is not destroyed with heat. You can heat butter and it doesn’t change into a different substance like olive oil does. Grass fed butter has many vitamins that grain fed doesn’t even have. There are studies showing the comparison. Also homogenization is what destroys the fat in milk. Real milk has cream floating on top that has to be shaken back in before use…yum! Homogenization is the real culprit for most people not being able to handle milk.

          1. Ann Avatar

            Where can I buy coconut oil on a regular basics.
            Thanks! Interesting articule.

          2. Steph Avatar

            this argument with “raw milk” reminds me of the one with cod liver oil. It’s foul, it’s nasty, the drawbacks just are not worth it.

        2. Blake Avatar

          Agreed, wild Bill. Raw butter is by far the best. And of course organic and grass fed. Fats are affected by heat – the hotter the more lipid peroxide that are created as a byproduct of the cooking.

          1. Blake Avatar

            Plus you lose all of the enzymes and beneficial bacteria. And the higher the heat the more destruction you are causing to all nutrients.

      2. Erin Avatar

         Interesting about the color. I was told that butter is actually a very pale color, and that to distinguish it from lard, which is white, it was colored yellow with calendula flowers. Apparently, that is the reason that butter used to be said to be good for burns – calendula flowers are good for healing wounds and promoting cell regeneration.

        1. Ed Avatar

          please do not follow eaxtly what this article has said…. search the web and you can easily find alot of information that is not true.. E.g. Using coconut oil.

          1. Serrie Avatar

            Coconut oil is the most healthy oil out there not just for cooking but for over 50 other things.  Coconut oil got a bad rap years ago when some food nazis complained about the movie theater popcorn and as it turned out there is no better oil for popcorn to be popped in.

          2. Joanna Avatar

            Please be aware that any information you may have seen on the harmful effects of coconut oil are based on the HYDROGENATED kind – & we all know how harmful *any* hydrogenated oil is – the organic cold pressed oil is actually excellent for increasing HDLs, fat burning (metabolism), addressing dysbiosis, and a whole host of other health benefits. Check your information for the form used before you discredit real coconut oil. Cheers!

          3. Abe Avatar

            You are reading studies not using pure coconut oil. Eating real fats actually makes you lose weight. Unsaturated is what actually hurts hearts and brains. It is crazy how the system pushed today has is backwards and wrong!!!

          4. Iris Avatar

            Exactly, and palm oil is one of the worst oils. And Sunflower oil is not that bad. Many thinks that I have read here are mistaken.

          5. Steph Avatar

            Very true Ed. This is why I don’t take anything off the deep end and consider both sides.

            I personally like cooking with butter as I prefer it, but too fry up some eggs with vegetable oil never killed anyone for crying out loud.

            There are many many studies and I site called nutritionasiknowit that specializes in the actual science.

      3. kaatya Avatar

        In the book Little House in the Big Woods, Laure Ingalls Wilder describes her mother colouring the butter using a grated carrot tied in muslin. I believe that this was necessary only in winter, but check original source for the full story!

    3. Erin Avatar

       Grass fed dairy is the best there is! Cows are meant to eat grass and thus those that do produce healthy dairy and meat for us to eat. The vast majority of animals used for human food in this country are rasied indoors in feeding stations – ie massivly overcrowded warehouses for animals where they are fed corn and grains NOT what cows are meant to eat- and never see grass past six months old. If a cow is grassfed, it has had a good life and is going to produce good milk.

      1. Gary Loewenthal Avatar
        Gary Loewenthal

        Dairy cows – on all dairies – have their babies taken from them. They have been bred over centuries to overproduce milk, which takes a constant toll on their bodies and increases the chances of painful mastitis infections. They are killed when around 5 years old – young adulthood. That’s not a good life. We have no need for dairy, it’s linked to a ton of diseases and afflictions, it *inherently* has 3 dozen hormones that are foreign to the human body, countries with the highest rate of dairy consumption also have the highest rate of osteoporosis, and in a study of 14,000 Seventh Day Adventist men, those who regularly consumed soymilk instead of cows’ milk had a 70% lower rate of prostate cancer.

          1. Sharon Avatar

            I raise grass fed beef but sometimes in winter I do provide some molasses mixed grain. Boy do they put weight on then! But being from a huge ranching family I have noticed something different! We always gave shots for black leg, bangs, lepto etc.
            When I have bought healthy looking calves at a sale, several times within a few days they get sick, usually with “shipping fever”.
            Of course I always quartile away from my herd. But my own bred and born calves are healthy and I have never given them any shots! It started out by accident, time just got away from me and then I decided to experiment and not give shots!
            My babies are strong and healthy never get sick!

        1. Kirsten McCulloch Avatar
          Kirsten McCulloch

          Actually, not *all* dairies separate the calves from the mamas – do all large mainstream ones? Probably, but I know of at least one small one near me that doesn’t.

        2. Skye Avatar

          Not ALL dairy farms. There are a very small handful of small production farms popping up which allow the calf to remain with cow. They are hard to find & I’m not even sure where you would start over there but we have one locally here in Hunter valley (Australia) which also doesn’t homogenise the milk. Pasteurisation is compulsory unfortunately.

        3. Fred Avatar

          Gary how do those hormones get past the stomach and into the body?

      2. Sharon Avatar

        I was raised on a farm drinking raw milk and mostly homemade butter. We also had a garden raised our own beef, pork and chickens. Rarely didn’t mother make anything from a can. I say that is why I rarely get sick, last time I had a “flu” was probably in 1986! I haven’t seen a Dr for being sick since then and I am 58! I have a small herd of beef cattle and I don’t take the calves off their Mother, although I have a mom that was a bottle baby and she still lets her yearling nurse! So that one I may have to separate! I have suffered from low thyroid in the last ten years so I am going to try coconut oil and watch my other oil intakes! Thank you for the articles.

    4. Abe Avatar

      Grass fed butter is amazing. I can’t believe I’ve just found out about it. Coconut Oil is also a must. Grass fed butter is superior to organic because cows need grass to be healthy and produce vitamin rich cream. Cows that eat grains need medicine to not be sick.

    5. Sherry Avatar

      Find a raw milk supplier. Raw milk can be difficult as for whatever idiotic reasons, some states have regulated against them. I buy 3 gal of raw milk about every 10 days for my family. The day after I bring it home, I strip the cream into Ball canning jars (or other suitable GLASS container). For whatever reason, if I allow the cream to remain in the fridge a few days, it seems to whip into butter better. I use my hand-held mixer on high speed and one quart takes about 45 min to process from start to finish. 3 gallons of JERSEY cow milk (the best for high butterfat) gives me about 2 qt of cream! Pour the cream into a high-sided large mixing bowl. Bear in mind that the volume will nearly double initially! Whip PAST the whipped cream stage and keep on going. Eventually the volume will diminish and you will begin to see the butter and buttermilk separate. Keep going. Once you have nicely formed butter globules, you can stop mixing. The butter quantity will be about 1/3 of what you had in the jar. Place a strainer over another bowl and line the strainer with a linen dish towel or other non-fiberous towel. I heard Handi-Wipes work too. Cheesecloth is too porous. Pour off the buttermilk and KEEP it to use for crepes, pancakes, biscuits, etc.. Wash the butter (either in the bowl – which is easiest or in the towel) with COLD water to get out any remaining buttermilk. If you leave the buttermilk in the butter, the flavor will sour faster. It’s still usable, but it won’t taste that great. You can add salt/sugar/honey/other seasonings to your butter after you’ve made it. Strain the butter through the cloth kneed under cold water for a couple minutes then place into a container and refrigerate/freeze.

      Raw milk is wonderful! Unless contaminated, it never spoils! Cream that sours can be used as sour cream in a lot of recipes. You can make yogurt, kefir, cheeses… It’s so very versatile! ALSO, let’s not forget to mention the health benefits! It’s natural and living, not destroyed by pasteurization and it has no added chemicals!

    6. Brian Maples Avatar
      Brian Maples

      Kerry gold makes a great grass fed cow butter, it’s very good and you can find it at Wal-Mart, yes you heard me correctly Wal-Mart sells Kerry gold butter!

    7. Cassie Avatar

      The stipulations for something being “organic” does not always = healthy. Grassfed is best, and helps avoid bioaccumlation, which is the accumulation of substances, such as pesticides, or other chemicals in animal fat (passed on through the butter). Cows can get this from eating corn (they’re *supposed* to eat grass), so go with grassfed. Kerrygold is more commonly sold in stores, but note that in the winter they’re fed feed that has GMOS (because it’s winter…and the grass is dead. So they kinda have to.) There are other butters out there that are from cows that are grass-fed year-round, but they might be harder to get your hands on. From what I’ve seen, when in doubt, go grass-fed.

      1. Evelyn Mc Donnell Avatar
        Evelyn Mc Donnell

        Kerrygold is an Irish brand and in Ireland, cows are mostly fed with silage (fermented grass) during winter. Farmers make enough silage in the summer to get them through the winter and also buy excess stores from other farmers when they run low. They do occasionally supplement a cow’s winter diet with grain but only if she seems to be losing weight or is recovering from an illness or injury and the amount of grain is very small in comparison to the amount of silage being consumed at the same time. Grain is expensive and Irish farms are very small compared to those in bigger countries, meaning farmers are on a fairly low budget so can’t afford to feed grain to cows unless it’s absolutely necessary – same goes for antibiotics and other medication – no Irish farmer can afford to pay unnecessary vet’s bills. I am not a farmer myself but my boyfriend is and I live in a rural area surrounded by dairy and cattle farms so I know how it works. Hope this puts readers’ minds at rest regarding Kerrygold and other Irish dairy and meat products.

          1. Jen Avatar

            Great info Evelyn! Very glad Kerrygold is easy to find in the stores, I love it.

    1. J. Stanton Avatar
      J. Stanton

      In general, the more health claims are made on the product label, the worse it is for you. AFAIK the “heart-healthy” logo is available to anyone with a $7500 check and whose product doesn’t immediately kill people.

  17. Liz Avatar

    Love this post. Very dense, but great info. I’m sending it to everyone I know. 🙂

  18. Lisa Avatar

    Do you have any thoughts/recommendations on formula or alternatives? We adopted our first child at birth and are hoping to adopt again (if the diet doesn’t turn our infertility around first!). Our daughter was fed Enfamil and did very well on it, but the ingredients listed include “vegetable oil (palm olein, soy, coconut, and high oleic sunflower oils)”, and now I’m not sure what to do if we need to use formula for our next child.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Hi Lisa, I was actually going to recommend Nourishing Tradition’s
      recipe as well! Thanks Lizz for sharing! You can also mix coconut oil
      into first foods to help get the medium chain fatty acids and lauric
      acid that are provided by breastmilk (coconut oil also bakes a great
      diaper cream)

      1. Sugal Avatar

        Liz- you could also attempt to lactate by pumping and taking certain herbs. I would contact a lactation consultant for the specifics. I personally know someone who has done this. The other option is donated breast milk. What a gift you are giving this new child by adopting!

      1. Iline Avatar

        it calls for gelatin, which is made from boiling the bones and skin of cows and pigs.

        1. Wellness Mama Avatar
          Wellness Mama

          Gelatin and gelatinous like substances are actually great for intestinal health and hair, skin and nails….

        2. Bill Avatar

           And… if they are properly raised animals (not grain and “slop” fed) they are perfectly good sources of food.

          1. Noel Avatar

            So how would you know, buying in a city store. The source must be certified by yourself or it is a useless certification and will not be 100% “properly raised” as you naïvely state it.

          2. Jennifer Wohlander Avatar
            Jennifer Wohlander

            You might also consider something we’re doing now… we live in DC but have a nearby farm that provides grass fed beef – we bought a 1/4 of a cow which lasts us a ridiculously long time. We also get raw milk delivery weekly. After reading about pasteurization and the A2 protein in store bought milk I just had to try something else for my kids’ sakes.

          1. flanders Avatar

            I dont think there is vegan gelatin, it comes from bones of animals who lived in misery, you can find agar agar though and that will be a good substitute in most recipes, and nothing had to experience unbearablepain to get it 🙂

      2. Madz Avatar

        Hello just happen to read your article? JUST WONDERING , if fish is high in omega 3 and since Omega 3 is sensitive to heat. Does that mean we should eat it raw. Otherwise we are eating another toxic or just protien?

        1. Wellness Mama Avatar
          Wellness Mama

          Typically, fish isn’t cooked to an internal temperature of over 350 degrees, even though it may be cooked in that heat, so the omega-3s stay in tact…

          1. Robert Wall Avatar
            Robert Wall

            Holy moley, I should hope not! No meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 350 degrees. 180 degrees would be high for beef, let alone fish.

            Fish is cooked to an internal temperature of between 125 and 145 degrees (beyond that it can get rubbery rather quickly).

            Omega-3 presence in fish depends on how the fish is cooked. Fried is the worst. Baked/boiled is the best. Do a little bit of research – there are lots of studies out there.

            Of course if you’re into raw, tuna sushi is pretty darn tasty. 🙂

            Or you can toss a little ground flax seed in a smoothie and get the Omega-3s + some protein + some good fiber. 😀

    2. Debra Bertelli Avatar
      Debra Bertelli

      you shouldn’t use any type of oil. not even coconut oil. oils oxidize and thats very bad for the body, cause when your insides get oxidized thats trouble. by the way canola oil is not made from a seed, it was created in a lab in canada. check it out for yourselves. eat butter and lard no oxidation there.

      1. Drew Avatar

        Some of the most important reactions in your body are REDOX reactions (see respiration). Additionally, oil being oxidized would mean that the parts of your body participating in the reaction would be reduced (the opposite of oxidation). Moreover, fats and oils are pretty much the same thing (structurally speaking), the main difference being their melting point.

      2. Roger Avatar

        Canola oil does indeed come from a seed. I’ve heard your comment several times as well as “if you eat canola oil you’re eating engine oil.” Both are silly and easy to check. Canola (CANadian Oil Low Acid) oil is rapeseed oil that has been chemically altered to reduce a naturally bitter taste. Before they figured out how to make it palatable to humans they did indeed use it as engine oil but so what? I use olive oil to lubricate my knife sharpening stones. Does that mean I’m eating machining oil? Well, sort of but so what?

      3. Tammy Stimmel Avatar
        Tammy Stimmel

        Don’t tell that to the people in Sardinia ( a blue zone) who literally drink olive oil. Throw it over all food then dip there bread in it.

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