The right fats

When we are using oils while cooking, it is important we use the best ones to ensure we’re getting the right fats.

The right fat products have a balance of saturated and unsaturated fats. It is generally the processed fats we should try to limit in our diet. (Most packaged foods contain a higher proportion of processed fats.)

Choose whole food options when you are shopping for butter, dairy products, meat and eggs. Keep in mind that ‘low fat’ sometimes means ‘high carbs with added sugars’.

Some fats are essential for good health, including the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Good sources of omega-3 include cold-water oily fish, grass-fed meat, organic eggs, flax seed (linseed), kiwifruit, black raspberries and walnuts.

Simple rules when using oils

When we are using oils, we need to choose good oils:

  • For high-temperature cooking try grape seed, rice bran, peanut, or macadamia oils, as these are more stable. However, prolonged or very high temperatures (e.g. deep frying) will destroy many of the antioxidants and phytochemicals contained in the oil. Prolonged deep frying can also generate trans fats. Even if we use trans fat free oil we need to change it regularly.
  • For dressings and flavor try sesame, olive, or walnut oils. Try some fresh ‘hand-picked’ oils from local producers – they taste much better.
  • Choose organic or virgin (not refined) oils where we can, as these contain more polyphenols. ‘First cold press’ means that it came from the first press, and generally contains the most phytonutrients.  ‘100% Pure Olive Oil’ is often the lowest-quality available. Good quality extra virgin olive oil should have a distinct green color, and be stored in the dark. If your oil is light or yellow, its polyphenol content is probably also low.


Vegetable oil/canola oil for cooking Olive oil, peanut oil (organic), rice bran oil and macadamia oil (good for high-temperature cooking)
Margarine Organic butter, un-salted butter, olive oil and butter blend, hummus, drizzled olive oil, avocado

Last reviewed 10/Jun/2017

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