Essential Oils
and other fats

Fat and oil has been labeled as 'bad' up until scientists discovered that there are good fats. These are called essential oils because human body cannot produce them and must be taken from diet. People heard about omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. What are these, what are the differences between these three, and why and how our body needs them?

Below is the summary and description of types of fat that can be found in the food. There are more subtypes of fat then listed here. To see the full list of fatty acid names found in food, click here.

Broadly, there are two types of fat – unsaturated fat and saturated fat. Generally unsaturated fat is better for health then saturated fat – except trans fat. Every fat listed below are found in nature except trans-fat. Trans-fat is man made unsaturated fat; it is also called partially hydrogenated fat.

Table of Contents

Dangers of Common Cooking Oils

Before explain about different types of oils, there is something important to be said about common oil used in most households. All the non-expeller pressed vegetable oils that you have in the kitchen should be discarded (preferably in your backyard to rot or make a lamp – never put in sink or bathtub drain. It clog pipes.), and replace with cold pressed (= expeller pressed) oils.

In old days, oil was always extracted by simply pressing on raw/roasted seeds. Nowadays some oils are still produced using expeller pressed method. But most of vegetable oils which are in average supermarket shelves are produced in a method where seeds are heated to 230 F and chemicals added to extract more oils.

The high temperature processing causes the weak carbon bonds of the unsaturated fatty acids to break apart (especially omega-3 fatty acid), thereby creating dangerous free radicals. Omega 3 linolenic acid is essential for human body which most Americans do not eat enough. When omega-3 oil is heated such way, it become toxic – as with any oils denatured by heat and oxygen in the air. The oil is then squeezed out at pressures from 10 to 20 tons per inch.

In order to extract oil from the final pulp, chemicals which act as solvents are added such as hexane. The solvent is toxic, and it also bonds to toxic pesticides in the seeds. The solvent is boiled out as vapor. However, these chemicals still remain in oil, in the concentration of up to 100 part per million.

At the end, artificial preservatives such as BHT and BHA, (both suspected of causing cancer and brain damage) are added to the oils to replace the lost natural preservatives which where destroyed by the heat processing. Any cheap oils (doesn't matter if it say soy, corn, cottonseed, canola, vegetable, etc) fall under this category.

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Trans Fat (=Partially Hydrogenated Fat)

Partially hydrogenated margarines and shortening are worse than average vegetable oils sold in supermarket. It is made out from that same toxic oils described above. It is also due to the chemical changes during the hydrogenation process. Artificially made trans-fats are toxic, but body does not recognize them as toxic. Instead of eliminating them, the body incorporates trans-fats into cell membranes as if they where cis fats (natural fats). From this process, cells actually become partially hydrogenated. This interferes with normal chemical processes in cells. As a result, many cellular metabolisms done at cell surfaces are not fully carried out, leading to toxic accumulation, obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, dried skins, bad body smell, and many more.

Not only that, in terms of rising blood pressure and hardening arteries, trans-fat is twice as bad as saturated fat. If you have high blood pressure, it is essential to avoid restaurant foods, unless you are sure that they use non-trans-fat for cooking.

There is definite and important difference between partially hydrogenated oil and fully hydrogenated oil. Fully hydrogenated oil is naturally occurring oil, and is called saturated oil. In the food label, if oil is fully hydrogenated, it will say saturated instead of "fully hydrogenated." The term, "fully hydrogenated" is not used. Fully hydrogenated margarines from expeller pressed organic vegetable oils such as Earth Balance Spreads is better then regular butter and much better then average margarine. Grass fed organic cow/goat butter from unpasteurized raw milk is healthy alternative, too. Make sure you buy organic butter from cow that ate only organic grass. Also, butter's nutritional value is the best when cow is fed fresh spring season grass. This is difficult to get; the easier choice is organic vegan spreads.

Above description is short essential description about trans-fat. For more information about trans-fat, go to:
Trans-fat Free Kitchen from the Culinary Institute of America's, then watch:

  • "A close look at the Dangers" to see the health problem related to trans-fat.

  • "Tracking Down Trans-fats in Your Operation" to see how widely trans-fat is used in supermarket and restaurants operation.

If one considers to replace trans-fat mixed frying oil to all natural oil, it is useful to know oxidation rate of different oils.

  • Oleic (source of omega-9) 18:1
  • Linoleic (source of omega-6) 18:2 (= 27 times faster then Oleic)
  • Linolenic (source of omega-3) 18:3 (= 77 times faster then Oleic)

This is why linolenic oil, source of omega-3 fatty acid, is so readily destroyed by heat and light. Since grape seed oil is almost all made out of linoleic (source of omega-6) and almost none of linolenic (source of omega-3) acid, it is suitable as frying oil. It also has much needed vitamin E in abundance to prevent oxidation during cooking.

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Essential Fatty Acids (= EFA)

EFA Deficiency in US

Before anything is said about Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9, it should be pointed out that EFA deficiency is common in the US, particularly Omega-3 deficiency. An ideal intake ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids is between 1:1 to 1:4. However, with most Americans Omega-3 and Omega-6 ratio is between 1:10 to 1:30 – too much Omega-6 and too little Omega-3. Omega-3 is in many foods but readily destroyed by heat and exposure to sunlight for a period time.

Americans mostly eat processed food and only little bit of fresh fruits, vegetables, and raw nuts. Omega-3 deficiency follows as a result. The minimum healthy intake for an adult per day for linolenic (Omega-3) and linoleic (Omega-6) acid is 1.5 grams for each. One tablespoon of flaxseed oil can provide this amount, or larger amounts of other linolenic-rich foods.

Since high heat destroys linolenic acid, cooking in linolenic rich oils or eating cooked linolenic rich oils, seeds, and fish will not provide sufficient omega-3. Also eating farm raised fish (salmon, most notably) do not provide omega-3 at all because of the unnatural diet fish is given by fish farmers (Click here to read more about this). Generally, grass fed animals have more Omega-3 than grain fed animals in the meat. Even so, when the meat is cooked or aged, Omega-3 is destroyed. This is why a person who eats meat should keep in mind that it will take at least 1-2 week for meat to be processed and transported to supermarkets.

Even if you eat organic meat and wild fish in raw, there is still danger of toxic. Fishes accumulate methyl\mercury which is 100 times more toxic then mercury found in land. Also, when all animals go through slaughter process and die, body chemicals are produced, which corresponds to emotions of the dying animal, which is toxic.

Omega-3 suppresses allergy reaction, inflation, prevent blood clotting, and dilute blood vessels. Omega-6 has opposite effects of Omega-3. This is why two should be eaten with balanced ratio. Too much of either one is not good for body.

Also clinical studies show that the ingested ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 (especially Alpha Linolenic vs Linoleic) fatty acids is important to maintaining cardiovascular health. Eating refined sugar (white and brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, syrup made out of sugar, refined maltose, and anything contain these) and refined grain products (white flour, white bread, white rice) also cause the body to metabolize Omega-6 fats into pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (condition that unsaturated fatty acid in the body causes inflammation). Inflamed condition of a body result blood vessels damage. These in turn form blood clots inside blood vessel which increase blood pressure.

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Omega-3 Deficiency and Diseases

Too little omega-3 and much omega-6 triggers body’s unnecessary inflammation response. Inflammation response is basically triggering white blood cells and other immune cells to their attack mode. When this happens, white blood cell will attack its own body's blood vessel walls, irritating inner linings. Irritation of inner walls cause platelet in the blood to be activated causing blood clots. This impedes blood flow causing high blood pressure and possible sudden stroke. This type of chronic inflammation / high blood pressure often has no outward symptoms that conventional medicine will detect.

If this happens, the human body system brings in cholesterol in order to lay soothing layer over these irritation / nicks. This way, blood vessel gets thickened, which in turn leads to high blood pressure. Too often, conventional medicine prescribes a statin drug to merely stifle the body's ability to produce cholesterol, which tend to make the person dependent on statin drug for their rest of life.

When your body is constantly irritated, there is a proliferation of white blood cells that eventually starts to attack organs and tissues. Inflammation plays a big role in many of today's chronic illnesses including arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer's, obesity, stroke, lupus and cancer.

All these results caused by lack of omega-3 can lead to more complication than people may think. Consider this. A person is on "Standard American Diet" which is low in omega-3, filled with meat toxins and other chemicals. The liver is primary organ that neutralize toxic in the body. When white blood cell attack liver, liver's ability to do this would decline, and a person will be filled with more toxic then ever, leads to constant sleepiness, darkened skin (bad liver makes skin dark, esp. eye circles), toxic overload within the body which leads to other diseases. See how one nutritional factor can have multiple implications? This is why only try to get rid of symptoms or cure such disease with surgery is moot point.

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Omega-3 and Omega-6 Ratio

The diseases due to omega-3 deficiency are very common among Americans, since omega-3 and omega-6 ratio of average American is 1:20.

Omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) or essential oils. Essential fatty acids are necessary fats for human which body cannot synthesize, thus must be obtained through diet. Omega-9 is necessary but not as essential as 3 and 6 because the body can produce a modest amount when Omega 3 and Omega 6 are present.

Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from linolenic Acid, omega-6 from linoleic acid, and omega-9 from oleic acid. The number after the word "omega" represents the position of the first double bond in the fat, counting from the terminal methyl group in the fat molecule. For more information on this, read Wikipedia.

A primary function of EFAs is the production of prostaglandins, which regulate body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception, and immune function (by regulating inflammation reaction which is responsible for body to fight infection). Omega-3 and omega-6 compete for the same metabolic enzymes, thus the omega-6 : omega-3 ratio will significantly influence the ratio of hormones (such as prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes etc.), and will alter the body's metabolic functions.

Among these most important function of omega-3 and omega-6 is they are regulator for body's inflammation condition. Omega-3 discourages inflammation and omega-6 encourages inflammation. Inflammation is needed to fight diseases, however, too much of it damages body. Chronic inflamed body condition damages blood vessels and other cell membranes all over. This in turn causes blood clots, which in turn leads to high blood pressure.

Essential Fatty Acids are also needed for proper growth in infants and children, particularly for neural and sensory systems development and male children have higher need than females. Nursing infants get EFA supply through mother's milk, which mother gets from dietary intake. This is why mother need extra nutrition (not calories!) of everything not only during pregnancy but also during nursing period.

Omega-3 Food SourcePercentage of Omega-3 acid in the Entire Food Content.

  • Flaxseed: 18.1%
  • Pumpkin seeds: 7% – 10%
  • Butternuts: 8.7%
  • Hempseed: 8.7%
  • Walnuts: 6.3%

Omega-3 to Omega-6 Fatty Acids Ratios
  • Flax: 3:1
  • Pumpkin Seeds: 1:2
  • Canola: 1:2
  • Soybean: 1:7
  • Olive: 1:13
  • Corn oil: 1:46
  • Sunflower: (mostly Omega 6)
  • Cottonseed: (mostly Omega 6)
  • Peanut: (mostly Omega 6)
  • Grape seed oil: (mostly Omega 6)

For more comprehensive listing of omega-3 and omega-6 ratio, click here. * Most grains have omega-6 fatty acids.

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Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid)

Omega-3s are used in cell walls formation, making cell walls supple and flexible. Omega-3 also improves circulation, oxygen uptake and proper red blood cell flexibility/function.

Omega-3 deficiency leads to decreased memory, mental abilities, tingling sensation of nerves, poor vision, increased tendency to form blood clots, diminished immune function, increased triglycerides and "bad" cholesterol (LDL) levels (which leads to higher blood pressure), impaired membrane function, hypertension, irregular heart beat, learning disorders, menopausal discomfort, itchiness on the front of the lower leg(s), and growth retardation in infants, children, and pregnant women.

It should be noted that high blood pressure, irregular hear beat, menopausal discomfort, and problem with learning and mental ability is such widespread phenomena in US.

Most Common Diseases caused by Omega-3 Deficiencies

    – High cholesterol
    – High blood pressure
    – Heart disease
    – Diabetes
    – Weight loss
    – Arthritis
    – Osteoporosis
    – Depression
    – Bipolar disorder
    – Schizophrenia
    – Eating disorders
    – Burns
    – Skin disorders
    – Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
    – Asthma
    – Macular Degeneration
    – Menstrual pain
    – Colon cancer
    – Breast cancer
    – Prostate cancer

Other Diseases caused by Omega-3 Deficiencies
    – Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    – Autism
    – Ulcers
    – Migraine headaches
    – Preterm labor
    – Emphysema
    – Psoriasis
    – Glaucoma
    – Lyme disease
    – Systemic lupus erythmatosus (lupus)
    – Irregular heart beats (arrhythmias)
    – Multiple sclerosis
    – Panic attacks

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Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid)

Linoleic Acid is the primary omega-6 fatty acid. A healthy human with good nutrition will convert linoleic acid into gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which will later by synthesized, with EPA from the omega-3 group, into eicosanoids. Some Omega-6s improve diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin disorders (e.g. psoriasis and eczema), and aid in cancer treatment.

Although most Americans eat excess of linoleic acid, often it is not converted to GLA because of metabolic problems caused by diets rich in refined sugar, refined grain, alcohol, or trans-fats from processed foods, as well as smoking, pollution, stress, and other illnesses caused by eating refined sugar, refined grain, alcohol, or trans-fats from processed foods (so these things make health doubly worse!).

It is best to eliminate these in your diet. It is also important to eat in raw or cold pressed (=expeller pressed) oil. Avoid refined and hydrogenated oil.

Omega-6 Food Source

  • avocado
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • most vegetable oils
  • evening primrose oil
  • borage oil
  • blackcurrant seed oil
  • flax/linseed oil
  • rapeseed or canola oil
  • hemp oil
  • soybean oil
  • cottonseed oil
  • sunflower seed oil
  • corn oil
  • safflower oil
  • pumpkin seeds
  • acai berry

    Most grains have omega-6 fatty acids.

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Omega-9 (Oleic Acid)

Omega-9 is essential but technically not an EFA, because the human body can manufacture a limited amount, provided essential EFAs are present. Omega-9 reduces bad cholesterol, prevent excessive stomach acid, and prevent constipation.

Monounsaturated oleic acid lowers heart attack risk and arteriosclerosis, and aids in cancer prevention.

Omega-9 food sources:

  • Olive oil (extra virgin or virgin)
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame oil
  • Pecans
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts, etc.

One to two tablespoons of extra virgin or virgin olive oil per day give enough oleic acid for adults. However, the "time-released" effects of obtaining these nutrients from nuts and whole foods is more beneficial than eating from oil. Also whole nuts and whole foods contain fibers and other water soluble vitamins that are not present in oil.

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Cooking Tips

Cooking heat, light, and oxygen destroy Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), especially omega-3. So when eating foods with EFA content, try to eat in raw. Because of this, raw nuts are much better source than roasted nuts. Don't use flaxseed oil for cooking (due to very high omega-3 content) and never reuse any type of oil.

Replace partially hydrogenated fats (margarine), cholesterol-based fats (butter/dairy products), and common cooking oils with cold pressed EFA rich oils when possible. Instead of margarine or butter on vegetables, use flaxseed and/or extra virgin olive oils with salt (This tastes similar to margarine). If you really want something like butter, try fully hydrogenated margarine made from organic unrefined oil such as Earth Balance Spreads.

Sprinkling dried grinded flaxseed meal on vegetables adds a slightly nutty taste. Whole flaxseeds are usually passed through the intestine, absorbing water only and not giving much oil. Also, it's best not to use huge amounts of flaxseed, as it can cause diarrhea.

In recipes uses vegetable shortening, replacing the shortening with half as much virgin olive oil, and a very small pinch of extra salt, often yields similar results.

Replace oily snack foods, like cookies, potato chips and corn chips, with nuts and seeds. If you really crave for cookies and chips, buy these made from expeller pressed oil. Health food stores, Whole Foods, and Trader's Joe sells them.

You can also make your own cookies and chips. In using frying with little oil, soy bean oil and brown rice oil are good. In high temperature frying recipe with a lot of oil, canola, corn, and grape seed oil are good because they have lots of vitamin E which helps prevent going rancid. If the recipe calls for butter, use cold pressed (=expeller pressed) coconut oil or cold pressed palm oil.

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Optimum Amount of Fat Consumption

Vegetable oil sterol absorb bad cholesterol and very effective in preventing cancer. Daily consumption of 800mg (=0.8g) to 3g is effective in reducing cholesterol. Again, taking these oil from whole raw nuts and foods are most ideal. Also when eating oil, make sure to eat only cold pressed (=expeller pressed) oils.

For weight loss, reduce your overall fat/oil consumption. FDA’s recommended amount is 20~30 % of total calorie intake, while optimum level is around 15%, with maximum 20%. FDA recommended 20~30% because average Americans already consume 50~60% of total calorie intake as fat, so they thought 15% was too drastic reduction so they though good recommended amount was cutting half of what people are already eating.

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Characteristics of Oils by Food Source

Grape Seed Oil
Mainly produced in France, Italy, and Chille. Mostly Linolenic acid, which is source of Omega-6. Contains tocopherol and beta sitosterol which are good for skin, prevent aging, good for blood vessel, and prevent adult onset disease. The alpha linolenic acid help with skin and allergy conditions. Grape seed oil also has abundant antioxidant.

Canola Oil
Has high Omega 9 and has least saturated fat for most of other vegetable oil. It also contain alpha linoleic and oleic acid thus good for hyperlipidemia.

Canola oil is often used as a cheaper alternative to the healthier virgin olive and grape seed oils. Although canola has some linolenic content, do not buy canola oils in regular supermarket because they are most likely refined and processed with chemicals and heat, that destroy most linolenic acid. Switch to old pressed, unrefined canola oil. Cold pressed oils can be found in health food stores, Whole Foods, and Trader's Joe.

A caution about canola oil. Canola oil is derived from rape planet which is mustard family. Rapeseed oil is toxic to human. Canola oil was developed by eliminating toxic chemicals in rapeseed oil, thus creating inexpensive oil with linolenic acid. Although rapeseed oil is high in linolenic acid, it can make humans seriously ill if enough is consumed.

This oil has been illegally blended with olive oil, particularly in Europe, to lower cost of olive oil production. Olive oil cheapened with rapeseed oil has a history of severely sickening its consumers.

Also many peanut butter brands contain canola oil. If you feel itch after eating peanut butter, check the label – it may contains rapeseed oil. Unlike other oils, such as olive, flaxseed oil, and other oils which human ate for long time, canola oil's is recent oil and its long term effects are not well known.

Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seed oil is essential in oriental cooking. It has many wonderful benefits – such as prevent depression, alleviate menstrual cramps. However, when it is cooked in high temperature, it can produce carcinogenic substance such as benzopyrene.

Perilla Oil
Another essential oil in oriental cooking. Cold pressed perilla oil has rich omega-3 acid that is over 60% of its content. Aside from benefit of omega-3 acid, the rosemary acid within it has anti-oxidant, anti inflammation, and anticancer properties.

Alpha linolenic is used in production of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is essential for EPA and brain activities. Perilla oil is good for atopic dermatitis.

What make perilla oil rancid are light, heat, and metal. Unfortunately, almost all perilla oil that are sold in Asian market are produced using heat and chemicals. Perilla oils are rarity in western markets, even in health food stores. In buying perilla oil in quantities, store excess in refrigerator or freezer to prevent going rancid. Also if you mix perilla and sesame oil to 8:2 you can use it for longer time.

For vegetable dish and salad, sesame oil, perilla oil, and olive oil are good. Perilla oil is especially good because it has beta carotene which is strong antioxidant substance which is anti-cancer as well.

Flax Seed Oil
Cold pressed flax Seed oil has omega-3 acid that is over 58%. Aside from benefit of omega-3 acid, flaxseed oil prevent systemic lupus erythematosus, black circles, freckle, disease caused by ultra violet rays, women’s early mid age, and hot flush during early menopause.

One tablespoon per day of flaxseed oil provides the USDA recommended daily adult portion of linolenic acid. However, the flax seed oil does not give the "time released" effects as whole flax seed and other linolenic rich whole foods.

However, eating too much flaxseed is not good because it can cause diarrhea. Pumpkin seeds are also very rich in omega-3 acids. So for munch on as snack or using omega-3 rich nuts in moderate to large amount in a recipe raw pumpkin seeds are much better choice. In essence, it is more beneficial to eat different kinds of whole nuts, seeds, and other omega 3 rich food in whole than eat once daily of one type of oil.

Flaxseed oil should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer, and purchased from a supplier who refrigerates the liquid as well.

Unripe flaxseeds contain a natural form of cyanide, and home gardeners should be cautious if trying to grow flax. The seeds must be ripe before harvesting. If attempting to grow flax at home, consult an experienced grower.

Palm Oil
Palm oil has 45% palmitic fatty acid, 35% oleic acid, 10% linolenic acid. Saturated and unsaturated ratio is 1:1. It appear that palmitic acid which is saturated fat, so it would seem to increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and decrease HDL cholesterol. However, strangely in reality that does not happen with cold pressed palm oil.

It is very stable and suitable for fried food, and can be used as excellent butter replacement for baking cookies and pies.

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Full List of Fatty Acid Names in Food

    Unsaturated fat

    • Monounsaturated fat = palmitoleic acid (omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acid), oleic acid, cis-vaccenic acid

    • Polyunsaturated fat: Whole food sources are always best, as processing and heating may damage polyunsaturated fats – especially omega 3 fatty acid.

    • Omega fatty acids:

      • Omega 3
        • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
        • Stearidonic acid (STD)
        • Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE)
        • Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA)
        • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
        • Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, Clupanodonic acid)
        • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
        • Tetracosapentaenoic acid
        • Tetracosahexaenoic acid (Nisinic acid)

      • Omega 6
        • Linoleic acid
        • Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
        • Eicosadienoic acid
        • Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)
        • Arachidonic acid (AA)
        • Docosadienoic acid
        • Adrenic acid
        • Docosapentaenoic acid
        • Conjugated linoleic acid

      • Omega 9 (Oleic acid)

    • Trans fat = partially hydrogenated fat (Trans fats may be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated but never saturated)

    • Cis fat

  • Saturated fat = fully hydrogenated fat

    • Interesterified fat

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