Is It Time For An Oil Change?

If you’re new to paleo, you may be wondering why I’m constantly reaching for high-fat coconut or olive oil to cook with instead of a “healthy” bottle of canola oil with the cute red heart on the label… 

In my opinion canola oil, along with many other so-called vegetable oils, aren’t anywhere near as healthy as they claim to be.

For one, those refined vegetable oils lining your supermarket shelves aren’t made from vegetables – they’re actually oils that have been chemically extracted from plant seeds like rapeseed, soybeans and corn. And to make things worse, most of these plants have been genetically modified and are regularly sprayed with pesticides.

And unlike coconut oil or olive oil, vegetable oils aren’t created by simply pressing them out or separating the oil naturally.

Instead they go through a long process involving chemical extraction with the help of petroleum solvents, and then they get bleached, de-waxed, and finally deodorized because the stuff that comes out smells and tastes so bad.

And since these kind of refined oils tend to oxidize (spoil) fairly quickly, many of them get a good dose of preservatives like BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) before they’re shipped off to a grocery shelf near you.

All this to create an oil that is low in saturated fats – which of course if you’re familiar with the paleo program at all, you know saturated fats are actually good for you. Among other things, saturated fats promote healthy cell repair and hormone production.

A “sanitized” version of how canola oil is made – note the byproducts: animal feed and soap!

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So that’s why I skip the refined factory oils (as most paleo people do) and make a beeline for the more minimally processed, natural oils that are loaded with healthy nutrients for my paleo cooking and baking.

Here’s a list of the oils I use and encourage you to keep in your paleo pantry:

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(contain the most stable fats for cooking with moderate to high heat)

• Coconut Oil (organic, unrefined)
• Ghee (clarified butter)
• Lard or Bacon Fat (best if from pasture-raised and grass fed sources)


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(for salad dressings, sauces and other recipes that involve low or no heat)

• Olive Oil (organic preferred, extra virgin and cold pressed)
• Avocado Oil (organic preferred, extra virgin and cold pressed)


There are some other natural oils such as tallow (beef fat), schmaltz (chicken fat), and lamb fat which are also great sources of saturated fat – but I find the short list above suits almost all my paleo cooking and flavoring needs just fine.

So I hope this little post helps point you toward healthier oil choices for your paleo lifestyle – and away from those “heart-healthy” bottles that roll off a factory conveyor belt.

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  1. Stephanie Wernick

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