Which Fat For Which Purpose

Olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, pumpkin seed oil, linseed oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, or better hemp oil? Every supermarket has countless oils and fats to choose from, so it is easy to lose track. We explain which oil and which grease is best suited for which purpose.

Vegetable oils and fats – which fat for which purpose

Since we recommend plant-based nutrition, the focus here is on vegetable oils and fats and their application areas. Because every oil and every fat should only be used in a targeted manner. On the other hand, if you use oils for the wrong purpose, they can quickly become unhealthy.

Oils and fats for cold cooking that must not be heated:

  • linseed oil
  • safflower oil
  • hemp oil
  • walnut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • pumpkin seed oil
  • Sesame Oil (from roasted sesame)
  • wheat germ oil
  • Butter (allow to melt as much as possible, but do not use for frying)

Oils and fats that may be slightly heated (for steaming or gentle frying):

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • almond oil
  • rapeseed oil
  • peanut oil

Oils and fats for roasting and deep-frying:

  • Coconut oil (coconut fat is refined coconut oil)
  • Palm oil (palm fat is refined palm oil)
  • ghee
  • lard
  • High-oleic sunflower oil (frying oil)
  • Oils are liquid, fats are solid

The difference between oils and fats is quickly explained: Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, e.g. B. olive oil or linseed oil. Fats, on the other hand, are solid, e.g. B. palm fat or beef fat.

Coconut fat or coconut oil is a special case. Because high-quality, i.e. native and unrefined coconut oil is liquid from about 23 degrees, if the temperature is lower, then it becomes solid. Nevertheless, the solid coconut oil is not referred to as coconut fat. Coconut fat is more the term for the inferior, refined and deodorized plate fat, which does not become liquid even at higher room temperatures.

Oils and fats are no longer wholesome

High-quality vegetable oils and fats are always listed as important components of whole foods. But they themselves are basically no longer whole foods.

Oils and fats were extracted from a nut, from oilseeds, fatty fruits or other fatty foods. What remains is the so-called press cake, which contains all the roughage, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and a large proportion of the vitamins of the original fruit.

Only some of the fat-soluble vitamins make their way into fats and oils. Otherwise, vegetable fats and oils consist of almost 100 percent fat. So they are isolated pure fats.

Fat-soluble vitamins in oils and fats

Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Keep in mind that nutritional values ​​vary, especially with oils. Even within one and the same type of oil, there can be major differences depending on the origin, harvest time, variety, batch, etc. The following values ​​can therefore only give a rough guide.

Vitamin A

The vitamin A requirement is given as 1000 µg. Below are some oils and their vitamin A content per 100g (including the vitamin A that can be made in the body from beta-carotene):

  • Olive oil: 157 mcg
  • Sunflower oil: 4 µg
  • Walnut oil: 0 mcg
  • Linseed oil: 0 µg
  • Wheat germ oil: 0 µg
  • Pumpkin seed oil: 0 µg
  • Coconut oil: 0 mcg
  • Rapeseed oil: 550 mcg
  • Grape seed oil: 0 mcg

So you can see that only a few oils contain relevant amounts of vitamin A. Also keep in mind that oils are only consumed in small amounts, so that 1 tablespoon of olive oil provides just 15.7 µg of vitamin A and thus only 1.5% of the daily requirement.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not found in vegetable oils and fats. The vitamin is also rarely found in animal fats. Not at all in beef tallow and lard, in shark oil only about 36 IU per 100 g, which is not worth mentioning with a minimum requirement of 1000 IU.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the only vitamin found in significant amounts in some oils and fats. The vitamin E requirement is officially around 12 to 15 mg per day. Below are some oils and their vitamin E content per 100 g:

  • Olive oil: 12 mg
  • Sunflower Oil: 62 mg
  • Walnut oil: 3.2 mg
  • Linseed oil: 5.8 µg
  • Wheat Germ Oil: 174 mg
  • Pumpkin seed oil: 3.5 mg
  • Coconut Oil: 2.1 mg
  • Canola oil: 22.8 mg
  • Grapeseed Oil: 32 mg

Now, you could take 1 tablespoon (10 g) of wheat germ oil daily to meet your vitamin E needs. But that is not necessary. Because many other foods also provide vitamin E and many other vital substances, so that you certainly do not have to eat isolated oils just because of the vitamin E. So it would e.g. For example, it is sufficient to eat 50 g of almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds daily to cover the vitamin E requirement.

Moringa powder is a very natural and almost fat-free dietary supplement when it comes to vitamin E. It contains 11.3 mg of vitamin E per 10 g and can therefore almost cover the daily requirement in this relatively small amount.

Vitamin E can be lost when heated, so you should avoid heating vitamin E-rich oils, at least not if you want to benefit from the vitamin E they contain.

Vitamin k

The vitamin K requirement is officially around 70 µg, but in reality it should be significantly higher. Below are some oils and their vitamin K content per 100 g:

  • Olive oil: 50 mcg
  • Sunflower oil: 6 mcg
  • Walnut oil: 15 mcg
  • Linseed oil: 25 µg
  • Wheat germ oil: 24 mcg
  • Pumpkin seed oil: 112 mcg
  • Coconut oil: 10 mcg
  • Rapeseed oil: 150 mcg
  • Grape seed oil: 280 mcg

Even if some values seem high here, it is also true for vitamin K that oils are only consumed in small amounts.

Essential fatty acids in oils and fats

However, oils and fats are mostly used not because of their vitamins, but rather because of the essential fatty acids. Essential means necessary for life, which means that the human body cannot produce these fatty acids itself, so it has to get them from food.

These primarily include linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Both fatty acids belong to the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids – and both should ideally be taken in a certain ratio to each other. The ratio in the individual oil is less important than the ratio of the overall nutrition.

So you can easily use an oil with a less good ratio if you compensate sooner or later.

The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio

The general recommendations for a good omega-6:omega-3 ratio vary between 1:1 and 5:1 (omega 6:omega 3). Since today’s diet often contains much more linoleic acid than ALA (7 : 1 to 50 : 1), linoleic acid is almost demonized in some places, which of course doesn’t make sense, because it’s all about not too much linoleic acid and at the same time consuming little ALA, but striving for a balanced ratio, which would result in each fatty acid being able to do its job perfectly.

The omega-6 fatty acids linoleic acid and arachidonic acid

The bad reputation of linoleic acid resulted from the fact that arachidonic acid can form in the organism from linoleic acid. This is considered (if present in excess) as an inflammatory fatty acid. It is therefore not ideal if you want to prevent or alleviate chronic diseases, because chronic diseases are almost always accompanied by chronic inflammatory processes.

However, the arachidonic acid is also contained directly in animal fats (lard, liver, eggs, fish), so it does not even have to be converted from there first, so that of course the animal foods consumed must also be taken into account when trying to get a balanced omega-6 want to achieve an omega-3 ratio.

However, arachidonic acid is not fundamentally bad either and should therefore by no means be completely avoided. On the contrary. Inflammatory processes are very important for initiating healing processes and for the immune system. In addition, arachidonic acid is an important fatty acid for healthy brain functions.

The main task of linoleic acid in the body, on the other hand, is skin protection. It is part of the epidermis (top layer of skin) and helps the skin to protect itself from external influences and to regulate its water balance.

Conclusion: Both fatty acids are good and vital. They should only be supplied in a reasonably balanced ratio to the omega-3 fatty acids.

The omega table of the most important oils and fats

Below you will find the total omega content in percent (second column) for some of the most important oils and fats, i.e. the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids added together. In the third column you will find the omega-6-omega-3 ratio, which indicates the ratio of the two fatty acids.

Example of linseed oil: its total omega content makes up 70 percent. These 70 g of omega fatty acids per 100 g of linseed oil consist of 1 part omega-6 fatty acids (17.5 g linoleic acid) and 3 parts omega-3 fatty acids (52.5 g ALA). The rest of the oil consists of the other fatty acids, i.e. the monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids.

Oils and fats to cover the need for essential fatty acids

Now we just need to know how much Linoleic Acid we need and how much ALA we need to be able to choose the right oils in the right amounts.

That’s how high the need for essential fatty acids is

Officially (DGE, German Society for Nutrition), the requirement of an adult for linoleic acid is given as 2.5 grams per day, the requirement for alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) at 0.5 grams. Here (meet the omega-3 requirement vegan) we explained that researchers now recommend 1.5 to 2 grams of ALA per day if you are not consuming long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA).

ALA is a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid. While it can be converted to the two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, there are many factors that make this conversion difficult (including a high omega-6 diet).

Therefore, the intake of EPA and DHA or a correspondingly high ALA intake is also recommended. The requirement for EPA and DHA for adults is between 0.3 and 0.8 grams per day.

In summary, the requirement for essential fatty acids for adults is:

  • Linoleic Acid – 2.5 grams
  • ALA – 0.5 to 2 grams
  • EPA/DHA – 0.3 to 0.8 grams

1 tablespoon of linseed oil covers the need for essential fatty acids

With 1 tablespoon of linseed oil (10 g) you are already taking in 1.75 g of linoleic acid and 5.25 g of ALA. Since other foods (grain products, soy products, nuts, nut butter, dairy products, meat, etc.) provide enough linoleic acid, you would have covered your need for linoleic acid and ALA with just 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil.

Depending on your personal conversion rate, it may still be necessary to take an EPA/DHA supplement, e.g. B. Algae oil capsules (the plant-based alternative to fish oil capsules).

For details on how to meet your omega-3 needs, see the link above: Meeting your vegan omega-3 needs, which also includes a sample meal plan.

Alternatively: 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

Assuming you don’t like flaxseed oil and would rather use rapeseed oil and olive oil, then with 1 tablespoon each of 10 g you would get 3.15 grams of linoleic acid and 1.35 grams of ALA and would also be well supplied in terms of these two fatty acids.

So you can see that you can already cover your fatty acid requirements with a small amount of fat. A few drops are also sufficient for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins or basically the consumption of fatty foods, such as e.g. B. Nuts or avocados with the salad.

Oils and fats in the kitchen

However, oils and fats are not only consumed to meet some nutrient or vitamin requirement, but also because oils and fats make many dishes tastier. Since every oil and every fat has its own individual sensitivity to heat depending on its fatty acid composition, you cannot use every oil for every purpose.

Liquid oils that are always liquid

Oils that remain liquid in any case, even if you put them in the fridge, e.g. B. linseed oil, safflower oil, hemp oil, sunflower oil or similar consist largely of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These oils should not be heated, otherwise some of the fatty acids would be broken down and harmful substances (e.g. peroxides) would also develop.

An exception is the oleic acid-rich sunflower oil, which is often sold as frying oil. This oil (produced from a sunflower variety rich in oleic acid) consists of only a small proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids and instead – similar to olive oil – a high proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid = monounsaturated fatty acid).

Liquid oils that solidify when cooled

Oils that are liquid at room temperature but become viscous or thicken or flocculate in the refrigerator, e.g. B. the olive oil, the avocado oil, the almond oil or the oleic acid-rich sunflower oil consist to a large extent of monounsaturated fatty acids.

They can be gently heated and also used for gentle frying, although of course some oils – such as native olive oil or almond oil – are much too good for frying and should only be used for raw vegetables.

Solid oils (= fats)

Oils or fats that are solid, i.e. both in the fridge and outside (butter, coconut oil, palm oil, ghee, lard), consist mainly of saturated fatty acids.

Coconut oil is an exception. Although it also consists largely of saturated fatty acids, since its saturated fatty acids are mainly medium-chain saturated fatty acids, it becomes liquid again at room temperature in summer (from 25 degrees).

Solid fats can be used well for heating, for baking, for searing and deep-frying – with butter being the exception. It can be used for baking, but because of its water content it would splatter when frying in the pan and because of its residual protein content it would also burn.

Ghee, the Ayurvedic butter, is free of water and proteins and can therefore also be used for frying – although of course neither butter nor ghee belong in the vegan diet.

However, in a healthy diet, roasting should not be done that often. In fact, searing is completely superfluous, as is deep-frying.

Always avoid trans fats

Fats with trans fatty acids should be avoided in any case, because all experts – regardless of their specialty – consider these fatty acids to be harmful to health even in small quantities (deteriorate blood lipid levels, promote insulin resistance and have an inflammatory effect). For every 2 percent of your daily caloric intake that comes from trans fats, your risk of heart disease increases by 23 percent, according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Trans fatty acids are formed exclusively from polyunsaturated fatty acids if these are either (repeatedly) heated or subjected to industrial processing. They are found in particular in finished products such as fatty baked goods (croissants, donuts, pastries, pastries, etc.), fatty confectionery containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and in fast food baked in frying fat.

Which oil or fat for which purpose: an overview

Below you will find a brief overview that presents the ideal place of use for the best oils and fats. We recommend buying oils and fats in native organic quality, preferably directly from an appropriate mill. However, we advise against refined oils from the supermarket.

Always store your oils away from light, either in the refrigerator or in a dark cupboard. Do not leave the bottles lying around in the kitchen after use, clean them up immediately.

Also, remember that you don’t have to have every exotic oil in your home. A selection of two or three oils/fats is often sufficient. In this way you can also use up the few oils more quickly:

Coconut oil and ghee can be heated to high temperatures. They can be used for cooking, roasting, baking and frying.

High oleic sunflower oil can also be heated quite high and used for frying.

Organic butter or raw milk butter taste very good on bread in the non-vegan diet. Organic butter can also be used in baking. Raw milk butter would of course be too good for that.

Extra virgin olive oil tastes wonderful in salads or can be used to gently sear e.g. B. onions or vegetables can be used. Olive oil can also be salted a little and spread on bread after an hour in the freezer as a kind of butter.

Due to the high content of monounsaturated fatty acids, rapeseed oil can also be used for gentle heating, but of course it also goes well with raw vegetables.

Linseed oil, hemp oil and walnut oil are used exclusively for raw vegetables. They must not be heated. Due to their susceptibility to oxidation, they should also only be bought in small bottles, stored in a cool and dark place and used quickly – within a few weeks.

Wheat germ oil should also only be used for raw foods and is one of the best sources of vitamin E. In any case, choose organic quality from cold pressing, as the oil is also available from hot pressing or – to achieve a higher yield – it can also be obtained with the help of chemical extraction agents. This oil should also be stored carefully (in a cool and dark place) and used up within a few weeks after opening.

Omega-6-rich oils should be used sparingly, if at all. These include sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, corn oil and others. These oils are often sold in the supermarket at dumping prices in a refined, i.e. industrially processed, form. These oils do not fit into the vital food diet, for which the highest quality foods are selected.

If you want to use omega-6-rich oils or foods, then make sure you balance them with omega-3-rich oils (linseed oil, hemp oil, walnut oil) or take algae oil capsules (e.g. Omega-3-forte from effective nature).

Pumpkin seed oil is an exception among the omega-6-rich oils, as it can be used more as a naturopathic remedy, e.g. B. for prostate problems or hair loss. It should only be used in the raw food kitchen and goes well with e.g. B. with carrot salad or lamb’s lettuce.

Peanut oil can be used for cooking due to a fairly high content of monounsaturated fatty acids. However, since it also consists of 30 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids, it should not be heated too high. Refined peanut oil is often presented as the ideal frying oil, but it is no longer a natural oil. Native peanut oil can also be used to care for the skin of eczema.

Although sesame oil is often used in traditional Asian or oriental cuisine for frying and deep-frying, if you have bought a natural, virgin sesame oil from cold pressing, it is better to only use it for seasoning, i.e. only add it to the food after cooking or from the outset only use in the raw food kitchen. At 45 percent, the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids is far too high to be used as frying or cooking oil.

Whatever fats you use, remember, when it comes to fats and oils, less is always more. However, a low-fat diet does not mean any restrictions in terms of enjoyment. On the contrary: If you avoid unhealthy, high-fat ready-made products, you save so much fat with this setting that you can use healthy fats and oils in your kitchen without this penib having to measure.

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Written by Micah Stanley

Hi, I'm Micah. I am a creative Expert Freelance Dietitian Nutritionist with years of experience in counseling, recipe creation, nutrition, and content writing, product development.

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