Clean Eating Oils

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Today I’d like to cover clean eating oils and talk about which ones you might want to consider having in your clean eating meal plan, and which ones you might want to consider avoiding all together.

The truth is, with just one google search, you can get about 50 different articles that completely contradict each other on the qualities of any given oil. But there are some that stand out among the crowd as being very healthy.

So in this post, I’ll give the oils I use and also which ones I avoid like the plague.

Image shows a clear glass cup with a small amount of oil-based salad dressing in it representing this information on Clean Eating Oils. Surrounding the glass are a small whisk, a larger bottle of oil and a fresh bunch of basil.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY INFORMATION ON THESE  CLEAN EATING FOODS:

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 CLEAN EATING OILS FOR COOKING:

  • Coconut oil. This oil gets a bad wrap because people wrongly assume it is unhealthy due to it’s saturated fat content. Some people also believe that coconut oil is a trans fat oil. Nothing could be further from the truth. Good quality, organic, virgin coconut oil is fantastic stuff and has a higher smoke point, so it’s great for cooking. It’s now being attributed with many healing properties, so it’s worth a try. And no, it won’t make your food taste like coconut. I think I noticed a slight coconut flavor the very first time I used it in my eggs. But after that, nothing. No coconut taste. Now I use it in everything. (Please note, I’m NOT referring to the highly processed palm oil found in many packaged junk foods) This oil is also becoming more and more widely available, which means that the price is becoming a bit more affordable. Some stores still charge shocking prices for this, but in other stores, such as Trader Joe’s, you can get a 16 oz. jar for around $5.
  • Avocado Oil. I love this oil for it’s wonderful flavor. I always use it in cold dishes and dressings but it has high smoke point, so it’s great for cooking as well. That said, it can be a little pricey for the good quality stuff.
  • Almond oil. This oil is great for cooking as well, but with our declining bee population, almond trees are not being pollinated so our crops are much smaller. That makes almond oil one to keep an eye on in the price department.

CLEAN EATING OILS FOR COLD DISHES:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There is a lot of controversy around this oil because some bigger manufacturers cut their olive oil with other, not-so-healthy oils. There are various tests you can google to see if your oil is the real stuff. But providing you have honest-to-goodness EVOO, you’re in good shape for things like salad dressings and dips. I’ve learned more recently that olive oil is not well suited for cooking as it has a lower smoke point.
  • Unrefined Walnut Oil. This oil tend to be a bit pricier than the other’s mentioned here, but it’s also excellent for cold recipes.
  • Unrefined Safflower Oil. This is a great, light-flavored oil.
  • Unrefined Sunflower Oil. This has lots of good qualities as an oil if you use it cold and you are not getting it in a packaged food.

OILS TO AVOID:

We all avoid things for personal reasons and those reasons are as different as people and lifestyles are. But some oils are just best left alone. Here are the ones I make it a point to avoid.

  • Soybean Oil. Can we say, “GMO”? (Genetically Modified and not clean.)
  • Canola Oil. This has a high smoke point, but again, the majority of our supply is a GMO.
  • Corn Oil. Same issue as Canola Oil.
  • Vegetable oil. Sounds so much healthier than it actually is!
  • Palm or palm kernel oil. This is highly processed oil.
  • Hydrogenated Oil. These oils are found in packaged goods. Avoid them like the plague.


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32 Comments

  1. My brother is in a college health class right now, and his teacher is all about canola oil being the healthiest and says coconut oil is just a fad right now. I want to know your thought on this.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Marissa – Well, not everybody eats clean. Canola oil is highly processed and a GMO. Coconut oil is not and has many health benefits. That’s my two cents anyway…

  2. I used coconut oil for the first time while making a clean version of fried rice and veggies. It really changed the flavor of my food… I did not enjoy it. I thought it tasted coconutty… I only used enough to coat the pan. Are there suggestions for certain recipes to use it in where the taste wouldn’t be as noticeable? Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Meg Juck – The first time you try it, it can be a little off-putting. But I found that after using it a few times, I stopped tasting it all together. But if it really bothers you, then it’s best used in baking.

  3. Trish @infinebalance says:

    I usually use coconut or grapeseed oil for baking and cooking. Do you know anything about grapeseed oil. I remember reading that it was less refined… and has a high smoke point,..

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Trish – I don’t know off hand, but I’ll look into it. You are not the first to ask… 🙂

  4. Great post! I used coconut oil in my food and it has no flavour (make sure its organic and cold pressed).

    I fry with olive oil which is a mix of pomace oils and is not extra virgin, although my mum fries eggs in extra virgin olive oil and it tastes fine to me.

    Can we use coconut oil to replace butter in cake recipes?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Arfa – As far as I know, it should work just fine as a sub for butter. But if you purchase organic, grass-fed sourced butter, that’s perfectly clean as well.

  5. Kate @ Coffee with Kate says:

    Great post! I love using coconut oil, but I’m also guilty of using vegetable oil very frequently. I’ll have to consider switching solely to coconut.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kate – It’s worth the switch!!

  6. I used coconut oil and love the taste even right off the spoon….grin. I add it to my oatmeal in the morning.

    I like the organic extra-virgin coconut oil. Never tried any other brands so don’t know how they would be.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      June – It’s definitely good stuff! 🙂

  7. I bought some organic coconut oil in a jar and it is solid. I made your clean eating popcorn shrimp and it calls for coconut oil. My oil is hard and doesn’t mix. So I thought I would warm it up a little to mix with the egg whites. the oil harden right back up. What am I doing wrong? or is it the oil? The shrimp was still good. Thanks, Diane

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Diane – The oil will easily harden. Were the eggs cold out of the fridge or at room temp? It can make a difference. But I do remember lumps in mine as well. As long as they turned out okay, I wouldn’t worry too much.

  8. Hi! I’m fairly new to clean eating and have found your blog so helpful! What are your thoughts on peanut oil? Thanks! 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amanda – I’ve read varying opinions on it which is why I tend to avoid it. Some people say it’s excellent stuff, other say it’s not. It’s hard to know for sure. But I think if you are going to use it, you want to look for the pure, unrefined version. That’s usually a safe bet with many oils.

  9. I’ve been told flaxseed oil is a very healthy oil to use. What are your thoughts? WOuldnt this be more of a “cold dish” oil

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Sara – I haven’t researched it, but I believe it’s a cold-dish oil. It also goes rancid very quickly, so it’s best to buy it in small amounts.

  10. Would sunflower oil be clean on popcorn? I have had “Skinny Pop Popcorn” and the only ingredients are popcorn, sunflower oil, and a little bit of salt. It says no preservatives, and Non-GMO – but I’m wondering about the sunflower oil since it’s a packaged product. Just wanted your thoughts since you know way more about this 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Chelsea – If it’s unrefined sunflower oil, it’s fine. Sunflower has a lower smoke point, so it’s not great for cooking. But it should be just fine over pop corn. Enjoy!

  11. Side note: Coconut oil is also amazing for your hair and eyelashes haha

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jackie – It’s great for a lot of things!!! 🙂

  12. Hi, Tiffany. What brand of coconut oil do you use? I had been using the Louana brand from Walmart but switched to an organic, virgin coconut oil and it tastes and smells VERY strongly of coconut. Now, while I love coconut, I’m not too keen on all my dishes tasting like it and find that I prefer the taste of the lower quality product. Is this normal for high quality oil?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Rachel – It’s hard for me to say as I’ve only ever used one brand from Trader Joe’s. I find them to have the best price. Are you sure you got coconut oil and not coconut butter?

  13. When I was working in a kitchen we worked with grape seed oil. It has a higher smoke point then olive oil, but is similar in color, taste, and consistency. Is it a clean oil!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ali – If it is unprocessed, then it’s definitely clean! I think people often get it confused with rapeseed oil. Two very different animals.

  14. Stacy Serino says:

    What about sesame oil? I’ve used it for chicken and veggies and the taste is splendid! Just wanted to make sure it’s clean.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Stacy – If it’s unprocessed oil, then it should be fine. Most will state they are unprocessed right on the bottle.

  15. LowGLBlogger says:

    Would you mind if I linked your page on oils to my clean eating blog? I had a similar one planned but thought this would be even better! Thanks

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      LowGLBlogger – As long as it’s just a link, that’s perfectly fine. Thanks for asking! 😀

  16. Tiffany hi , I bought some Black seed oil . Upon tasting it my mouth became very hot and it remained that way for about 5 hrs. – I suspect that the seeds were GMO. how ever I want to detox The oil.
    Is there a way. Also I use corn oil for cooking purposes. Give me an alternative. Thanks ☺️

    1. Nawab – I’m not a medical professional, so I wouldn’t even know how to guess what that reaction was.
      There are many ways to detox, but the body is pretty good at detoxing things all by itself if you eat healthy, drink enough water and get some exercise in regularly.

      As for alternative oils, I personally cook with coconut oil and love it. Grapeseed is good too. Depends on what you want to use it for. Whether you need an oil with a low smoke point (cold oils for things like salad dressings) or a high smoke point (for things like frying and sautéing.).

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