Oil health benefit of oils, fatty acids, fats, and lipids, along with safety and risks
Aging and longevity

July 17 2019 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Oils are crucial for optimal health and metabolism. The types of oils one should ideally consume is a matter of unending scientific debate. Over the past few decades, all kinds of theories have been proposed regarding the ideal dietary intake of various oils. However, no consensus exists in the medical community regarding which to consume, and in what quantities. My opinion is to include a variety in the diet, in moderation, with particular emphasis on omega3 fatty acids found in fish oils.
   The omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have had a major impact on thinking in medicine. The parent fatty acid in the omega 3 fatty acid family is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is an essential fatty acid found in high concentrations in certain plant oils, such as flaxseed oil, walnut oil and canola oil. Several longer chain or derived omega 3 fatty acids are formed from alpha-linolenic acid, such as EPA and DHA, and these are mainly found in fish, fish oils and from other marine organisms. You can also find interesting information on essential oils.

Oil consumption and aging, longevity, longer life
Lipids. 2007. Dietary lipids impacts on healthy ageing. Healthy ageing is gaining attention in the lipid nutrition field. As in vivo biomarkers of healthy ageing, we have evaluated the survival, learning/memory performance, and physical potencies in rodents fed a diet supplemented with high-linoleic acid (LNA, omega6) safflower oil or high-alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, omega3) perilla oil for long periods. The results suggested that perilla oil with a low omega6/omega3 ratio is beneficial for healthy ageing. In order to address this issue further, we determined the survival of stroke-prone SHR (SHRSP) rats fed a conventional rodent diet supplemented with 10% fat or oil. Survival was longer with omega3-rich oils compared with omega6-rich oils. However, some kinds of vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils shortened the survival of SHRSP rats to an unusual degree (ca. 40% compared with that of omega6-rich oil) that could not be accounted for by the fatty acid and phytosterol composition of the oils. The observed decrease in platelet counts was associated with pathological changes in the kidney and other organs. Dihydro-vitamin K1 is proposed as a likely candidate as a stroke-stimulating factor in hydrogenated oils. Thus, factors other than fatty acids (omega6/omega3 balance) and phytosterols must be taken into account when fats and oils are evaluated in relation to healthy ageing.

Almond oil
A study was conducted to compare the effects of whole-almond vs. almond oil consumption on plasma lipids and LDL oxidation in healthy men and women. Twenty-two normolipemic men and women replaced half of their habitual fat (approximately 14% of approximately 29% energy) with either whole almonds or almond oil for a 6 week periods Fat replacement with either whole almonds and and almond oil resulted in a 54% increase in percentage of energy as MUFA (mono unsaturated fatty acids) with declines in both saturated fat and cholesterol intake and no significant changes in total energy, total or polyunsaturated fat intake. The effects of whole almonds and almond oil on plasma lipids did not differ compared with baseline; plasma triglyceride, total and LDL cholesterol significantly decreased, 14, 4 and 6% respectively, whereas HDL cholesterol increased 6%. In conclusion, whole almonds and almond oil do not differ in their beneficial effects on the plasma lipid variables measured. J Nutr. 2002 Apr;132(4):703-7.

Avocado oil
Avocados are thought by the general public to be fattening and therefore many people have been told to avoid avocados in energy-restricted diets. Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids. In one study, the consumption of 200 grams a day of avocado within an energy-restricted diet did not compromise weight loss when substituted for 30 grams of mixed dietary fat. Serum lipid concentrations, plasma fibrinogen, arterial compliance, and systolic and diastolic blood pressures were not affected by weight loss or avocado intake. Nutrition. 2005.

Borage oil is often sold as a supplement.

Canola oil began to be marketed in the 1980s as a vegetable oil for use in salads and for cooking. Canola oil contains about 55 % of the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, 25% linoleic acid, and 10% alpha-linolenate [polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)], and only 4% saturated fatty acids. Canola oil is expressed from a cultivar of rapeseed that was selectively bred to be very low in erucic acid -- a fatty acid suspected to have pathogenic potential in diets high in the original rapeseed oil in experimental animals.

Q. I love mayonnaise. I have read that soybean oil is bad and that canola oil is better. (Mayonnaise made with only olive oil does not taste good to me.). How about omega 3 and omega 6? And methods of extraction? Should I just do without mayonnaise altogether?
   A. Small amounts of mayonnaise intake is fine as long as there is enough omega-3 oil intake in the diet.

Coconut oil
There's been a lot of hype regarding
coconut oil. I think coconut oil probably has some health benefits, but so do many types of other oils, including fish oils and flax seed oil. Therefore, it is okay to add it to your diet, but don't overdo it.
   Coconut oil is a great tasting cooking oil. It has a higher amount of medium-chain triglycerides (MTC's), than some other oils.

Corn oil
Fatty acid composition of dietary fat, primarily the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, has shown profound effect on colon tumor development in animal studies. Oils containing omega-6 fatty acids (for example, corn oil) enhance and omega-3 fatty acids (for example, fish oil and mustard oil) reduce chemically induced colon tumors in rats.

2007 - Manufacturers of corn oil and foods containing the fat can now promote their products as a way to possibly reduce the risk of heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration, responding to a request from ACH Food Companies Inc., said there was enough evidence to support such a qualified claim, as long as consumers were not misled. ACH Food Companies, a division of Associated British Foods, asked the agency last year to allow corn oil and related products to carry the heart benefits claim. Its products include Mazola corn oil, Karo light corn syrup and Argo corn starch.
   Dr. Sahelian comments: I am not convinced that the claim that corn oil reduces heart disease. There are hundreds of different oils, and it may be better to have a variety of different oils as opposed to focusing on a few. This claim appears to be given to a large conglomerate since they know how to manipulate the system. Why not have the same claim be allowed for flax oil or hemp oil?

Echium oil is a rich source of GLA.

Emu oil appears to have anti-inflammatory activity when used topically.

Fish oils are my favorite form of therapeutic oil. I notice visual enhancement after taking a few fish oil capsules several days in a row.

Flaxseed oil has many health benefits. Some people notice having more energy and mild mood improvement.



Mustard oil is one of the first spices known to humans.

Olive oil benefit
Seventy-five  percent of the fatty acids that make up olive oil come from monounsaturated fat, and only 13 percent from saturated fat. Olive oil may offer several health advantages over more polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Monounsaturated oils seem to cause less production of the bile acids in the digestive tract that promote colon cancer development. Because monounsaturated fat is more stable than polyunsaturated fat, it is less likely to generate the free radicals that create harmful blood cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or “LDL”). LDL damages blood vessels. Many of olive oil’s health benefits may actually come from the more than 30 plant compounds it contains. These compounds’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects promote heart health and may protect against cancer. Olive leaf extract is sold as a supplement. To get the highest levels of the protective plant compounds in olive oil, choose “extra virgin” and preferably organic. Store the olive oil away from light and heat to maintain the phytochemical content. Also, it is preferable to purchase an opaque or dark olive oil bottle to minimize exposure to light.
    Olive oil and cancer reduction - People who use plenty of olive oil in their diets may be helping to prevent damage to body cells that can eventually lead to cancer. Dr. Henrik E. Poulsen, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark included healthy men between the ages of 20 and 60 from five European countries. For two weeks, the men consumed a quarter cup of olive oil throughout each day. At the end of the study, they showed an average 13 percent reduction in a substance called 8oxodG, which is a marker of oxidative damage to cells' DNA. Such damage occurs when byproducts of metabolism called reactive oxygen species overwhelm the body's antioxidant defenses. Olive oil contains a number of compounds, called phenols, believed to act as powerful antioxidants. However, those compounds didn't seem to account for the drop in DNA oxidative damage. The men in the study used three different olive oils with varying levels of antioxidant phenols, and oxidative damage declined regardless of the phenol content. Instead, the researchers suspect that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil are behind the effect. The findings, they say, suggest that olive oil may be part of the reason that certain cancers, including breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers, are less common in Mediterranean countries than in Northern Europe. However, the Mediterranean diet is also rish in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. The FASEB Journal, 2007.

Certain micronutrients contained in olive oil and other foods could be responsible for the Mediterranean diet's well known heart-healthy effects. These compounds, known as phenols, have been shown in laboratory studies to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blood clot preventing powers. The intake of food high in phenols compounds could improve cardiovascular health and protect the hear. Researchers compared the effect of consuming phenol-rich olive oil or olive oil with most of its phenol content removed in a group of 21 volunteers with high cholesterol. They measured the ability of the study participants' blood vessels to respond to rapid changes in blood flow after they had consumed a relatively high-fat meal containing either type. Blood vessels have been shown to function poorly after a high-fat meal. Blood vessel response and function was improved for the first four hours after the high-phenol olive oil meal, but there was no difference in blood vessel function before and after volunteers ate the low-phenol olive oil meal. The researchers also found increased levels of the blood vessel dilating molecule nitric oxide and reduced levels of oxidative stress after consumption of the high-phenol meal. Those labeled "virgin" or "extra virgin," which have the highest phenol content.

Palm oil is different from other plant and animal oils in that it contains 50% saturated fatty acids, 40% unsaturated fatty acids, and 10% polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Peanut oil benefit

Pumpkin seed oil is available as a supplement and often prescribed for prostate enlargement although studies do not consistently show a benefit.

Rapeseed oil (Brassica)

Sesame oil benefit

Sacha inchi oil
See this web page for more information, sacha inchi oil.

Safflower oil
I reviewed a recent study (Am J Clin Nutr 2009). I was wondering if you have reviewed the study and if similar results could be expected for other than obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes? In other words, would safflower oil reduce belly fat on all obese people?
    A. I would like to see a few more studies regarding the role of this oil in terms of weight loss before being convinced that it is effective. It is difficult to predict the results on people with different ages or medical conditions.

We compared the effects of 2 dietary oils, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and safflower oil (SAF), on body weight and composition in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. This was a 36-wk randomized, double-masked, crossover study. Fifty-five obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes received SAF or CLA (8 grams oil/d) during two 16-week diet periods separated by a 4-wk washout period. Thirty-five women completed the 36-wk intervention. Supplementation with CLA reduced body mass index (BMI) and total adipose mass without altering lean mass. The effect of CLA in lowering BMI was detected during the last 8 week of each 16-wk diet period. In contrast, SAF had no effect on BMI or total adipose mass but reduced trunk adipose mass and increased lean mass. SAF also significantly lowered fasting glucose and increased adiponectin. No differences were observed in dietary energy intake, total fat intake, and fat quality in either diet period for either intervention. Supplementation with CLA and SAF exerted different effects on BMI, total and trunk adipose mass, and lean tissue mass in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Supplementation with these dietary oils may be beneficial for weight loss, glycemic control, or both. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2009.

Soybean Oil
Q. I have been using Vitamin E as a natural preservative for soya oil to prevent rancidity when baking cookies....this is not working very well---I suspect that vitamin E is a weak anti-oxidant and can be quickly replaced by oxygen......can you suggest something I could use to keep the quality of the soya oil intact over a long period of time.
   A. We are not sure what you mean by it is not working. Vitamin E is helpful if preserving oil integrity. Since cooking is not our forte, we can't think offhand what else to use. Perhaps alpha lipoic acid?

Sunflower seed oil

Tamanu has been used traditionally as a local medicine for many different purposes.

Walnut Oil

Wheat germ Oil
Now Foods, Wheat Germ Oil, 1130 mg, 100 Softgels is a product available for sale.

Mussel versus flaxseed oil and tuna oil
A comparison between the composition of the oil derived from the New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel (Lyprinol) and two other oils rich in omega 3 fatty acids, namely flaxseed oil and tuna oil. The main lipid classes in Lyprinol are sterol esters, triglycerides, free fatty acids, sterols and phospholipids while triglycerides are the main lipids in the other two oils. The main omega 3 fatty acids in Lyprinol is EPA and DHA, while in flaxseed oil and tuna oil the main omega 3 fatty acids are ALA and DHA, respectively. The main sterols in Lyprinol are cholesterol and desmosterol / brassicasterol, while in flaxseed oil and tuna oil the main sterols are beta-sitosterol and cholesterol, respectively.

Toxic Oil Syndrome
Rapeseed oil denatured with aniline was the vehicle of the causal agent of the toxic oil syndrome epidemic that occurred in Spain in 1981. Although the precise causal agent remains unknown, researchers established that increasing concentrations of oleyl anilide and other fatty acid anilides were associated with an increased risk for disease. The only toxic oil linked to a specific refinery was that associated with rapeseed oil from the ITH refinery in Seville, and the epidemic began shortly after this oil was delivered to RAELCA for retail sale. Oil refined by ITH and distributed by RAELCA was the principal, and probably the only, oil responsible for the toxic oil syndrome epidemic.

Potato chips and cooking oil
Half of British children have a pack-a-day potato chips habit and are consuming the equivalent of five liters of cooking oil a year. A typical 35 gram (1.2 ounce) packet of potato chips contains 2.5 teaspoons of oil. One in five children ate potato chips twice a day or more.

I have recently discovered your website while seeking information on the health benefits of various oils in the diet. May I thank you for putting this very useful resource on the web. I have found it invaluable in offering both broad and unbiased information.


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