T Nation

Questions about Oils and Fats


1) would it generally be better to use butter than safflower, sunflower, corn oil or soybean oil if that's the choice. What is butter's profile with regard to Omega's

2) What is the problem with the high oleic oils? I'd never heard of them, but oleic acid was a recommended BB supp in the 90s. Also isn't it a medium chain fatty acid? I heard that oleic, and also rapeseed oil compete with longer fatty acids for enzymes and keep the real long chain fatty acids from building up.

3) I assume its bad, but what does corn oil look like in the stats?

4) Where do you buy the more exotic oils like walnut or red palm?

5) I got an Omega 3 supplement once that was some kind of seed oil? Flaxseed oil! how is flax oil? Also, can you cook with it and has anyone looked at a fish oil that can be used for cooking with? Is flax oil any good compared to fish oil?

6) Lastly, I read that a hydrogenated oil is necessarily trans. Is that true? Since hydrogenation actually changes double bonds to single bonds it should not create any trans states that weren't present in the original oil, and of course full hydrogenation (saturated) means that there can't be any trans situation. My guess is that the hydrogenation process also may cause some trans states.


Coconut oil. That's all you need.


Butter and omegas???

You need to get educated and learn to look things up for yourself.


I am looking it up on a fucking interactive source, retard, and of which you are an unuseful part.

I took graduate biochemistry and exercise physiology and taught chemistry for 12 years and have read dozens of books on the topic. There are experts on this site who specialize in this kind of nutritional knowledge. It is probably the only place where you might be able to get an answer to that question because it is chemically complicated.

You see, about 35% of the fatty acids in butter are unsaturated. Of those, a small percentage are omega-6 and omega-3-6 fatty acids. I am not concerned with it being a good source of omega-3's but rather being in balance for omega-3 and omega-6. That's why I asked for its omega profile.

I know that it has about a 2:1 ratio of linolenic and linoleic acid. What I can not find is the PROPORTION of alpha to gamma linoleic acid which I would need to find to get the overall ratio.

Why don't you mind telling us all what is the proportion of alpha to gamma linoleic acid in butter.




Is coconut oil good because the saturated fatty acids are not long chain? Also cocobut milk with nothing added has about 50 cals a cup, and mostly from fat. Would those fats be coconut oil?


John Meadows covered some of this recently in a T-Nation article.

Here is an excerpt that answers at least one of your questions:

"These oils weren't allowed to participate due to their horrendous omega 6 to 3 ratio. Do NOT consume these oils."

Oil Omega 6 to 3 ratio
Safflower oil 78 to 1
Sunflower oil 69 to 1
Corn oil 59 to 1
Peanut oil 34 to 1
Pistachio oil 31 to 1
Soybean oil 11 to 1
Sesame oil 45 to 1


1) would it generally be better to use butter than safflower, sunflower, corn oil or soybean oil if that's the choice?

Safflower, sunflower, corn oil, and soybean oil are all poor alternatives, each for different reasons. The best choices are coconut oil and olive oil.

What is butter's profile with regard to Omegas?

Butter is a saturated fat. There is very little Omega 3 in regular supermarket butter. Organic butter from grass fed cattle is better for Omega 3 but coconut oil for low temperature cooking is a better option.

2) What is the problem with the high oleic oils? I'd never heard of them, but oleic acid was a recommended BB supp in the 90s. Also isn't it a medium chain fatty acid? I heard that oleic, and also rapeseed oil compete with longer fatty acids for enzymes and keep the real long chain fatty acids from building up.

Rapeseed oil has been genetically modified and is now sold as Canola oil.
from whfoods.com:

"What are Fats?

Fats are probably the most complex of the macromolecules in foods because there are so many different types of fats. Unfortunately, fats have been given a bad reputation, in part because fat is the way we store excess calories, and in part because saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol have been associated with health conditions like cardiovascular disease and obesity. The facts are, however, that not only are all fats not bad, but some fats have been shown to be health-promoting, and some fats are absolutely essential for your health. So, when you think about fats, the quality of the fat, and therefore the quality of the food from which you are getting the fat, really matters.
Fats, which are also referred to as lipids, are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen like the other macromolecules, but fats are designed in a structure that makes them insoluble in water. We call this hydrophobic (hydro=water; phobic=hating). Fats are chemically described as either unsaturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. The saturated fats are straight molecules that form solids at room temperature, such as butter and the fats found in meat. Monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, are liquids at room temperature but form solids in the refrigerator. Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in high amounts in oils from grains and seeds, such as flaxseed oil, are liquid at room temperature and remain liquid even when cooled.

This different physical property of fats is one reason your body uses so many different types. One extremely important role of fats is as a major component of all the membranes in your cells. You cell membranes contain all of these different kinds of fats -- unsaturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated -- however, they are needed in different amounts. Your cells primarily need polyunsaturated fats along with some monounsaturated fat to keep your membranes, and therefore your cells, flexible and moveable. When levels of saturated fat are too high, cell membranes become inflexible and don't function well, so they can't protect the internal parts of the cell, such as its DNA, as well.

Saturated Fats and the Controversy of the "Bad" Fat

More than 50 years ago, data linking consumption of saturated fats to elevated blood cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, and then to a higher risk of heart disease first became apparent in the literature. As regulatory agencies and scientists continually found this association, food companies became prompted to come up with no-saturated fat alternatives. No-fat foods, low-fat foods, and foods with substituted fats have appeared in ample quantities on grocery store shelves. In fact, over 15,000 such products have been promoted over the past several decades.

Excessive consumption of saturated fats can negatively affect your health since the fat you eat in your diet gets directly into your cell membranes. This valid concern about saturated fats has been generalized to all fats, however, and your body needs other fats. Saturated fats are primarily found in high amounts in processed foods and meat products, in particular the meats that have white, solid fat on them. In addition, the fats found in meat fats also include cholesterol, so diets high in fatty meat are also high in cholesterol.

Minimizing the consumption of saturated fats is a good idea, but minimizing the consumption of all fats is not. Consider that your brain is approximately 70 percent fat. In addition, diets low in all types of fats have been associated with increased risk of hormone abnormalities, cardiovascular disease, and decreased brain and immune function. So, the real question is not how to indiscriminately avoid all fats, but which fats, in which amounts are good for you?

The Health Promoting Fats: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats caught the attention of research scientists after they first noticed that people who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disese, certain types of cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Traditional Mediterranean diets contain high amounts of olive oil, which is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. Other monounsaturated fats include myristoleic and palmitoleic acids. In addition to olive oil, other food sources for monounsaturated fatty acids include canola oil, avocadoes, almonds, and cashews.

Research continues to support the theory that diets high in monounsaturated fats are health-promoting; however, the most exciting latest research revolves around the polyunsaturated fats, in particular, the omega-3 fatty acids.

The Health Promoting Polyunsaturated Fats

The polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are molecules that contain many unsaturated bonds, a characteristic which distinguishes them chemically from the other fats. In practical terms, this chemical structure is the reason these fats are liquid even when cold. Many different polyunsaturated fats exist, but the ones getting the most attention from research scientists are the essential fats, linolenic acid and alpha-linoleic acid, and the omega-3 fatty acids.

The Essential PUFA Fats

Your body can make all the different fats it needs from two starting molecules, the two essential fats: linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). Because these are essential fats, meaning your body can't make them, you must get them from your diet. All other PUFAs can be made from these fats. The omega-6 PUFAs, such as arachidonic acid, one of the major fats in your cell membranes, are made from linoleic acid. The omega-3 fats, such as docosahexaenoic acid, the main fat in your brain, are made from alpha-linolenic acid.

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid which is plentiful in the diet of most Americans. This fat is found in at high levels in oils from grains, nuts and legumes, and is often provided in your diet by sunflower, safflower, sesame, corn, soy, and peanut oils. In the body, linoleic acid is first converted to another omega-6 fat called gamma-linolenic acid, which is also found in evening primrose oil and borage oil.

As mentioned, few people are deficient in the omega-6 essential fat, linoleic acid; this is, in part, because arachidonic acid, which is made from linoleic acid, is found at high levels in animal tissue, such as beef and poultry. Since the average Western diet contains a lot of meat, most people get high quantities of arachionic acid.

The omega-3 fats, which are produced in your body from the essential omega-3 fat -- alpha linolenic acid -- have generated much interest since studies continue to show that diets low in omega-3 fats are associated with many health diseases including chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and cardiovascular disease, and behavioral syndromes like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Alpha-linolenic acid is found in high quantities in flax oil, canola oil, and some leafy vegetables. Some of the most important omega-3 fats, which are synthesized from alpha-linolenic acid, are docosahaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and these can be obtained directly from the diet as well. Excellent sources for EPA and DHA are fish and algae.

Although omega-6 fats, like arachidonic acid, play important roles in your body, consuming too many of these in comparison to the amount of omega-3 fats you consume can cause problems. This is because the fluidity, or flexibility of cell membranes is so dependent on having a variety of fats present. Since omega-6 fats are in such high quantities in most people's diets, they occupy places where omega-3 fats should be. For good health, it is vital to consider the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in your diet.

The proper balance of omega-3 to omega-6 is extremely important not only for healthy cell membranes, but also because omega-6 fats are the precursors for pro-inflammatory molecules--the molecules that promote and maintain inflammatory reactions. Omega-3 fats, in contrast, are the precursors for anti-inflammatory molecules. Inflammatory reactions are an integral part of they way your body protects you against infections and promotes healing, but the body must be able to turn off its inflammatory defenses when their work is done. This is one of the primary roles of the omega-3 fats. When you lack a balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, your body can't turn off these inflammatory reactions, which promotes conditions of chronic inflammation. Current research continues to support that diseases such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disese, and asthma are perpetuated by a heightened inflammatory state, and that in individuals with these conditions, the pro-inflammatory omega-6 essential fats are not balanced by adequate amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3s.

The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is not known, but is estimated to be around 1:2; whereas, the current ratio in the typical American diet is more like 1:25. In order to achieve a more beneficial ratio, it is important to decrease the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, while increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA, DHA, and alpha-linolenic acid. This can be accomplished by reducing your comsumption of meats, dairy products, and refined foods, while increasing consumption of the omega-3 rich foods such as wild-caught cold-water fish like salmon, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and leafy green vegetables."

3) I assume its bad, but what does corn oil look like in the stats?

See above.

4) Where do you buy the more exotic oils like walnut or red palm?

Health food store.

5) I got an Omega 3 supplement once that was some kind of seed oil? Flaxseed oil! how is flax oil? Also, can you cook with it and has anyone looked at a fish oil that can be used for cooking with? Is flax oil any good compared to fish oil?

Flaxseed oil and fish oils are fairly viscous which makes them useless for cooking. Flaxseed oil is a good nutritional supplement but goes rancid very quickly. Ground flaxseeds are a good supplement as are chia seeds:

100 gm Flaxseed: --Total Omega-3 fatty acids 22813 mg --Total Omega-6 fatty acids 9931 mg*

100 gm Chia seeds: --Total Omega-3 fatty acids 17552 mg -- Total Omega-6 fatty acids 5785 mg**

And for comparison:

100 gm Cod Liver Oil:--Total Omega-3 fatty acids 19736 mg --Total Omega-6 fatty acids 9931 mg***

** from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2

*** from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/628/2

"Is flax oil any good compared to fish oil?"

see supplementquality.com/efficacy/fishoil_flaxoil.html for the pros and cons of each.

6) Lastly, I read that a hydrogenated oil is necessarily trans. Is that true? Since hydrogenation actually changes double bonds to single bonds it should not create any trans states that weren't present in the original oil, and of course full hydrogenation (saturated) means that there can't be any trans situation. My guess is that the hydrogenation process also may cause some trans states.

From whfoods.com:
"Hydrogenated fats are unnatural fats that are detrimental to your health.
Food fats naturally occur in three general types:
1.Saturated (e.g., butter, lard, coconut oil)
2.Monounsaturated (e.g., olive or canola oils)
3.Polyunsaturated (e.g., omega-6 oils like sunflower or safflower oil, or omega-3 oils like fish and flaxseed oils)

Hydrogenation (or, more accurately, "partial hydrogenation," as the process is incomplete) is the forced chemical addition of hydrogen into omega-6 polyunsaturated oils to make them hard at room temperatures, primarily as a cheaper and less perishable substitute for butter in crispy bread products. Common hydrogenated fats include hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated cottonseed, palm, soy, and corn oils, but theoretically almost any polyunsaturated oil can be hydrogenated.

The chemical structure of artificially hardened hydrogenated fat is, however, different from either that of a naturally hard saturated fat or naturally liquid unsaturated (mono- or poly-) oil. Saturated fats have a rigid straight molecular form, which tends to "rigidify" the body structures into which they are incorporated, like blood vessels (thus the association between hard animal fats and atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries). Unsaturated fats have various wavy or zigzag forms (called "cis-" forms) that contribute to more flexible arteries and other body structures. Hydrogenated fats also have bent molecular shapes, but hydrogenated fats are bent in the mirror-opposite direction (which is why they are called "trans-" forms) of naturally occurring unsaturated fats. For this reason, hydrogenated fats are difficult for the body to "grab onto" and metabolize, and can neither be incorporated into cell structures nor excreted in the normal fashion. Thus, hydrogenated or "trans-" fats tend to remain "stuck" in blood circulation, becoming oxidized and most importantly, contributing significantly to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and possibly also cancer."


So purely for "frying" food like eggs, how do you interpret this? Is canola OK? Soybean looks like it would be the easiest to balance out with something else.


Thanks. I'm glad I "looked it up" on the most appropriate resource.

The only thing I didn't understand from you post was the last part about hydrogenated oils.

If an oil has one double carbon bond, and that bond is broken to add the two hydrogen atoms, then how do you end up with a trans isomer. A trans isomer occurs when a double bond "locks" two carbon chains in the "zig-zag" shape that they described. If there is a double bond then it is not hydrogenated. If there is not a double bond, it can not be in a trans isomer form. The only thing I can think of is that when the bond is being hydrogenated, sometimes the hydrogen atoms temporarily break the double bond and the hydrocarbon chains swing into the energetically favorable trans position just long enough for the double bond to re-form and knock back off the hydrogens.


Why would you even consider Canola as a healthy oil? It is genetically modified to reduce some, but not all of its detrimental qualities?

Soybean oil has come under scrutiny for its negative effects on human male and female hormones.

If you are looking at the healthiest way of cooking, why use oil at all. Supplement your Omegas separately from the cooking process. Cooking (ie heating) adversely affects all oils.

see "world's Healthiest Foods" http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=whfkitqa&dbid=4 below:

"The World's Healthiest Cooking.

We have made this easy for you by offering recipes that are composed of very nutrient-rich seasonal whole foods. We have then included cooking methods such as:

Healthy Sauté
Healthy Stovetop Searing
Healthy Stir-Fry
Quick Broil
Healthy Stovetop Braising
These cooking methods bring out the natural flavor of whole foods without damaging their nutritional benefits.

You will notice that in no recipe do we heat oil.

Worldwide scientific research has shown that heated oils are very detrimental to our health. The above healthy cooking methods make it possible for you to cook these nutrient-rich foods and receive their optimal benefits in a delicious way.

Foods eaten when they are in the peak of their season are not only more nutritious, but they are much more flavorful at this time. Using these quick and easy cooking methods, which enhance the natural flavor of seasonal foods, makes it easy for you to enjoy the benefits of good tasting healthy food in a quick and easy way."

They recommend using a small amount of vegetable stock liquid to cook your eggs in.


macadamia nut oil is great for cooking, 1:1 omega 3 to 6 ration and high smoke point. Otherwise, grass fed butter is good and yes would be better than those options listed. i buy kerry gold brand myself, look for the butter to be a dark yellow color.


I prefer butter - it's far less processed than any of the others (not to mention it tastes much better.) As for the omega ratio, unless you're eating Paula Deen-esque amounts, I'd venture that it's nothing to worry about. Frying eggs doesn't require much lubrication.

I've heard that MCTs are preferentially used as fuel - which some people claim is good since you don't store them, while others claim it's bad because they prevent stored fat from being used. Meh. Coconut oil has enough health benefits that it's worth using. Plus it's high in delicious-chain fatty acids.

Your assumptions are correct!

Any higher-end grocery store (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's) should have these. Also the internet.

The consensus is that fish oil is superior to flaxseed oil for omega-3's. Also, flax supposedly increases estrogen production.

I wouldn't fry with a fish oil because A.) Heat would degrade the omega-3's and B.) your house would smell like stanky vag afterwards.

The entire point of industrialized hydrogenation is to create a trans-fat to add stability and increase shelf life. I guess if one had the motivation you could make a cis-hydrogenated fat, but as far as I know there isn't an economic reason to do so, so no one does. Hydrogenated =/= saturated. There are partially-hydrogenated fats.

Personally, I stick with fats that are minimally processed for cooking (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and nut oils,) buy regular meat, eggs, milk, and throw back some fish oil and call it a day.


You may want to check out a book entitled "Know Your Fats" by Mary Enig, Ph.D. It is a good overview of a lot of the information you are looking for. She also cites a lot of articles and books in it that you can look for further information.


Most of the questions have been answered. Was looking thru my bio-chem book from 10 years ago, and all was there, with a few changes over the years.

As a chef, I was really interested in oils (composition, burning points, health benefits, etc ), so I took a university course for shits and giggles. It turned out to be fun.

Now, concerning omegas in butter, is like concerning yourself with fibre in peanuts. Not enough to make a difference. I cook with it fir taste. Nutty butter is just so yummy.

Flax seed is the vegetarian option for O3. Stick with seed oils for higher percentage. Stick to nut oil for cooking (as a rule of thumb ). Fish oil are considered superior (salmon being up there, but cod, sardine, etc are very good also). I'm old enough to remember taking a teaspoon of cod liver oil. High in omegas and vit A and D. Hence, Scandinavians taking it.

Most people are O6 overdosing as it is found a lot of places. Heck, chicken fat has is.

Don't cook with fish oil for two reasons. Low burning point and your house will stink for a week.

Corn oil is high in O6. Most people get more then enough. An imbalance between O3 and O6 can occur and health problems have been researched. There is also the stigma associated with corn these days. But I'm not going there.

Did you mean MCT oil from the '90s? Because that was very popular with dieters. Lots of reasons it was popular. Coconut is popular because of this as it is very high percentage.

What can we take of this? Supplement in O3 only. Cook with animal fats (bacon cooked in duck fat is to die for) or nut oils. Salad dressing with seed oil is best. Canola oil is so processed I would stay away from it unless organic.

When you start reading up on the history of food, you start to understand why.


O9 can be manufactured from the body, so not really needed.


YEs and also almond oil..make sure you keep the almond oil in the fridge after you open it.