One reason why our body suffers so much inflammation nowadays is due to an excess of compounds created by too many fats and oils that have an excess of Omega 6 fatty acids. Because vegetable oils may be high in Omega 6s, do you need a substitute for vegetable oil when cooking?

When you eat carbohydrates or proteins, your body takes them apart and the different components go about to perform the tasks they are supposed to do. However, when you eat fat, the body doesn’t break it down in smaller units. This means that fats remain intact after you digest them. Therefore, the type of fat you eat has an impact in determining the health, or lack of it, of your body.

If you mainly ingest Omega 6 fats, this is the type of fat you will find in your body cells. The same happens with animals fed with grains high in Omega 6. On the other hand, if you ingest more Omega 3s, like the ones we find in fish, it will show in your cells, provided you are not eating too many Omega 6s.

Omega 6s: the so called “ healthy fats”
If you have read my past articles on inflammation, you know by now that Omega 3s promote health and that an excess of Omega 6s promote disease. This is because too many Omega 6s in your cells will prevent Omega 3s from doing their job.

For years, Omega 6s have been promoted as heart healthy fats. Many organizations, with good intentions, try to sell oils such as corn oil or sunflower oil, to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Consumers were told to replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Unfortunately, these vegetables oils are rich in Omega 6s and low in Omega 3s. As a result, inflammation takes hold of our body causing chronic diseases that we were trying to avoid by making these oils part of our diet.

Do you need a substitute for vegetable oil in your kitchen then?
Not exactly. What you need to do is to be selective with the vegetable oils you use, since not all oils have a disproportionate ratio of Omega 6s versus Omega 3s. Become familiar with the list of oils I include here and read the Ingredient part of the food label to identify some of these oils in your favorite products. What is happening nowadays is that we find oils in the market shelves and in many processed foods that didn’t exist a century ago, such as cotton oil.

Proportion of Omega 6s and Omega 3s in most popular vegetable oils

Remember that a healthy proportion of Omega 6s versus Omega 3s is about 4, meaning for each part of Omega 3s, we can have 4 of Omega 6s.

Here is a list of the ratio for different oils that may help you when going to the market to buy cooking oil:

Cotton seed oil: 234:1
Sunflower seed oil: 180:1
Grape seed oil: 72
Corn oil: 46:1
Soy oil partially hydrogenated: 39:1
Olive oil: 13:1
Walnut oil: 5:1
Rapeseed or canola oil: 2:1
Linseed or flax seed oil: 0.3:1

A word of caution
By looking at this list you may think that walnut oil is healthier than olive oil. The reason why this is not true is because the amount of Omega 3s and Omega 6s in olive oil is very small, since most of its fat is monounsaturated fat. Omega 6 and Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fats.

On the other hand, walnut oil, although it has a ratio of 5:1, the oil contains a large amount of Omega 6 and Omega 3, so, a spoon of walnut oil contains more Omega 6s than olive oil.

Final words
So, to the original question, should you substitute vegetable oils in your kitchen, the answer is NO. You definitely don’t want to go back to butter or lard for cooking. What you want to do is to choose your cooking oils carefully because if little by little you eliminate foods that cause inflammation, you will definitely be ahead of the game when it comes to certain chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and arthritis, just to name a few.

Choose olive or canola oil. These oils have a large portion of monounsaturated fat in their composition and they are low in polyunsaturated fats, a factor that can be one cause of inflammation if the ratio between Omega 6s and Omega3s, the polyunsaturated fats, is not the right one.

To your health!

Emilia Klapp, R.D., B.S.

Author's Bio: 

Emilia Klapp has a Bachelor in Nutrition Science and is Certified as a Registered Dietitian. She is the author of The Diabetes Club, a blog dedicated to inform people how to prevent and control diabetes through nutrition and exercise. To obtain a list of calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates contained in fast food served at Fast Food Restaurants go to