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Healthier Substitutes for Vegetable Oil

Published October 20, 2019
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

Fact-Checked By: Ana Reisdorf MS, RD

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<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"http://schema.org", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "https://www.warriormade.com", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/10/vegetable-oil-shortening-baking-glass-jars-thumbnail-0263.jpg" } }, "headline":"Healthier Substitutes for Vegetable Oil", "datePublished":"2019-10-20", "dateModified": "2019-10-20", "description":"Need a healthier substitute for vegetable oil? Here are 3 natural oil alternatives that are much better for your body and brain.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/10/vegetable-oil-shortening-baking-glass-jars-thumbnail-0263.jpg" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Should you substitute vegetable oil?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "There are three reasons you might consider substituting vegetable oil for other options. 1. Omega-6 fatty acids, 2. Low smoke point, 3. Contains trans fat" } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "What are good alternatives to vegetable oils?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Here are three healthier alternatives to vegetable oil. 1. Olive oil, 2. Coconut oil, 3. Avocado oil" } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Should You Substitute Vegetable Oil?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">What are Good Alternatives to Vegetable Oils?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Best Substitutes for Vegetable Oil in Baking</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Substitute for Vegetable Oil—Wrap-Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Many consider vegetable oil to be a staple of their kitchen. From stir fries to baked goods, it’s a versatile cooking tool with a lower amount of saturated fat, which used to be a sought-after, heart-healthy selling point compared to other cooking oils.</p> <p>The truth is that many vegetable oil products aren’t that good for you. They’re used to make many processed foods, so large mills that produce it use a chemical solvent to extract the oil for efficiency, just to accommodate such high demand.</p> <p>Even those that aren’t made with chemicals may still contain a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which may increase inflammation and risk of cancer.</p> <p>Here’s why you should consider substituting vegetable oil with three healthier options: <i>olive oil</i>, <i>coconut oil</i>, and <i>avocado oil</i>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <h2 id="section1">Should you substitute vegetable oil?</h2> <p>There are three reasons you might consider substituting vegetable oil for other options.</p> <h3>1. Omega-6 fatty acids</h3> <p>Certain plant oils, like soybean, canola, peanut and sesame oil, are high in omega-6 fatty acids*. Our brains need both omega-6 and omega-3 (a fatty acid found in fish like salmon), but the ratio of these acids should be about 1:1 <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26950145" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup>. </p> <p><i>(*Not all plant oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, though. Coconut, olive, and avocado oil are plant oils, and they’re all well-balanced.)</i></p> <p>Higher ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids mess up this balance, and are linked to chronic inflammation and many of the major diseases that kill Americans<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16841858" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup>. </p> <p>As someone trying to make healthy choices, choosing foods—and in this case, cooking oils— that keep your omega ratios balanced should be a priority.</p> <h3>2. Low smoke point</h3> <p>Vegetable oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, which contain fragile compounds that oxidize easily, especially when heated <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23744414" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup>. Each cooking oil has something called a “smoke point”, which refers to the temperature of the oil when it begins to burn <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/05/cooking-fats-101-whats-a-smoke-point-and-why-does-it-matter.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup>. </p> <p>When cooking oil burns, the fat compounds begin deteriorating. Consuming these unstable compounds is linked to increased risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724665/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a></sup>.</p> <p>Your goal, then, is to choose cooking oils with a moderate to high smoke point for cooking. This ensures you can use it safely. Plus, you can use the oil in different settings (baking, on the grill, etc.) without worrying about specific smoke points, which makes it more versatile.</p> <h3>3. Contains trans fat</h3> <p>Considered to be the worst type of fat you can eat by many doctors, trans-fat is made synthetically when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/trans-fat/art-20046114" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup>. This makes them solid at room temperature, which allows for a longer shelf life on pre-packaged foods*.</p> <p><i>*Actually, trans fats have been completely banned by the FDA. They will be removed from all foods by January 2020 <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/trans-fat" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup>.</i></p> <p>Trans fat negatively impacts cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease.</p> <p>For these reasons, you might want to consider substituting different vegetable oils in favor of some healthier options.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <h2 id="section2">What are good alternatives to vegetable oils?</h2> <p>Here are three healthier alternatives to vegetable oil.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/olive-oil-salad-dressing-cooking-olive-0263.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/olive-oil-salad-dressing-cooking-olive-0263.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/olive-oil-salad-dressing-cooking-olive-0263.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/olive-oil-salad-dressing-cooking-olive-LR-0263.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="olive-oil-salad-dressing-cooking-olive"> </picture> <h3>1. Olive oil</h3> <p>Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats. About 73 percent of olive oil is the monounsaturated type, which has been linked to reducing inflammation and warding off cancer <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cpd/2011/00000017/00000008/art00002" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup> <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17168666" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup>.</p> <p>Unlike polyunsaturated-rich vegetable oils, olive oil has a high smoke point—between 350 and 410 degrees. This means you’re less likely to exceed that temperature and burn the oil while cooking or baking <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.aboutoliveoil.org/olive-oil-smoke-point-measured" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup>.</p> <p>For this reason and others, olive oil is quite versatile. Here are some ways you can use it: </p> <ul> <li>To coat your pan to cook meat or vegetables</li> <li>Drizzle it on a salad or include it in a homemade vinaigrette</li> <li>Mix it with spices in a meat marinade for the grill</li> </ul> <p>It’s also available at nearly every grocery store.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coconut-oil-glass-jar-wood-spoon-0263.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coconut-oil-glass-jar-wood-spoon-0263.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coconut-oil-glass-jar-wood-spoon-0263.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coconut-oil-glass-jar-wood-spoon-LR-0263.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="coconut-oil-glass-jar-wood-spoon"> </picture> <h3>2. Coconut oil</h3> <p>Saturated fat used to be linked to illnesses like heart disease. But now science is showing that’s not conclusive and actually, there are health benefits to consuming saturated fats <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup>. </p> <p>Coconut oil is packed with a unique saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). These types of fat go straight to your liver to be digested, improve brain function, and may even help you get into ketosis more easily <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044790/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">12</a></sup> <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481320/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup>. </p> <p>MCTs can also help you burn more calories than other types of fats <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25636220" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup>.</p> <p>Here are some ways you might use coconut oil:</p> <ul> <li>For baked goods (it’s creamy quality makes it a great replacement for butter)</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-butter-coffee" rel="noreferrer">In your coffee</a> </li> <li>In a pan for a stir fry (let it heat for a minute so it turns into a liquid)</li> </ul> <p>See the “<a href="#section3">Best substitutes for vegetable oil in baking</a>” section below for more ideas. Coconut oil also has been proven to be helpful in dozens of non-kitchen ways from wound protection to teeth-cleaning. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/avocado-halved-close-view-0263.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/avocado-halved-close-view-0263.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/avocado-halved-close-view-0263.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/avocado-halved-close-view-LR-0263.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="avocado-halved-close-view"> </picture> <h3>3. Avocado oil</h3> <p>Compared to olive oil and coconut oil, avocado oil is only just starting to get popular in the health community. </p> <p>Like olive oil, it has a high smoke point and is packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.</p> <p>It’s also made up of about 70 percent monounsaturated fat, along with 12 percent saturated fat<sup><a target="_blank" href="http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/620/2" rel="nofollow noreferrer">14</a></sup>. Compared to vegetable oil, it’s a much better choice for brain health.</p> <p>Because it’s newer on the market, it might be a little more expensive than olive or coconut oil. But it’s available at most grocery stores and online through health-food retailers. If you’re looking for a more mild flavored oil, this is the one to go with.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wok-cooking-mixed-vegetables-sit-fry-kitchen-0263.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wok-cooking-mixed-vegetables-sit-fry-kitchen-0263.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wok-cooking-mixed-vegetables-sit-fry-kitchen-0263.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wok-cooking-mixed-vegetables-sit-fry-kitchen-LR-0263.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="wok-cooking-mixed-vegetables-sit-fry-kitchen"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <h2 id="section3">Best substitutes for vegetable oil in baking</h2> <p>Here’s an easy replacement for some popular foods you might be making with vegetable oil. Simply sub out vegetable oil in your recipes for one of these options.</p> <h3>Cake mix</h3> <p>Clarified butter or ghee are good alternatives for most baked goods. This will ensure a smooth, creamy taste (coconut oil works here, too.)</p> <h3>Brownies</h3> <p>Clarified butter or ghee would also work here. And though it’s not specifically low carb, a healthier way to bind everything together is to use banana or homemade applesauce.</p> <h3>Stir Fry</h3> <p>With their high smoke points, coconut oil or olive oil fit the bill perfectly here. Give the coconut oil 20 seconds or so in the pan to turn into liquid before dropping in veggies, meat, or whatever you’re preparing to ensure even distribution.</p> <h3>Marinade</h3> <p>Avocado oil and olive oil are liquid at room temperature, so you can easily drizzle them over meat or veggies or mix them in a bag with spices.</p> <p>If you want the spices or sauce to stand out more, go with avocado oil. The flavor is more mild than olive.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <h2 id="section4">Substitute for vegetable oil—wrap-up</h2> <p>With the healthier options available today, there are plenty of reasons to skip vegetable oil in favor of a more natural option. For different reasons, olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil all offer more benefits to your health and can be easily substituted into recipes that call for vegetable oil.</p> <p>Check out <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/" rel="noreferrer">our recipes</a> to see how we use natural oils in our low carb meals, snacks, and desserts!</p> </section> </article>

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