How To Buy Oils and Spreads That Are Trans-Fat Free

How to Buy Oils and Spreads that Include No Trans Fats

Almost none of the oils and oil-containing sauces and spreads that are available in just about every single supermarket store are trans-fat-free.

If you want to really buy good oils, except for butter and olive oil, you will need to buy your oils, mayonnaises and spreads from health food stores which carry un-refined oils. It is not good enough for the food producing company to have labeled their oil containing product as trans fat free. Read the ingredients label. Does the product include the words “ cold-pressed oil” or “ un-refined oil” and or "packed in nitrogen" ? Buying oils labelled in this way will give you a good start at avoiding damaged oils but unfortunately even these labels do not necessarily indicate that the oil is safe from high temperatures. The term "cold pressed" or "expeller pressed" may simply mean that the oil has been extracted using a press and no external heat added. This terminology does does not rule out the possibility of high temperatures being generated by the action of the press itself. As well as this, refining processes which might follow the use of a "cold press extraction of the oil" will be just as damaging to these oils as these procedures are to any oil.

One rarely seen label you may see on an un-refined oil product (and one you would like to see) would be " Modified Atmospheric Packing" (MAP). This method of oil extraction employs the use of an expeller press which is set up so that it will maintain a low temperature and maintain the pressing conditions free from impingement of light and oxygen. You will not likely see the actual term Modified Atmospheric Packing included in the labeling of an un-refined oil that was indeed expelled in this manner. However the trade names "Bio-Electron Process", "Spectra-Vac" and "Omegaflo" refer to this very technology as practiced by the companies Barlean’s Organic Oils, Spectrum Naturals, and Omega Nutrition.

These Three companies produce high quality un-damaged oils which are genuinely cold pressed and handled with sufficient care to avoid damaging them.

You can buy health olive oil from a super market though. All olive oil is safe to use. Sometimes olive oil is mixed with other cheaper refined oils, so be sure that the olive oil that you are buying is pure. Virgin olive oil is the best, since it is pressed at the coolest temperatures, and with the least amount of pressure. However, cheaper olive oil which is extracted with the second pressing of the olives from which the virgin olive oil was pressed is still safe to use. It has endured higher temperatures and greater pressures than the virgin olive oil of the first pressing, but as far as you are concerned second pressing olive oil is still safe to use. You do not need to see the words “ cold-pressed” or “un-refined” on the label. Olive oil is a naturally stable oil. The highest temperatures that olive oil is exposed to during processing do not cause it damage, and once it has been pressed no refining is necessary for it to exhibit a very long shelf life. So, olive oil is never refined.

All butter is safe too. You can buy it from any store. Butter is essentially an un-refined oil (or fat really) and is the best choice for high temperature cooking since it is mostly unsaturated. Unsaturated fats can endure a certain amount of above boiling temperature exposure without damage. Even so, be careful not to burn butter. Burned foods are chemically damaged (from a biological point of view) and butter is no exception.

When Purchasing Vegetable and Seed Oils Look For:

  • Labeling which describes the oil extraction process, and which describe this process as being carried out in conditions which do not exceed 98 degrees Fahrenheit and which exclude light and oxygen during the manufacture.
  • Products contained in opaque (light proof) plastic containers – especially for the very delicate flax seed oil
  • Products which are delivered under refrigeration, directly from the Manufacturer to the health food store – especially important for flax seed oil
  • Products found in the refrigerated section of the health food store – Do not buy flax seed oil unless it is under refrigeration, other less delicate oils are safe at room temperature, but only until the bottle is opened*
  • Products that have pressing date and best before dates on the label – Keep your oils in the freezer to extend their lives. Flax seed oil will remain liquid in your freezer. Even in the refrigerator flax seed oil rapidly deteriorates. I keep my flax seed in the freezer. It lasts for so much longer. If your flax seed oil has a bitter taste, or is unpleasant to eat do not use it. Even in the refrigerator flax seed oil will react with the oxygen you introduce into the bottle when you opened it. This alone is sufficient to damage the oil.

* Special note regarding flax seed oil – Once the bottle of flax seed oil has been opened it will need to be stored in the freezer section of your refrigerator and in the upright position if at all possible. Flax seed oil is so reactive that even at the cold temperatures maintained by your refrigerator it will oxidize fairly rapidly and become rancid. In the freezer the oil will become thicker but will still run so no thawing is needed when you wish to use it. It can be kept much longer this way.

This post is part of the series: Trans Fats

Trans Fats are hidden in many foods. Finding them requires some understanding, and eliminating them from your diet is imperative. This series takes a good look at trans fats.
  1. Trans Fats Research: The Dangers of Trans Fats
  2. Buying Oils and Spreads That Have No Trans Fats
  3. How to Find and Ban Trans Fats from Your Diet
  4. What Foods to Eat When you Go “No Trans Fat”