I’ve put together a list of the oils that I avoid. It’s kind of like those lists for hidden sources of MSG and other allergens. This list is by no means comprehensive and is only meant to assist others who have oil sensitivities. I do update it as more information comes to my attention. Please e-mail me if you find something I have missed. Also please read labels carefully and if possible ask questions of manufacturers. It has been very helpful for me to learn about food preparation to know when oils are used. I go by the “when in doubt avoid it” idem because I have to be 100% successful at avoiding oils.
The Oil List
Beverages– post about oils in beverages here
Milk– I seem to do fine with pasteurized milk and raw milk. What I do less fine with is homogenized milk. It’s not quite as awful a reaction as with refined oils but I do get an upset stomach. My reading has led me to conclude that it might be the twisted proteins. Many people experience difficulties with trying to digest the proteins in homogenized milk. It might also be the fats are messed up due to the pressing of the milk through a fine screen. Either way my system reacts. Read my post about it here.
Fruit Juice and Soda— Many fruit juices and sodas have chemicals and additives in them that do not have to be listed on the label, either because they are in tiny quantities, only came in contact with an ingredient, or are not deemed to significantly contribute to the products flavor or consistency. Many of these surfactants or emulsifiers are made from vegetable oils. I avoid soda and juice mostly because I got sick off a bottle of lemon juice that listed lemons as its only ingredient.
Some citrus sodas have BVO (Brominated Vegetable Oil) in them. BVO is added to about 10 percent of sodas in North America although it is banned for use in food throughout Europe and Japan. Found in these sodas and others: Mountain Dew Sunkits Pineapple, Squirt Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, Poweraid Strawberry Lemonade, Fanta Orange Fresca Original Cirus
Wine — Polysorbate 80 is used as a de-foamer for the fermenting process of some wines. Most of what is used in processing of alcohol does not have to be listed on the label.
Easy to spot oils — These are the oils that are easy to spot on labels. They are listed as what they are and I have no problem spotting and avoiding them.
- Butter oil, AKA anhydrous milk fat
read my post about it here
- Canola oil, AKA rapeseed oil, read my post about it here
- Cotton Seed Oil
- Soybean oil
- Vegetable oils, especially partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Sesame oil
- Grape seed oil
- Hydrogenated oil,(if it says hydrogenated avoid it)
- Light olive oil, (always mixed with canola or other vegetable oils)
So called healthy oils– I say so called, because each of these oils is touted as healthy. I have done research and found out that many of these oils (excepting coconut and palm) are very unstable, so generally speaking by the time they reach a grocery store shelf they are rancid. Meaning that they could be healthy oils when not rancid. The people who talk about it say that if you process them yourself they are great but admit that otherwise they are little better than the oils above.
- Nut oils, such as almond, walnut, pecan, and hazelnut
- Flax oil,
- Avocado oil
Healthy Oils cont.
- Coconut oil & Palm oil– In the case of palm oil and coconut oil I have been told that they are healthy for most people. The only thing is I have been grievously ill from eating both of these oils. This may have been a contamination issue, a hydrogenation or a processing issue. Some of my readers tell me that if they eat minimally processed palm or coconut oils they are fine but other people are like me and can’t tolerate them.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil– again my reading has told me that most experts agree that olive oil is a healthy oil, however it is an unstable oil much like the ones above. It lasts one year if kept away from light, heat and oxygen. Most of the time oil on shelves is much older than a year. Moreover many of these oils are not bottled in the correct kind of dark glass. The bigger issue is that oil is not a regulated market and much of what is sold as extra virgin olive oil is not. Much of it is contaminated or outright fake. Because of this I avoid olive oils like the plague. I would imagine that it would be safer to buy from small farmers that you can actually talk to just after bottling. Just like with palm or coconut oil some of my readers find that they can tolerate olive oil but others find it to be the only oil they can’t tolerate.
Oil Derivatives– These are ingredients that are listed in food items and cosmetics that are derived from oils and fats (and thus are processed and probably damaged).
- Alpha-linolenic acid– This chemical does not occur in nature in an isolated form and must be obtained using chemical processes. Derived from vegetable oils.
- Anhydrous Milk Fat– Produced in the same manor as butter oil.
- BVO (Brominated Vegetable Oil)– Banned for use in food throughout Europe and Japan. Vegetable oil is bonded with the element bromine. Bromine is an endocrine disruptor and competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine in the human body. Found in about 10 percent of citrus flavored sodas in North America, including Mountain Dew.
- Cis-vaccenic acid– This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes. A monounsaturated fat generally derived from animal fats or plant oils.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)– This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes. Derived from fish oils.
- Blue #1– Originally derived from coal tar, although most manufacturers now make it from an oil base
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) AKA gamolenic acid–Derived from vegetable oils.
- Glyceryl stearate– can be derived from several possible sources: palm kernel oil, soy oil, or vegetable oil among them. Usually found in soap and cosmetics.
- Glycerol– One of the chemical names for fats. This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes.
- Hypromellose– An emulsifier that could or could not be derived from oils.
- Linoleic acid– Derived from vegetable oils. This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes.
- Magnesium stearate– is a derivative of stearic acid, where they take two molecules of stearic acid and bind them to magnesium to make a salt.
- Mono and Diglycerides– A short chain of fatty acids. Used as emulsifying agent. Although technically fats Mono and Diglycerides are not included in total fat on the Nutrition Breakdown of packaged foods.
- Milk fat– fat removed from milk is just as processed as vegetable oils.
- Octadecanoic acid– chemical fat name. This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes.
- Oleic acid– This is an umbrella term for most fats inside of plants. From the Greek for olive. This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes. Oleic acid is classified as a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Derived from animal fats and plant oils.
- Petroleum Jelly– a petroleum product derived from fossil fuels.
- Palmitoleic acid– This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes. It is a monounsaturated fat that can be derived from animal fats of vegetable oils.
- PGPR (AKA Polyglycerol polyricinoleate)– an emulsifier made from caster oil or soybean oil commonly added to cheep chocolate.
- Polypropylene Glycol Stearyl Ethers– are produced from the reaction of propylene oxide with stearyl alcohol. Stearyl alcohols are derived from animal fats and oils. Usually found in soap and cosmetics.
- Polysorbate 20– is a polyoxyethylene derivative of sorbitan monolaurate and is used as a detergent, emulsifier and wetting agent. Derived from fats. Usually found in soap and cosmetics. This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes.
- Polysorbate 80– used as a de-foamer for the fermenting process of some wines, as an additive in ice cream and dairy products as well as an emulsifier in soups and sauces. Found in many vitamins, medications and injections. Post about polysorbate in injections here. Also found in cosmetics and chemical cleaners. Made from polyethoxylated sorbitan (chemical compounds derived from the dehydration of sugar alcohol) and oleic acid, a fatty acid found in animal and vegetable fats.
- Simethicone– Wickipedia says that it is an anti-foaming agent made of polydimethylsiloxane and hydrated silica gel. I knew that silica comes from rocks polydimethylsiloxane belongs to a group of chemicals called silicones, and specifically a branch called silicone oils. Apparently silicone oils are not absorbed by the human body and thus are considered safe for human consumption but I decided that I will not be consuming any product containing them again. Usually found in gas X, and other anti gas products.
- Sodium stearate– is produced as a major component of soap upon saponification of oils and fats. Usually found in soap and deodorant. This is a very old chemical used for centuries.
- Soy lecithin– Generally soy lecithin contains about 35% soybean oil and 16% phosphatidylcholine. It is a bi-product of the soy oil making process found in many food products. Especially in chocolate.
- Sorbitan monostearate– An oil derivative usually made from corn that is used on bulk yeast to protect it from oxygen.
- Stearic acid– This chemical does not occur in nature in this form and must be obtained using chemical processes. A common saturated fatty acid, i.e Fat.
- Stearyl alcohols– Derived from animal fats and oils. Usually found in soap and cosmetics.
- Triglycerides– Another name for fat.
- Vegetable Stearine– A colorless, odorless, tasteless ester of glycerol and stearic acid found in most animal and vegetable fats.
Whole foods to avoid if listed as an ingredient in another food– unless absolutely sure. I have only listed the ones that I ran across that surprised me. Ninety percent of processed foods contain oils in some form or another. It’s very important to read labels. Often things like meat and milk which we tend to think of as whole ingredients are contaminated by other substances during processing. If you have a corn allergy especially it can be difficult to get uncontaminated meat.
- Peanut butter– Often made with palm oil, sugar and peanuts.
- Bread crumbs– Most breads are made with oils.
- Cream —Much commercial cream has additives in it. Darigold lists Ultrapasteurized Cream, Carrageenan, Dextrose, Mono- and Diglycerides, & Polysorbate 80
- Nuts– They can be toasted in oil and not list the oil.
- Yeast– Bulk yeast often is coated in Sorbitan monostearate to protect the cells from oxygen but when added to breads and other products it will not be listed.
Foods that Generally Contain Added Fats– Be very careful when buying these foods.
- Most breads and cookies. Although there are more cookies that use real butter than breads.
- Pasta sauces
- Canned fish
- Canned beans
- Canned soup
- Cottage cheese
- Cooked meats, lunch meats and deli meats.
- Fruit juices can contain oils made from whatever fruit the juice is supposed to be made of. As such, legally oil doesn’t have to be listed on the label.
Other Unexpected Places to Find Processed oils— on plastic. Any plastic that has come in contact with an oil is forever contaminated with it and can leak traces of fat onto whatever is subsequently put in it. I wrote a post about plastic and oils here.
Foods that Usually Don’t have Added Fats and Oils–
- Whole grains (unless toasted)
- Uncooked meats,
- Traditional sausage and salamis.
- Whole fruits and vegetables.
Fresh and unprocessed fats are good for you. Make sure to read labels and/or talk to the people who produced your fats to make sure they are not hydrogenated or treated with chemicals.
- Lard–aka Pig Fat– Lard found at a grocery stores is generally hydrogenated and is not safe for me but lard which has been rendered from a pig is fine. Rendering uses low heat to melt the fat out of the pigs flesh. It can be done using a crock pot or oven at home. I buy half a hog and make sure to ask for the fat so I can make lard. It really is the bet fat I’ve found for everything in the kitchen.
- Peanut Oil– I have never suffered a problem eating this oil. Many people have allergies and can’t eat peanuts or peanut oil. Peanuts are a difficult food to digest and have lots of toxins both from the peanut plant and from the molds that inhabit them. Most experts do not recommend this as a healthy oil and lump it in with refined seed oils. So probably not the best oil to be eating on a daily basis. I save it for special occasions but still list it as a safe oil because it doesn’t make me sick.
- Schmaltz aka Chicken Fat– I don’t think you can buy this ready made. I horde the fat that comes off of cooked chickens and use it for all kinds of cooking. Cornish game fat is similar.
- Tallow aka Beef Fat– This is another fat that people obtain through rendering. I’ve never been able to get more than a little of this fat at a time because I’m not sure I have quite enough freezer space for a quarter cow. Still this is a good fat. Thicker and harder at room temperature than even lard. I assume that buffalo and other ruminant fats are similar.
- Duck Fat– Duck fat is as close to lard as any other fat I’ve come across. Its clean cooking so there is less spitting when cooking at higher temperatures and it has a very mild flavor. I assume that goose fat would be similar.
- Butter– Great stuff.
I continue to update this list as I find more sources of oils.
- *updated November 2014
- *updated February 2015
- *updated August 2015
- *updated December 2015
- *updated January 2016