Healthy Culinary Oils

Glossary of Terms

Alpha tocopherol

One form of vitamin E that helps to prevent cell oxidation and neutralize free radicals. It is found in high amounts in only select vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, wheatgerm oil and hazelnut oil.


A type of fat found in animal products; eating a diet high in cholesterol, saturated, and trans fat will promote an increase of artery-clogging LDL fats in our bodies

Cold pressed

A term used to describe an oil produced by pressing the parent seed, nut, or grain at temperatures that do not exceed a certain maximum.

The term “cold pressed oil” is subject to different regulations, depending on the part of the world in which it is made. In the European Union, for example, oil with this label must be produced in an environment that never exceeds a certain temperature. This varies depending on the source material, but is generally around 80° to 120°F (27° to 49°C). In North America, labeling is not as regulated, so consumers generally need to contact companies directly to enquire as to their manufacturing process. The phrase ‘cold pressed’ has been used erroneously in North America for a number of years, often employed as a marketing technique for oils which have been expeller pressed or even refined (which exposes the oil to temperatures of up to 470 degrees F).

Essential fatty acids

Building blocks of fat that the body cannot make for itself, therefore are “essential” to consume from the diet. These include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is 2:1.

Many nutrition experts believe that before the introduction of processed foods, humans consumed omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in roughly equal amounts. But most North Americans and Europeans now get far too much of the omega-6s and not enough of the omega-3s. This dietary imbalance may explain the rise of such diseases as asthma, coronary heart disease, many forms of cancer, autoimmunity and neurodegenerative diseases, all of which are believed to stem from inflammation in the body. (https://

Expeller pressed

A natural method of extracting oil from raw material that involves squeezing out the oils under high pressure in one single step. This method of oil extraction is an alternative to the hexane, chemical-extraction method used for many conventional oils. There are no solvent (chemical) residues in oil that has been expeller pressed; resulting in a cleaner more pure oil, higher in natural colors and flavors.

Note: It is important to note that all cold pressed oils are expeller pressed, but all expeller pressed oils are not necessarily cold pressed. It all has to do with temperatures used in the pressing process. The process of extraction is the critical quality difference between oils often found in the natural foods marketplace as opposed to mass market or supermarket brands.

Filtered oil

Before bottling, select oils are filtered through a large cellulose (paper) filter to remove impurities, sensory defects, and water

Gamma tocopherol

A form of vitamin E that has powerful anti-inflammatory effects that include: trapping free radicals, protection against oxidation of LDL cholesterol, protection against cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurodegenerative conditions. Gamma tocopherol is most prevalent in natural diets and is present in high amounts in a few select artisanal oils such as camelina oil and walnut oil.

Monounsaturated fats

An unsaturated fat with one “mono” double bond in its chemical structure. Sources include avocados, nuts, and seeds as well as camelina, almond, avocado, canola, and olive oils


Has the chemical structure of a double bond on its third carbon atom, hence “omega-3”; found in cold-water fish, omega-3 eggs, walnuts, camelina seeds and flaxseeds, as well as camelina, walnut, flaxseed, and canola oils.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and are important for cognitive (brain memory and

performance) and behavioral function. Infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems.


Has the chemical structure of a double bond on its sixth carbon atom, hence “omega-6”; along with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development however some omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation.

Studies suggest that elevated intakes of omega-6 fatty acids may play a role in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. ( fatty-acids) The typical North American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The proper omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is 2:1.


Not classified as “essential,” as it can be made in our bodies; a monounsaturated fat; Omega-9’s are the most abundant fatty acids of all in nature, and they are not in short supply in our diets

Polyunsaturated fatty acid

Unsaturated fats with many “poly” double bonds in its chemical structure; omega-3 and -6 are both polyunsaturated fats

Refined oil

An oil which has been degummed, decoloured, and deodorized by high-temperature distillation. The refinement process changes the natural state of the oil by utilizing high heat, chemicals or a combination of these two factors to achieve uniform taste, smell and appearance of the oil.

Saturated fats

Solid at room temperature; implicated in the development of cardiovascular disease by raising blood levels of LDL “bad cholesterol”; sources include meat, palm and palm kernel oils, and dairy products

Smoke point

The temperature at which the oil starts to burn and literally smoke. Once this occurs, the oil becomes rancid, the flavors of cooked foods are compromised and free radicals and oxidation start forming within.

Free radicals have been linked to aging, tissue damage, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer. The temperature at which this occurs varies by type of oil and by refinement; although the smoke point is usually listed as a single number, it is actually a range; the more refined or “light” the oil of any origin, the higher the smoke point will be.

Solvent extraction

A process which involves extracting oil from oil-bearing materials by treating it with a low boiler chemical solvent (such as hexane) as opposed to extracting the oils by mechanical pressing methods. Because of the high percentage of recovered oil, solvent extraction has become the most popular method of extraction of oils and fats. The majority of vegetable oils sold as bottled product or food ingredient in the mass market or conventional food industry are solvent extracted oils.

Trans fats

Present in foods made from “partially hydrogenated oil,” including some margarines, shortenings, fast foods, and bakery products.

Like saturated fats, they raise the LDL “bad cholesterol” in your blood and have the added concern of lowering the HDL “good cholesterol”

Unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fats are healthy fats that are derived from plants and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. This type of fat, which is liquid at room temperature, differs from other fats in that it contains one or more double-bonds between carbon atoms in its structure. There are two forms of unsaturated fat – monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.

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