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Is Grapeseed Oil Healthy to Cook With?

What oils do you have in your cabinet?

(If you're thinking, "None, all my oils are sitting out on a shelf," you need a quick health refresher: oils should be kept in dark bottles, in dark pantries to avoid heat and sunlight, both of which, cause spoilage.)

Maybe you've got a jar of organic, cold-pressed virgin coconut oil and local olive oil from a farmer's market merchant, and perhaps some ghee, clarified butter to cook with. 

You've been convinced by other Miracle Noodle Healthy Cooking blog posts that vegetable oils are not good to cook with, especially at low-medium or hotter heats because they spoil easily. 

So that's it, just a few healthy cooking oils. But one oil you may be curious about but haven't gotten around to buying, is grapeseed oil. 

Not nearly as popular as olive or coconut oil, grapeseed oil is nonetheless ubiquitous in larger markets and health food stores. 

Grapeseed oil is commonly regarded as a healthy cooking oil because of its high smoke point, roughly at 420 degrees. High smoke point refers to the temperature it requires for the oil to promulgating carcinogenic properties. In other words, smoking isn't healthy, not from cigarettes, and not from oils. 

But there's a Catch-22 with Grapeseed oil. While it may be a positive trait for a cooking oil to have a high smoke point, should we be cooking foods at such high temperatures anyway? The slow-food movement, which most people would agree makes for a happier lifestyle, rather than cooking rushed dishes, only to be devoured in a few bites, tends to cook foods at lower temperatures. 

Cooking foods at high temperatures tends to kill off at least part of the nutrient profile. 

Perhaps for some foods, where there's no escaping high heat to cook a dish, say, a brick-oven pizza, would be better off coated with grapeseed oil? 

But just because an oil has a high smoke point does not mean it's better for you. Take Corn oil for example. It actually has a higher smoke point than the generally-regarded-as-healthier grapeseed oil (450 degrees) but corn oil is most often refined. Stored in clear bottles, corn oil goes rancid easily.

Grapeseed oil also has a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Both of these essential fatty acids (along with 9's, and the lesser-known 7's, etc.) are needed in small amounts, relative to other nutrients we desperately need. But the ratio between the two should be somewhat close together, say 4-1 maximum difference more 6's than 3's. Omega 6's are polyunsaturated fatty acids, and plentiful in olive oil, which you know by know is super heart-healthy. But 6's are also found in processed flour-filled foods like breads. 

Modern, Standard American Diets (SAD) are way out of balance, with a ratio commonly found of 50- or 100:1 if not way more imbalanced. According to a chart on TheConsciousLife.com, grapeseed oil has 676:1 ratio. That's a lot of Omega-6's! Do we need that much when we're already out of whack? It's tough to say; perhaps we need some of the 6's that are beneficial for heart health, but are we throwing ourselves more out of whack?

The easy answer is to get the heart-healthy benefits from grapeseed oil's omega-6 profile, but make sure you're getting enough Omega-3-rich-fatty acids such as wild salmon  If you think you could benefit from a cooking oil with less omega-6's, walnut oil may be a good alternative, as it has a relatively low 6-3 ratio of 5:1. 

Conclusion: in moderation, grapeseed oil can be a healthy cooking oil, but excess omega-6's, especially from processed foods, causes inflammation. It's not clear if grapeseed oil's high omega-6 content will cause harm; moderate consumption most likely offers some health benefit.

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