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Dear Pharmacist: Your body needs an oil change

Olive oil is poured over salad.

Olive oil is poured over salad. Photo Credit: iStock

Maybe Your Body Needs an Oil Change?

Dear Pharmacist,

I heard you say that cooking with "vegetable oil" was your least favorite oil. It's all I've ever used. Why don't you like it, and what oils should we cook with? - R.E., Austin, Texas


I think Americans lack the right fats in their bodies - for example, a healthy balance of linolenic acid, omega-3, -6 and -9. Balance is key so I recommend oils that are rich in nutrients known to advance health. I'm not thrilled with yellow-colored lard alternatives to butter, you're better off with natural butter or ghee. Now here is my list of healthy oils:

Flaxseed: Packed with essential fatty acids, like linolenic acid and omegas, flax is known to reduce toxic forms of estrogen in the body, thereby reducing your risk of breast or prostate cancers. It has a subtle nutty flavor and high-quality versions are "cold pressed" rather than heated. Bear in mind any "cold-pressed" oil should not be heated beyond the smoke point.

Hemp seed oil: A study showed it may relieve symptoms of eczema. Pressed from the seeds of legally grown cannabis flowers, this gorgeous green oil does not impart psychoactive effects and, in fact, has regenerative properties because it is an incredible source of vitamin E, gamma-linolenic acid and omega-3. It helps heart, immune and digestive function. It tastes nutty, and because it's cold-pressed it shouldn't be used for frying.

Almond: Refined almond oil is great for cooking because of its relatively high smoke point, meaning the oil can be heated without destroying too many nutrients or creating harmful compounds. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and D. Just incredible!

Sunflower: Low in saturated fats and rich in vitamin E, sunflower contains oleic acid, which increases a gut hormone called GLP-1. This hormone makes you feel full faster so you're less likely to stuff your face! GLP-1 also increases insulin sensitivity and protects your pancreatic cells. Don't overheat.

Avocado: The best source of powerful antioxidants like glutathione and vitamins A, E and D. Use it in salads or apply it to your skin - it helps eczema and psoriasis. Glutathione in avocados can clean out your digestive tract, especially your liver and pancreas. OK to heat.

Coconut: So many uses for this! It fights candida, helps digestion and tastes like coconuts. It may also chase away viruses. I often saute veggies with this, but it's great for cooking at higher temperatures. You can add to smoothies, apply a tad to dry elbows, heels or skin irritations.

Grapeseed: One of my favorites because it has a mild taste and imparts strong antioxidants. Great for your heart, it raises good HDLs and lowers bad LDLs.

Olive oil: Use only extra-virgin, cold-pressed oils, which are high in essential fatty acids, and vitamins E and K. Olive oil can promote smooth digestion while protecting you from heart disease or circulation problems.


This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your disease. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. To ask her a question or to learn more about your health, visit


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