The Good Oils

Sesame Oil

  1. There is probably a good reason why while most oils are known by their name, sesame oil has always been known by the name “good oil” (“nalla ennai”, நல்ல எண்ணெய்).
  2. For ages Indians have been safe from cardiovascular diseases, up until just the last 20 years, due to the dangers introduced by refined oils (which are trans-fat oils). As we say in software, if something is working, don’t try to fix it! So if sesame oil has proven itself good for centuries, why go after marketing/brainwashing like refined oils and olive oil?
  3. Sesame oil has the highest concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular omega-6 fatty acid.
  4. Polyunsaturated oils have been shown to reduce blood pressure.
  5. It is a good source of vitamin E. It also contains important elements like magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and vitamin B6.
  6. Reduces stress and hyper tension.
  7. Ayurveda makes extensive use of sesame oil in diet recommendations and massage oil preparations.

Cocounut Oil

  1. Coconut oil is probably one of the healthiest oils.
  2. Coconut oil is the highest source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) which are very important for protecting heart cells, lubricating heart muscles, reducing your chance of heart attack.
  3. MCFA’s get metabolized more readily into energy, unlike long chain fatty acids which get stored.
  4. Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis.
  5. Coconut oil does not contain cholesterol (cholesterol comes only from animal sources, like milk, butter, meat, eggs,…), but it helps increase good cholesterol (HDL) which protects against heart disease.
  6. Kills viruses (that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C), bacteria that cause throat infections, and fungi.
  7. It contains lauric acid, which is important for the immune system. The only other place it is found in this concentration is in mothers milk.
  8. Improves healthy insulin production.
  9. Protects cells against stress, and hence aging (in particular skin wrinkles).
  10. It is more easily mobilized and metabolized than other oils.
  11. Coconut oil even kept for an year at room temperature does not become rancid.
  12. The lowest rate of heart disease in India is in the state of Kerala, which heavily and almost exclusively uses coconut oil.
  13. Ever since cities in Thailand switched to refined oils heart disease has gone up (before they were exclusively using coconut oil).
  14. It is also extensively used as a hair oil in India, as opposed chemicals (I know it’s kept my hair from turning gray, and thick and healthy).
  15. A bath with coconut oil massage has an excellent cooling and rejuvenating effective for the body

Oils to Avoid

Absolutely avoid:

  • Cotton seed oil – cotton has one of the highest amount of unregulated pesticide use.
  • Corn oil – most corn oil is made from GMO corn.


Then why is olive oil marketed as the best? Simple, it is promoted by the olive oil industry. If people knew that sesame/coconut oils are better than (or have equal beneficial properties to) olive oil, the market will go to where the sesame seeds and coconuts are (obviously not in the West… but to India/Asia).

The oil industry will do whatever it takes to make sure that never happens. Unless the awareness/demand comes from grassroots, just like the demand for organic produce. The industry will do anything to fund research to come up with the smallest negative findings against coconut oil and sesame oil industry. FUD tactic (Fear Uncertainty, and Doubt). People are like a herd of goats (they don’t stop to think or question), they will blindly believe it and switch to olive oil.

Oils (and food in general) are holistically tuned to the environment and people inhabiting the environment. Olive oil is to Mediterraneans (their food habits, lifestyle, etc) as is sesame/coconut oil is to South Asians.

No single oil is the panacea of oils. Blindly switching to a particular oil is simply foolishness. Rather than switching to one particular oil, you should keep a variety of them in your kitchen (I keep sesame, coconut, olive, flax oil). Use all of them. Each one has its own benefits.The body knows how to extract what it needs from each.

Note: we have to keep in mind the life-styles in Kerala (it may not be just coconut oil usage that reduces their cardiovascular disease statistics), and life-style in Tamil Nadu (and the spices in their rasam, sambar, curry need to be taken into account also), same goes for Thailand their life-style also (not just the fact that they switched to refined oils).

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