What does our sixth expert have to say about dietary oils?

Part 6 of the Experts and Oils Series
See Part 1 – Dr. Neal Barnard
See Part 2 – Dr. Joel Fuhrman
See Part 3 – Dr. Mark Hyman
See Part 4 – Dr. Joseph Mercola
See Part 5 – Dr. Bobby Price

Andrew Weil, MD

MD: Harvard Medical School
AB: Biology (Botany and Ethnobotany) – Harvard University

Dr. Weil is a renowned American physician, author and spokesperson for integrative medicine. He’s widely known for his advocacy of integrative medicine, which combines conventional and alternative approaches to healthcare. He’s written several bestselling books on topics ranging from holistic health to nutrition. Weil’s books include the national bestsellers Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Eating Well for Optimum Health and The Healthy Kitchen. Through his work, Dr. Weil has become a prominent figure in the field of holistic health and wellness, inspiring millions of people to adopt healthier lifestyles and explore alternative healing modalities.

Dr. Weil is also the founder and director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he’s a clinical professor of internal medicine and continues to research, teach and promote integrative approaches to healthcare. He’s also editorial director of drweil.com, an online resource for healthy living based on an integrative medicine philosophy. Plus, he authors a monthly column for Prevention magazine.

Dr. Weil does not exclusively advocate for veganism, but he does support a plant-based diet and emphasizes the importance of consuming whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

No.

“In my opinion, some of the worst of these — both for your health and for the health of the planet — are sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, soy, rice bran, and canola oil. Instead, I recommend using fruit oils (olive and avocado) and the newly available cultured oil made from fermented cultures of micro-organisms, all of which are high in healthy monounsaturated fat.”

Dr. Weil cautions against the consumption of seed oils due to their damaging effects on health. He highlights a concerning trend wherein the global prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions has shown a steady increase parallel to the rise in seed oil consumption. According to him, this correlation is no coincidence.

When discussing the amounts of Omega-6 fats in seed oils, Dr. Weil says, “While small amounts of omega-6 fats are necessary for optimal health, too much of them contributes to chronic inflammation. That’s especially true if you’re consuming more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats than anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats — something that’s all too easy these days.”

Dr. Weil also reminds us that the linoleic acid in vegetable oils oxidizes easily — especially when heated — which can lead to cellular damage from free radicals.

Coconut Oil

Not a fan.

He recommends avoiding coconut oil, saying it should play a very limited role, if any, in our diet because it’s a highly saturated fat that’s been shown to raise LDL cholesterol and therefore poses a threat to heart health.

He also cautions: “Don’t be fooled by claims that Pacific island populations who consume lots of coconut (though not necessarily coconut oil) have low rates of heart disease. That may be true, but their traditional diet – rich in fish, fruit and vegetables and lacking in refined sugar, soft drinks and processed foods – is quite different from ours.”

So, overall, while coconut oil can be included in a balanced diet, Dr. Weil says to use it sparingly and opt for healthier alternatives like olive oil or avocado oil, which offer greater nutritional benefits.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is known by various names, including Palm Kernel Oil, Palmitate and Glyceryl Stearate.

According to Dr. Weil, while fresh palm fruit oil, often referred to as “red palm oil,” offers nutritional benefits, it’s crucial to differentiate it from palm kernel oil and the heavily processed variants of crude palm oil commonly found in roughly half of the packaged goods in American grocery stores. These processed forms are deemed unhealthy for human consumption and are associated with irresponsible agricultural practices in tropical regions, posing environmental concerns.

Unlike palm oil, palm kernel oil cannot be obtained organically. Instead, the oil must be extracted from the pit using a hydrocarbon solvent similar to gasoline. In essence, palm kernel oil is a low-cost, unhealthy fat, and Dr. Weil advises us to steer clear of food products containing it.

He states, “The bottom line is that of all these oils, organic, minimally processed palm oil is the healthiest, followed by conventionally processed palm oil. Palm kernel oil is less healthy still, and fractionated palm oil is the least desirable.”

Dr. Weil has a large social media presence. A quick Google search will uncover details about Dr. Weil, his influence and his opinions. Find him if you want to learn more about his stance on dietary oils and other nutrition topics.

This wraps up our series. I hope you found these articles helpful!


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