Seed Oils vs Saturated Fat – Picking a Side

Watching the battles between the defenders of saturated fat and those defending seed oils has been fun. Recently, Dr. Layne Norton posted a video saying that seed oils were fine and maybe even beneficial to health. Paul Saladino MD responded to him with his video going through the studies that Norton used.

Saladino pointed out that Norton was using meta-studies to make his point, but when you looked at the studies included you find out that those showing saturated fat are worse included transfats. One of the studies showing saturated fat was worse included a group with a higher number of smokers.

Before watching these videos, I had a higher opinion of Norton than Saladino. Norton is good at attacking hyperbolic nonsense peddled by many contrarian health influencers. Meanwhile, Saladino has said some dumb stuff about carbs and insulin that he has only recently admitted he was wrong about. However, after watching these videos, I found Saladino more persuasive. He dove deeper into the data and uncovered points that Norton did not address.

Saladino did not convince me that saturated fat was safe or beneficial. He convinced me that the metastudies Norton used to show saturated fat to be harmful were flawed. Are there controlled studies with people at a healthy weight who are consuming saturated fat (but not transfats) that have a better or worse outcome than those consuming seed oils? That is the information I want to see.

I also found the end of the Saladino video regarding heavy metals in seed oils to be alarming. Norton just waved his hand and dismissed that point. I don’t know to the extent that environmental toxins are harming human health, but it is a concern of mine. I may need to add that to my 2022 seed oil debate post, although it could be connected to a potential metabolic lowering effect (#3).

Some of you can guess where I side on this issue. Am I on team saturated fat or team seed oils? Neither. I’m on team carbs.

I’m the guy with the camera. 😁

I minimize both saturated fat and seed oils.

I stopped using seed oils a decade ago. I don’t cook at high temperatures to minimize advanced glycation end products (AGEs). You don’t need seed oils if you have an Instant Pot. From PubMed:

Modern diets are largely heat-processed and as a result contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Dietary advanced glycation end products (dAGEs) are known to contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation, which are linked to the recent epidemics of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

This also means I’m not charring up meat on the grill. I consume very little red meat. In 2022, I did a dietary experiment during an elimination diet where I increased the amount of red meat I consumed. During this test period, I did not consume transfats or processed meats. My lipid levels got mostly worse, including a 41% increase in LDL.

I am aware that saturated fat defenders don’t like the LDL marker. I know their argument and I also know the rebuttals. On this point, I am slightly more persuaded by those who say elevated LDL is a concern. Many of the people who lied to me about carbs, insulin, legumes, and soy are some of the same people saying high LDL is perfectly fine.

But even if the LDL critics are correct, my health journey is all about risk reduction in the absence of knowledge. And since I lack certainty on this topic I choose to minimize saturated fat. Fish, avocados, and nuts/seeds seem to be the safest fats. If I need an oil, I reach for extra-virgin olive oil from California*.

*California EVOO is supposedly the least likely to be counterfeit.

Last Words

I am enjoying the back and forth in the seed oil and saturated fat debate. I think we are going to learn a lot in the coming years. I want to know how much this even matters to metabolically healthy people. In the meantime, I’ll continue eating a lower-fat diet with my Instant Pot.


Add yours

  1. *California EVOO is supposedly the least likely to be counterfeit.

    Please , if you can, explain these remarks.


  2. What do you think of Stephan Guyenet’s pro-dairy position? The sat fat in that seems beneficial (as well as the sat fat in cocoa). So maybe something else in red meat that is harmful.

  3. @Marc – There has been rampant fraud in the olive oil industry for years now. There has been lots of counterfeit olive oil coming out of Europe. If you search on news you will see lots of these stories are coming out of Spain, Italy, and Greece.

    I’m sure there is quality EVOO in lots of regions, but you need to do your homework. A friend of mine who researched this advised me to get California.

    @scmelville – I recall Guyenet made an offhand positive comment about dairy SF after Chris Kresser was on Joe Rogan. I like Stephan (met him twice here in Seattle) and know his nutritional roots are from the Weston A Price camp, which is very pro diary. His old blog probably has some pro-dairy stuff. I’m curious if he has a more recent deeper explanation.

  4. How long until you start selling “Team Carbs” t-shirts? 🙂

  5. Thanks MAS!
    I wonder though who certifies the California council for Olive oil?
    I make homemade Castile soap, therefore I want the best olive oil I can get , even though soap is a wash-off product.
    I have been using the Kirkland brand of olive oil, as the reviews were positive. It is a shame the world is so corrupt!
    Arthur Jones once commented on vacation destinations, and his advice on vacation hotspots was:

    “Any place other than planet earth!”

  6. @Marc – I think you are fine. Costco could not afford a reputational hit if it were ever discovered they were selling counterfeit EVOO. My guess is they do internal testing.

  7. I married into a a Greek family where olive oil is used in all cooking. It’s also used for holy blessings. The Greeks have been around for a while. So I’m not worrying about it. 🙂

  8. @Jim – Olive oil is not a seed oil. Seed oils are high in PUFA.

    With EVOO, you just need to make sure the brand is not counterfeit . I only buy California to reduce my risk.

  9. “Seed Oils vs Saturated Fat – Picking a Side“
    Both sides – losing hands!
    Dietary fats , especially saturated fats , evoke inflammation in the endothelial cells lining the inside of blood vessels. Increasing nitric oxide and decreasing dietary fat (the fat you wear) will help prevent cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular conditioning will aid the circulatory system to carry nutrition, oxygen, nitric oxide, and a plethora of other items to assist the process called life.

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