Grapeseed Oil

Denise sent in a great question about grapeseed oil: is it a healthy choice?

Grapeseed oil is fairly new on our cooking oil radar in the United States. The seeds of wine grapes are pressed and the oils extracted, producing a very mild tasting oil with a clean flavor, lending itself easily to dishes where no competing flavors are wanted. Most of our grapeseed oil is imported from France and Switzerland.

Grapeseed oil has a medium-high smoking point, making it a good choice for baking, oven cooking, or stir frying at a medium-high heat. However, when heated too high, it begins to smoke, causing it to become inedible. At this point, free radicals begin to form with their cancer-causing potential. 

Canola, olive, peanut, and grapeseed oils all have similar smoking points, and are rich in heart healthy unsaturated fats, which includes both poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats. Poly-unsaturated fats are considered heart health when used to replace saturated or trans-fats. Used in this way, grapeseed oil and other unsaturated fats can increase HDL, decrease LDL, and can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Oil % Mono % Poly % Sat Nutrition Notes
Canola 62 31 7 Contains low levels of omega-3
Grapeseed 17 73 10 High in omega-6
Macadamia nut 84 3 13 Bold flavor
Extra virgin olive 78 8 14 Best-pick oil
Peanut 48 34 18 Great for stir frying

However, grapeseed oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids. Is that a concern?

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both essential; the human body cannot make them and must be obtained from food. These fats are necessary for brain function and for normal growth and development, including healthy hair, bone, metabolism, and reproduction.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids suggest protective against heart disease, stroke, inflammation, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases, and perhaps some types of cancer. 
  • Omega-6 fatty acids. Newer studies suggest may lower LDL, inflammation, and promote heart health. Other studies indicate that higher intakes may narrow blood vessels and increase inflammation. Safflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils are rich sources. Most people in the U.S. consume high levels of these oils.

    The nutritional advice used to be to balance the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids at at least a 2:1 ratio. Eat more omega-3's than omega-6's. More resent research suggest that both omega's have a positive impact on health so the focus on more omega 3's to 6's may be unwarranted. 

    Keep olive oil in its easy to access place with its rich source of monounsaturated fats. When you need a mild flavored oil, you could try grapeseed or simply use canola. It's a great source of mono-unsaturated fats and even has some omega-3 fatty acids sprinkled in. 

    I say, go ahead and experiment with grapeseed oil! Priced similarly to olive oil, you may just find it fun new oil to use occasionally in different dishes. It may just find a spot next to my favorite toasted sesame oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, and white truffle olive oil...