Why Refined Oil Is Bad For You?

Why Refined Oil Is Bad For You

Medical Reviewed by Sindhu Vas, Post Graduate in Nutrition and Food science

We are bombarded with different kind of advertisements regarding edible vegetable oils.

Far from educating us, they do a good job in confusing us! Of these all, the buzzword ‘refined’ features prominently in the adverts.

Table of Contents

What are refined oils? Are refined oils beneficial for good health?

Are refined oils the best cooking oil? What about the traditional oils recommended by grandmas since time immemorial?  

Let us focus the healthy magnifying glass on refined oils and gain some clarity.

What are Refined Oils?

Natural oil undergoes the refining process to produce an edible oil that is free of odour and flavour, has a light colour, good shelf life, and is also good for frying.

The oil refinery process may involve various processes such as bleaching, steam distillation, hydrogenation etc.

Ideally, these processing techniques should preserve the tocopherol (vitamin E variant naturally occurring in the oil) and must prevent any chemical changes in the oil to be considered good for health.

“ Refining may expose oils to high temperature, bleaching agent, deodouriser, degumming, dewaxing among all.”

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What does Refining Do to Your Oil?

Oil refinery, refining process of oil
What happens in refining oil?

The combination of high temperature, low pressure and stripping action of an inert gas  could result in physical losses that are undesirable.

Losses of nutritionally viable components such as tocopherol and sterols can happen.

Other processes such as hydrogenation lead to the formation of trans fatty acid, the one blamed in increasing the risk of heart disease.

The Solution: Cold Pressed Oil

If refined oil has little or no nutritional value, then what should you be buying?

Doctors and nutritionists suggest that you buy organic, unrefined, and cold processed vegetable oils.

Cold pressed oils are oils extracted in a much healthier process. In this process, seeds are not tortured at high temperatures or subjected to harsh chemicals.

Instead, temperatures below 40 degrees Celsius are used ensuring the oil maintains its character.

Once the oil settles, it is just filtered and bottled.  

cold pressed oil, healthy, no refining, unrefined oil
Cold pressed oil

Good Source of Antioxidants; Omega-3 and Omega-6

Since the oils are cold pressed, they do not lose out on naturally occurring Vitamin E or tocopherol. Plus, the oils also maintain their levels of essential fatty acids namely omega-3 and omega-6.

No trans Fat and Saturated Fat

No heat processing or chemical flushing means the oil is devoid of trans fat and saturated fats.

“Special Mention: Oils, unlike wine, don’t age well. Exposure to light, air, temperature (both cooking and environmental) and time can make them go ‘bad’ in taste and smell.

Refined oils, since being refined, can stand the test of the time for longer but for cold pressed oils, it is wiser to buy them in fewer quantities and use them up!”

Cold pressed oil, refined oil, vegetable oil
Cold pressed oil.

So have you made a choice about which oils to buy for good health?

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10 thoughts on “Why Refined Oil Is Bad For You?

    • Shobha Shastry says:


      We do not recommend any specific brands per se. The following oils can be cold pressed:
      – Sunflower
      -Sesame or til
      – Coconut oil
      -Canola oil
      Mustard oil

      So before you buy any oil from the market, read the label carefully to know if it is cold pressed or not. All the best!

    • Shobha Shastry says:

      Hello Renu,

      Cold pressing is a technology used to extract oil and can be done for a variety of them. Of all the oils, olive, sesame, canola, almond, sunflower and even coconut oil can be extracted by cold pressing.

    • mehnaz says:

      Hi Vijaya,

      It depends based on the seed/nuts used to extract oils. For eg, in the case of coconut oil extractions, during expelling process, some amount of heat is generated that results in the loss of few nutrients. However, this does not happen during cold pressing of coconuts. We hope we are able to answer your question. For more articles on healthy diets and recipe, keep following our blogs and do keep writing to us.

  1. Tanveer says:

    How about rice bran oil which relatively has high fractions of tocopherols and tocotrienols, together as vitamin E? Also it mentions that it help improves good cholesterol.

    • shama says:

      Hi Tanveer, rice bran oil is very good edible and frying oil. It has high amount of Oryzanol which is natural antioxidant

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