Is Walnut Oil Paleo?
What is Walnut Oil?
Walnut oil is a lightly colored and slightly nutty-flavored cooking oil. It’s often used on salads to give it a slightly nutty taste. However, unrefined walnut oil is generally not used for pan-frying due to its low smoke point (320F or 160C). The oil is also reported to turn bitter when heated (which makes them not all that appetizing).
Is Walnut Oil Paleo?
Quick Answer: No (but ok in small amounts occasionally).
It would seem at first glance that walnut oil would be Paleo since walnuts are Paleo, however, as you know from reading Paleo Flourish Magazine, that’s not all we want to look at when determine whether something is Paleo or not.
Instead, we need to focus on what nutrients that food provides versus how much toxins it provides.
For walnut oil, the toxins definitely seem to win out over the nutrients.
If you really want to purchase a walnut oil, then we recommend this cold-pressed walnut oil (available on Amazon).
Health Benefits of Walnut Oil
On the plus side, walnuts and walnut oil have been shown to be stress reducers (something we all need in our modern lives).
A 2010 study by a team of Penn State researchers found the following:
“This is the first study to show that walnuts and walnut oil reduce blood pressure during stress…This is important because we can’t avoid all of the stressors in our daily lives. This study shows that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.”
This study and others on the benefits of omega-3 fats have prompted some in the health and nutrition fields to fall head over heels in love with walnuts and walnut oil, including Dr. Oz’s blog and Mark Sisson (note that this post on the benefits of walnut oil dates back to 2008 and his recent posts suggest a change of views!).
Toxins in Walnut Oil
A quick breakdown of the different oils in walnut oil highlights the crucial toxin at issue:
53% Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
10% Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
23% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)
9% saturated fatty acids
While walnut oil does contain some “healthy” omega-3 fats, it is also extremely high in omega-6 fats. One of the important evaluations to consider when looking at cooking oils is to ensure that there is a 1:2 or 1:1 ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
Here, for walnut oil, the ratio is 1:5 omega-3 to omega-6 fats, which is way too high for it to be good for us. For a detailed explanation of why having too much omega-6 fats is detrimental to our health, read this article.
So, if you love a drizzle of walnut oil on your salad occasionally, then it’s definitely not going to kill you. However, I would definitely follow Mark Sisson’s newer advice:
“I definitely would advise against using this on a regular basis, especially for cooking, and you should always store it in a dark, cool spot in the house.”