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Selo Olive Oil

What is Linox? The Ratio of Linoleic Acid to Antioxidants in Olive Oil and More

Butter and extra virgin olive oil on a sunlit marble surface, illustrating the antioxidant benefits and balanced nutritional profile emphasized by the Linox Ratio.

The Linox Ratio is the ratio of linoleic acid to antioxidants in cooking oils, measured by the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC). ORAC is a standardized method of measuring an oil's ability to absorb and neutralize free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can cause oxidative stress and damage in the body. The ORAC value is typically expressed in micromoles of Trolox equivalents per 100 grams (µmol TE/100g). Trolox is a vitamin E analog used as a standard for comparison, ensuring a consistent measure across different substances.

Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, vary from oil to oil, making ORAC a more reliable metric. By considering both linoleic acid content and antioxidant capacity, the Linox Ratio provides a nuanced perspective on the healthfulness of cooking oils.

Traditional Rankings by Linoleic Acid Content

Traditionally, cooking oils have been evaluated based on their linoleic acid (LA) content alone. Linoleic acid is a type of omega-6 fatty acid, often scrutinized for its potential role in inflammation and chronic health conditions. However, it's important to note that linoleic acids are essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies cannot produce them, and we need them for various physiological functions. Without adequate linoleic acid, you could face issues such as poor wound healing, hair loss, and weakened immune function.

Here’s a traditional ranking of popular oils based on their linoleic acid content, from lowest to highest:

  1. Grass-Fed Beef Tallow: 2%
  2. Butter: 2%
  3. Coconut Oil: 2%
  4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 10%
  5. Avocado Oil: 13%
  6. Canola Oil: 21%
  7. Peanut Oil: 32%
  8. Soybean Oil: 51%
  9. Sunflower Oil: 68%
  10. Grapeseed Oil: 73%

While these rankings provide a basic understanding, they overlook the crucial role of antioxidants in mitigating the potential harms of linoleic acid.

The New Paradigm: Ranking by the Linox Ratio

The Linox Ratio offers a more comprehensive assessment by factoring in the antioxidant capacity of oils. This ratio is calculated by taking the percentage of linoleic acid and normalizing it against the ORAC value per 100g Trolox equivalent. This approach provides a unit-less ratio, offering a distilled comparison of the oils' health benefits and oxidative stability.

Here’s how the oils rank when we consider both their linoleic acid content and ORAC value:

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 10% / 803 µmol TE/100g = 0.012
  2. Peanut Oil: 32% / 650 µmol TE/100g = 0.05
  3. Butter: 2% / 1.7 µmol TE/100g = 1.18
  4. Canola Oil: 21% / 134.45 µmol TE/100g = 0.16
  5. Soybean Oil: 51% / 9.1 µmol TE/100g = 2.04
  6. Avocado Oil: 13% / 5.8 µmol TE/100g = 2.24
  7. Coconut Oil: 2% / 0.8 µmol TE/100g = 2.5
  8. Sunflower Oil: 68% / 15 µmol TE/100g = 4.53
  9. Grass-Fed Beef Tallow: 2% / 0.39 µmol TE/100g = 5.12
  10. Grapeseed Oil: 73% / 12 µmol TE/100g = 6.08

1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6617199/

3,9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20096093/

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407755/

2,7,8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8781370/

Note: A website called Superfoodly displays ORAC values but does not rigorously verify their references. The authors of this website (Selo) discourage referencing them. For example, they claim butter has an ORAC value of 760, yet the referenced article itself states, "Margarine, butter, canola, corn and soybean oil are the highest-ranking products in the 'Fats and oils' category. Almost half of the fats and oils have antioxidant content between 0.4 and 1.7 mmol/100 g."

Caveats

While the Linox Ratio provides valuable insight into the balance between linoleic acid content and antioxidant capacity, it's important not to blindly minimize ORAC values or PUFA content. Just as many people minimize PUFA intake due to the negative perception of seed oils on social media, it's crucial to maintain optimal ratios of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats (ideally between 4:1 and as close to 1:1 as possible) and keep saturated fat consumption to less than 10% of daily caloric intake.

Remember, oxidation doesn't just happen in the cooking pan. It also occurs during chewing, digestion, exposure to sunlight, and exercise. Cooking is just the beginning and one area where we have some control, so it's sensible to minimize damage there as much as possible. The Linox Ratio helps provide a clearer picture of the overall stability and health benefits of different oils, but it should be used as part of a broader strategy for healthy eating.

The Superior Stability of Olive Oil: A Linox Ratio Analysis

This ranking reveals a significant shift when antioxidant capacity is considered. Olive oil, known for its rich polyphenol profile, ranks highest with the lowest Linox Ratio, indicating a balance between linoleic acid and antioxidant protection. With this new ranking, the polyunsaturated fats in olive oil appear to be up to 4 orders of magnitude more cooking stable than those found in beef tallow.

While saturated fats are generally more stable, no animal fat is 100% free of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) regardless of quality, and as far as anyone knows, there are no PUFA-free tallows or butters. The main concern is the formation of harmful peroxidation products, such as lipid aldehydes, during cooking, which are dangerous in any quantity when ingested.

Recall, PUFAs are essential because the body cannot synthesize them on its own. They play a crucial role in brain function and cell growth. However, it's vital to prevent their oxidation to retain these health benefits.

This is where olive oil shines; its high antioxidant content acts as a protective buffer against oxidation, despite having a relatively higher PUFA content compared to most animal fats (10-12% vs. 2-3%)

The Importance of Antioxidants

Antioxidants play a crucial role in mitigating the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Oils with higher antioxidant content, such as EVOO and peanut oil, offer protective benefits that extend beyond their fat composition. These antioxidants, including polyphenols, tocopherols (vitamin E), and flavonoids, help maintain cellular health, reduce inflammation, and support overall well-being. By incorporating oils rich in these antioxidants into your diet, you can enhance your body's defense against oxidative damage.

Practical Implications for Your Diet

When choosing cooking oils, it’s essential to consider both their linoleic acid content and antioxidant capacity. Oils with a low Linox Ratio provide a balanced intake that supports health. Incorporating a variety of these oils into your diet can enhance the nutritional quality of your meals.

"We aim to use cooking oils with the lowest Linox Ratio, which means the lowest amount of linoleic acids relative to antioxidants."

The Linox Ratio offers a fresh perspective on evaluating cooking oils, emphasizing the importance of balancing linoleic acid with antioxidants. By considering this ratio, you can make more informed choices that support your health and well-being. Remember, the goal is not to eliminate any particular type of fat but to ensure a balanced intake that leverages the benefits of antioxidants. So, next time you reach for a cooking oil, think about the Linox Ratio and choose oils that provide the best balance for your diet.

For a top choice, consider Selo Croatian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which offers a superb Linox Ratio with its rich antioxidant content and balanced linoleic acid. Enhance your meals and support your health with this high-quality oil.