Proper Storage for Nuts, Oils and Whole Grains

nuts in a jar
Nuts in a jar.

Do you know what nuts, oils and whole grains have in common? All three contain fat.

Heat, light and air all damage fat and make it rancid. You probably have learned the hard way that rancid fat doesn’t taste or smell very good, but it also can damage other nutrients, and it may contribute to digestion issues and chronic disease.

Protect yourself from spoiled or rancid fat by properly storing your nuts, oils and whole grains in the cold.


  • Raw nuts will last about one month in an airtight container in a dry, cool area. Toss them in the fridge for extra protection or in the freezer, where they will last for years.
  • Roasted nuts and nut butters have already been exposed to heat and oxygen. Buy these in small quantities that you can quickly finish.


  • Keep oils (e.g., olive, walnut, sesame, flaxseed) in the fridge to extend freshness. If your oil gets cloudy, then simply bring it back to room temperature and the oil will turn clear.
  • If you don’t have room in the fridge, buy small quantities that you will use quickly and store in a dark cupboard away from heat.

Whole Grains

  • Whole grains will last up to six months in an airtight container on a cool, dry shelf. But, if you have space, keep them in the fridge for extra protection.
  • Whole grains can be kept in the freezer for a year and will not be damaged while freezing or thawing.
  • Whole grain flours or meals spoil more quickly because the grain’s protective outer coating is ground up. Store flours and meals in airtight containers for one to three months on a cool, dry shelf or longer in the fridge. Store in the freezer for an extended life of six months.

— By Jessica Stern, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.