There’s a new bad boy on the block. Just when we thought sugar was as bad as it could possibly get, this bad boy could be even MORE detrimental to our health and wellbeing.
The murmurings about vegetable and seed oils began in earnest about the same time as the pandemic started and are now being shouted about all over the place. So what exactly is the issue and which oils are we talking about?
Vegetable oils such as sunflower, canola, soy and corn are highly processed and have only been part of the human diet since the early part of the twentieth century when the technology to process them was invented.
The first product to arrive from this chemical process was Crisco
It was made from cottonseed oil and an advertising blitz gave people the impression that it was healthier than the saturated animal fats that were more typically used at that time. And a marketing phenomenon was born. Other refined vegetable oils were soon to follow.
What a travesty this marketing lie turned out to be
It led us away from all the healthful fats that had been traditionally used for generations. Along the way, many decades later, fats were further demonised by the low fat craze, now known to be based on incorrect information.
Butter was replaced with chemically processed transfats like margarine
It’s taken a long time for traditional cold pressed oils and animal fats to be embraced again and now finally the truth about highly processed oils is being revealed. Why are these processed oils so bad for us? It’s because the heat processing techniques that are used to extract the oil from the seeds on an industrial scale, degrades the molecular structure of the fat. This chemical process increases the yield of the oil as compared with traditional cold pressing.
How does this chemical process affect our health?
These vegetable oils are highly inflammatory and raise our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio ( as they are mostly high in omega 6 ), which badly impacts our health. For optimal health we should all be eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
Besides containing harmful additives and often being derived from GMO crops ( soy and corn in particular ), these seeds also oxidize easily which causes oxidation in our bodies ( think of rust ).
But possibly the worst thing of all is that when these seeds are repeatedly heated, they create toxic by-products that turn into trans and hydrogenated fats. Our system is then flooded with free radicals.
It should also be noted that most of these oils are unstable unsaturated fatty acids (mostly poly-unsaturated fats) and therefore unstable under heat as the fat becomes reactive. They should therefore NOT be used for heated cooking ( as well as for anything else )
It’s a veritable horror show
And these vegetable oils are in everything for the simple reason that they are cheap. The bottom line is that these food manufacturers do not care about your health. They care about their profit.
The most important advice I can give is to always read the label
You will be shocked to see that vegetable oils are even added to supposedly healthy foods. Even foods found in organic supermarkets. That really surprised me and put me off some brands that I’d been using for years. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.
It’s confusing to know what’s good and what’s bad so here’s a list to help.
- vegetable oils
- sunflower oil
- safflower oil
- rapeseed oil
- canola oil
- corn oil
- soybean oil
- rice bran oil
- peanut oil
- sesame oil
- grapeseed oil
- cottonseed oil
BEST FOR HEATED COOKING:
- coconut oil
- avocado oil
- palm oil (however many environmental concerns with this so maybe best to avoid)
BEST FOR COLD FOODS:
- olive oil (go for cold pressed extra virgin)
- avocado oil
- MCT oil (very healthful although I mostly add to shakes and coffee)
And another thing:
I haven’t mentioned nut oils but these are high in polyunsaturates so not suitable for heated cooking. An exception is macadamia oil which, like olive oil, is mostly mono-unsaturated. It can therefore be used for low heat cooking. Nut oils can also go rancid easily so best not to keep for too long. However if produced traditionally, great to use on salads etc.
Most oils and fats go rancid quite quickly so buy them in small batches. Heat, oxygen and light cause this to happen which is why it’s best to keep your oils in a dark, cool place.