Why those 'heart healthy' vegetable oils should be left off your grocery list
The consumption of ‘heart healthy’ vegetable and seed oil has increased drastically over the past few decades. People have shunned natural fat sources such as butter and lard in favour of these oils that are produced in something that looks more like a meth lab than your grandmas kitchen. So why is everyone telling us that these oils are good for us if they aren’t? They are cheap as dirt to produce.
Lets take canola oil for example. What even is ‘canola’? Canola FYI isn’t even a seed but the oil is actually derived from the rapeseed (which apparently isn’t so good for marketing...). Rapeseeds are great for business, but terrible for you. These oils are manufactured using an extraction process that involves bleaching, deodorizing and the highly toxic solvent hexane. Then because they are cheap, you’ll find them in ‘healthy’ salad dressings, mayonnaises and butter replicates.
Why are they so bad?
The biggest problem with industrial seed oils is that they are way to high in omega-6 fatty acids. Overconsumption of these processed omega-6s creates an inappropriate inflammatory response in the body, which has been linked to obesity, arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
Humans evolved on a diet with a ratio of Omega-6 to omega-3 of approximately 1
At this ratio omega-6 fatty acids are health promoting in the diet. However nowadays with the increase in industrial oils and processed food in the diet, it is estimated that we are consuming a ratio of around 16 to 1.
Another problem with these oils is that they are easily oxidized. Polyunsaturated fats (such as your omega-6s) contain two or more double bonds. This means that oxygen can easily react with the fatty acids, in turn damaging them. Oxidized oils can then form harmful free radicals in the body which has been linked to a whole variety of diseases. Highly oxidative oils can also promote weight gain and insulin resistance. It is also interesting to note that whilst many people report that saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease, the attention is now turning to trans fats and seed and vegetable oils. Many studies have suggested that an increased intake of seed oils increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
So what should you be avoiding?
Vegetable and seed oils that you should avoid due to a high level of Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids include:
· Canola oil
· Rice bran oil
· Soybean oil
· Peanut oil
· Safflower oil
· Sunflower oil
· All margarines with no exception! Even the ‘heart healthy olive oil’ spreads are usually just a blend of mostly canola oil with a bit of olive oil mixed in so that they can claim it is good for you.
It is crucially important to read the labels of all the products that you buy as many things you think wouldn’t contain these harmful oils in fact do.
For high heat cooking saturated fats are best. This is because they are stable and very heat resistant. These include butter, coconut oil and ghee.
Extra virgin olive oil is also good for cooking at lower temperatures and is also good for salad dressings along with macadamia, avocado or flaxseed oils.
In saying that, this information is not meant to create paranoia. In small amounts or consumed infrequently, it’s quite likely that the effects will be minimal. As with everything, the dose makes the poison!
The takeaway message? Real food- natural plants and animals that we have been consuming for thousands of generations is always the safer choice.