A few weeks ago I hosted a radio show called “Processed To Death” where I discussed the issues with processed oils (vegetable oils and other partially hydrogenated plant-based oils) as they have now been linked to creating an extensive amount of inflammation in your body (which is now connected to every health issues from sinus congestion, diabetes, hardening of arteries and even cancer).
The insane reality is we are being lied to on a daily basis. Hop on over to the American Heart Association’s website (www.heart.org) and type in “Healthy Cooking Oils” and you will see them suggest you use the following “healthy oils”: Canola, Corn, Olive, Peanut, Safflower, Soybean and Sunflower.
They advise replacing “bad fats” with those listed above as they are “healthier fats” and “better for your heart.” Their suggestion is to use these oils instead of solid fats (including butter) and tropical oils (palm and coconut) which, according to them, are unhealthy saturated fats.
I am glad you don’t fall for this sort of paid advertising by the food agencies! Lets take a quick look at how dangerous these “heart healthy” oils are and provide you a quick list of the healthy oils you should be using instead.
Canola oil is a refined oil that is often partially hydrogenated to increase its stability and shelf life. 90-95% of all Canola Oil sold in the US is produced by chemically extracting the oil from a rapeseed. Several studies have confirmed that canola oil consumption can lead to kidney and liver problems, worsening of heart disease, hypertension and strokes, and raising total cholesterol. This is mainly due to the presence of eruct acid, a naturally occurring fat found in rapeseeds, which is known to cause health problems. It is my recommendation and suggestion to avoid Canola Oil like the plague – which is extremely difficult because it’s considered to be the world’s healthiest oil – and is found in many “health food” items, prepared foods and even widely used and sold in health food stores.
Corn oil is extracted from corn germ and has a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Like canola, the majority of corn is produced by a chemical extraction from genetically modified corn. Research by Joel Spiroux de Vendomois published in the “International Journal of Biological Science” in 2009 reports that consumption of genetically modified corn causes toxicity of the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen and heart in rats. The research demonstrates the level of toxicity is often dose dependent, meaning that as consumption of genetically modified corn increases, the level of toxicity increases. Corn oil is the key ingredient in margarine and is the most common oil to be used in the restaurant industry. Again, should be avoided like the plague!
In its natural, raw, cold-pressed and unheated state, olive oil is an amazingly healthy oil–and one I personally recommend you do use – AS LONG AS YOU NEVER HEAT IT! Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), which have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective. When olive oil is heated above 200F (which is a very low heat point) the MUFAs break down, become oxidized and encourage the release of a carcinogenic product known as Acrylamide when food is cooked in it. Its my recommendation that olive oil be consumed regularly, but only raw, at room temperature or chilled, drizzled or dressing only.
If you were only to look at its molecular make up, peanut oil “looks good.” It’s high in MUFAs and low in PUFAs and low in saturated fat. But several animal studies are now pointing out that peanut oil has been shown to increase inflammation and oxidation of cholesterol in arteries, i.e., it “clogs arteries.” Peanut oil is becoming a popular replacement for corn oil in the restaurant industry – but watch out – due to its moderately low smoke point (400F), it too can easily become oxidized when heated. An additional concern with peanut oil is the significant rise in peanut based allergies – which makes the use of this oil again suspect.
Safflower oil is oil made from safflower seeds. It is a clear odorless and tasteless oil commonly used in salad dressings and occasionally to cook foods. Safflower oil is a potent source of polyunsaturated fats, or PUFAs, and several studies have been published suggesting safflower oil simultaneously decreases the good cholesterol levels (called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol as well lowering LDL cholesterol. Another Japanese study found that safflower oil consumption has been linked to kidney damage in animals. Additionally, compared to other healthy oils, Safflower oil is also essentially nutrient neutral – it doesn’t contain Vitamin E or other common antioxidants normally found in seed oils like chia, flax or hemp.
I could write an entire article on the dangers of soybean oil and I hope you can see why Dr. Joseph Mercola calls soybean oil “a dangerous food to consume, second only to high fructose corn syrup.” Soybean oil is hydrogenated oil. The process of hydrogenating liquids has been found to have unfavorable health consequences. Hydrogenated oil have been linked to cancer, obesity, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, decreased immune system, increased bad cholesterol and reproductive problems. Many of these issues are directly related to the trans fats that remain in the partially hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oil is something that absolutely cannot be found in nature. The process that is used to synthesize this oil increases the dangers.
The concern regarding hydrogenated soybean oil does not only involve the process of hydrogenation — it also involves the bean itself. Soy grown in the United States is the most genetically engineered crop to be extremely high in fat (an “heirloom” soybean would be low in fat and high in protein). Genetically modified soybeans can mimic estrogen within the body, thereby throwing hormones into a state of flux. They also contain toxins, called anti-nutrients, which may inhibit the ability for people to digest the very protein that is supposed to make them healthy. Even straight soybean oil, which has not been hydrogenated, is still not compatible with a truly healthy diet. Monsanto has developed some specialty soybeans that claim to be healthier, but genetically engineered crops should be met with some skepticism. There have been scientific studies that indicate that genetically engineered soybeans are linked to infertility in animals, and no comparable tests concerning humans have been run to determine whether there could be a risk.
Good fats and oils for cooking
Butter: Grass fed butter is rich in the fat soluble vitamins A, E and K2. K2 has powerful abilities to reverse heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. NOTE: Butter has a low smoke point (200F) so only cook with it on LOW HEAT. Discard if it has “browned.”
Tallow: Similar to butter, but made from animal fat. Grass fed beef tallow is the best in my opinion as it has an extremely high smoke point (400F) and offers exceptional flavor and frying power. High in CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) a fat that has been shown to improve brain function and reduce inflammation.
Coconut Oil: All around exceptional oil – high in MUFAs and Medium Chain Triglycerides, its estimated that coconut oil can replace 77 household items and has over 200 known “cures” for various diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. High smoke point of 350F makes it exceptional for cooking.
Avocado Oil: Avocado oil wins the “Gold Medal” for high heat stability with a smoke point of 520F. High in Oleic acid, Lutein and all fat soluble vitamins, avocado oil has been shown to reduce cholesterol, ease joint pains and even reduce and eliminate plaque in arteries. This is one oil you can use in everything from dressings to drizzles and it even has an exceptional taste. If you have not yet ventured out into this amazing cooking oil – I highly suggest you try it.