Vegetable oils come in many different guises. Canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, grape-seed oil and margarine are all forms of vegetable oil. They sound healthy. They have been stringently marketed as being healthy.
Marketers have even claimed they lower cholesterol and blood pressure, increase weight loss and improve our health. But is this the truth? We certainly seem to believe so. Since the 1950’s when marketing companies implored us to avoid saturated fats and instead eat vegetable oils which contain monosaturated fats, we consume 70lbs of vegetable oils per year. This is huge.
Prior to 1900 no one ate vegetable oils at all. This is because it took the onset of the industrial revolution to be able to produce it. The industrial process involved in producing these ‘healthy’ oils is the first area of major concern. There is nothing healthy about the manufacturing of vegetable oils.
How Are Vegetable Oils Produced?
In order to extract the oil from the original produce and to make it edible and palatable there is a sophisticated process of pressing, heating and manipulating with industrial chemicals and toxic solvents.
Canola Oil is actually made from rapeseed. Rapeseed contains high amounts of Erucic Acid which is poisonous to the human body. The rapeseed is therefore often genetically modified and treated with pesticides in order to create a version that is low in Erucic Acid.
It is then heated with Petroleum, mixed with Acid to remove an unpleasant texture, treated with more chemicals to improve the color, and deodorized to enable a more palatable odor.
Too Much Polyunsaturated Fat is Not a Good Thing
If this hasn’t put you off, there is significant research to show that the plethora of problems that arise from eating these ‘healthy oils’ can be easily explained. Vegetable oils contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fats. In order to maintain healthy balance in our bodies we need to respect its natural biochemistry.
We must compliment the body’s natural systems in order to support it in doing its work. If we do not honor these, our bodies begin to change beyond their natural make up. Our bodies are made up of only 3% polyunsaturated fats; however, by ingesting oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats we are creating an imbalance.
Polyunsaturated fats are what’s known as a double bond. They are highly unstable and oxidize in the body causing inflammation and mutation at a cellular level. By flooding our systems with too much Omega 6 (polyunsaturated fatty acids) we can actually cause structural changes in our fat stores and cell membranes.
The body needs the right ratio of fats, saturated and mono-saturated. We must provide our bodies with Omega 6 and Omega 3 as it does not produce this internally. We must supply our bodies these fatty acids in appropriate amounts; otherwise our bodies will become severely imbalanced.
Omega 6 and Omega 3 work in direct relationship to each other. Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory and Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory. The more Omega 6 we have, the more Omega 3 we need. It has become common in a western diet for people to have high levels of Omega 6 and low levels of Omega 3. This can cause increased inflammation and contribute to cardiovascular disease, arthritis and severe depression.
There are even studies suggesting a correlation between the consumption of polyunsaturated fats and homicide. As polyunsaturated fats affect the body at a cellular and hormonal level studies also suggest a relationship between increased consumption and skin cancer, fertility problems and fetal and child development.
In addition to all of this, the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils are modified so that they solidify at room temperature. This makes them high in Trans fats. Trans fats are so toxic even governments have ordered manufacturers to reduce the amounts in food. Trans fats may be responsible for a number of diseases including diabetes and obesity.
So What Can I Eat Instead?
The diet of our ancestors was healthier than ours. They did not have access to processed foods. What they ate was what was naturally provided. We are not supposed to eat processed foods! Oils for cooking are easy to supplement. Olive Oil is not chemically processed. Olive Oil can be extracted just by pressing. Coconut Oil similarly is great for cooking and is not manufactured through a chemical process. Simple butter and lard were good enough for our predecessors.
Where avoiding vegetable oils is more tricky is in becoming aware of all the bi- products which contain vegetable oils. So many of the processed foods we are used to consuming may have this ingredient: salad dressing and other condiments such as Mayonnaise, chips, cookies, crackers, and even some supermarket nuts. The ingredient may be disguised, so look out for labels such as ‘partially hydrogenated corn”.