The consumption of sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and other processed seed and vegetable oils have drastically increased in the past 100 years. They practically didn’t exist in our diets until the beginning of the 1900s. These vegetable oils can’t be extracted as butter or Omega-3-rich coconut oil by pressing or separating naturally.
Margarine and vegetable oils are often over-recommended as ‘heart healthy oils’ and referred to as alternatives to cheese, butter, and other saturated fats that in fact cause clogged arteries.
However, according to a recent research, vegetable oils are not as good as recommended and can be more harmful than beneficial to the human’s body.
13 Reasons Why Vegetable Oils Are Harmful for You
1. Vegetable oils contain Omega 6 which can cause inflammation and be the culprit for many serious diseases like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression. These mutations cause inflammation that in arterial cells can lead to clogged arteries. If these fats incorporate into skin cells, their mutation can lead to skin cancer.
2. Omega-3 fats’ health benefits are over-rated. Actually, you need to know that according to WHO, the recommended Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is 4:1, with a maximum of 10:1. But, what’s most worrying is that this ratio in the average American is between 10:1 and 25:1.
3. Before 1922, the ratio between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids was likely around 4:1 and 1:2. But nowadays, the average ratio is 16:1, although these values vary greatly between individuals. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids stay in the cell membranes, thus increasing dangerous oxidization chain reactions. If you consume excessive amounts of vegetable oils, your fat stores and cell membranes will go through actual structural changes.
4. These oils are harmful to the reproductive system and fetuses. Male and female reproductive system is continuously producing and dividing new cells, which raises the risk of mutation and problems when these cells are produced from the bad type of fats and oxidized. The higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids in breast milk are linked to impaired immune function in infants.
5. The production of hormones is dependent on certain fats, so excess consumption of vegetable oils can also affect this process. Vegetable oils which are hardened by hydrogenation in the production of margarine or shortening are especially harmful, since the natural consistency of vegetable oils at these temperatures is not solid.
6. This type of oil is not chemically stable and readily reacts with oxygen, turning into saturated fats and cholesterol in the human’s body.
7. When heated, these oils turn into trans fats– fats associated with heart disease, brain atrophy, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. They are also found in processed foods labeled as ‘partially hydrogenated’ or ‘hydrogenated’. US vegetable oils contain between 0.56% and 4.2% trans fats, which were banned in New York back in 2012.
8. Four percent intake is enough to cause Omega-6 toxicity. Nowadays, around nine percent of our calories come from vegetable oils. Since the healthy range is considered to be 2-3%, make sure you reduce your intake by 60 to 70 percent.
9. The content of most vegetable oils and their products includes the artificial antioxidants Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHA and BHT). These chemicals prevent quick food oxidation and spoilage. BHA and BHT have been proven to produce potential cancer-causing compounds in the human’s body, and are associated with kidney and liver damage, sterility/infertility, immune problems, behavioral problems in children, and high cholesterol.
10. Vegetable oils often come from GM sources, and their content includes residues of chemicals and pesticides used in their manufacture and growth.
11. Lots of vegetable oils are already damaged before we even buy them. The reason is because they contain high amounts of polyunsaturated fats which become rancid at room temperature.
12. Vegetable oils deplete the human’s body of antioxidants. This is because they oxidize easily and the body is trying to neutralize this oxidation by using these antioxidants. High consumption of these oils and their products increases the chances of Vitamin E deficiency, among many other deficiencies.
13. Rat studies have shown that excessive consumption of vegetable oils can cause severe liver damage and fatty liver, as well as increased risk of cancer when the animals consumed Omega-6-rich diet.
5 Oils to Avoid
1. Grape Seed Oil
This oil is often marketed as a healthy cooking oil because of the myths and misleading information about heart health and cholesterol. It contains enormous 70 percent of omega-6 fatty acid, and too high levels of omega-6s polyunsaturated fatty acids is known to cause inflammation– the real cause of heart disease, and a leading factor of autoimmune disorders and cancer.
Grape seed oil is industrially processed with toxic, carcinogenic solvents such as hexane, which are used in the extraction and cleaning process of the oil. Even the final product contains traces of these chemicals. Keep in mind that expeller-pressed processed grape seed oil is contains polyunsaturated fat in amounts toxic to humans.
Being very fragile, grape seed oil and other oils high in PUFAs are prone to oxidation. The process of oil oxidation leads to formation of free radicals which can cause inflammation, thyroid damage, hormonal imbalance, and cancer. Once you cook with cold pressed grape seed oil, it will also oxidize.
2. Rapeseed Oil/Canola Oil
Canola oil is regarded as one of the healthiest oils on the market. But, around 87 percent of this oil is genetically modified. In fact, the term canola is believed to stand for ‘Canadian oil, low acid’. It’s produced from a GE form of rapeseed subsidized by the government of Canada.
The content of rapeseed oil includes high levels of the poisonous erucic acid. Canola oil is in fact modified rapeseed oil, also known as LEAR, Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed, which is produced when the rapeseed is heated and processed with a petroleum solvent to extract the oil. During the first processing there’s wax, which is removed with another process of heat and addition of acid.
The next process is treating the newly produced canola oil with more chemicals to separate its different parts and improve the color. The result is a harsh smelling oil, so in order to be pleasant to taste it has to be chemically deodorized. It can go rancid as it’s processed under high heat, so it must be treated with deodorizers such as hexane and industrial carcinogenic bleaches.
Although the content of canola oil includes omega-3 fatty acids, these oils oxidize through heating. Other omega-3-rich oils like flax seed or fish oil are never used for cooking as they are sensitive to oxidization.
Cold-pressed oils are still fragile, even if not treated with heat in a factory with chemicals, as they oxidize and turn rancid the moment you use them for cooking. Canola oil has been the reason for many heart-related problems. Some animal-farm studies has shown that canola oil is bad for the coronary health, unless mitigated by consumption of good saturated fats.
3. Vegetable Oil
About 99 percent of vegetable oil bottles are just soybean oil. It might appear like it’s made of vegetables, but if you take a closer look at its ingredients you’ll see only one ingredient– soybean oil.
The content of soybean oil is 54 percent of omega-6, levels that can cause inflammation and health problems. Unless soy is fermented, such as natto, tempeh, or fermented soy sauce, it’s best to avoid it or cut it down. Being high in trypsin inhibitors and phytic acid, soy can stop the absorption of many proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The phytoestrogens in its content can disrupt the hormone function in the body, as it mimics the hormone estrogen. This increases the risk of cancer.
Unless labelled non-GMO, or organic, soy is GMO in 94 percent of the cases. But even if non-GMO, it still contains phytoestrogens and phytic acid mentioned above, which makes it harmful for your health.
4. Vegan Butter Substitutes
These are usually combination of soybean and canola oils.
5. Corn Oil
Contrary to what most people believe, corn is not a vegetable, but grain. Corn oil contains too high levels of omega-6s, or 58%, which can cause inflammation. What’s more, being genetically modified in 88% of cases, corn is one of the most GMO crops in America.
You can find healthy fats in better ratios and higher amounts in other types of oils. Avoiding these oils is not the toughest part, but it’s avoiding all the products that contain them. Most processed foods contain at least one of these oils, so you’ll find them labeled as “May contain soybean or canola oil” or “partially hydrogenated soybean/ corn/ etc. oil”.
We know avoiding rancid vegetable oils is not an easy challenge, especially nowadays when the market is full of products containing highly toxic and unnatural fats. The one thing you can do is replacing them with healthier oils such as olive or coconut oil.