The term vegetable oil is so misleading that most of us never even think twice what this food actually is. Nuts, grains, and seeds make most of them not vegetables. Most vegetable oils are unstable and easily oxidize and therefore are inflammatory. These oils are polyunsaturated. They oxidize during the chemical process of extraction using the poisonous solvent called hexane. Vegetable oils like Sunflower oil, Corn oil, Soybean oil, Canola oil, Peanut oil, Cottonseed oil are mostly GMO, therefore contain fewer nutrients. The science is still out whether or not there is a connection between GMOs and many health issues. But as long as they have not been proven safe I would be staying as far away as possible from them.
On the other hand, stable fats are saturated with nutrients and are naturally good for us. These oils are anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol protects arteries from clogging. Olive oil, Coconut oil, peanut oil as long as they are cold pressed are generally good for you. Most vegetable oil is loaded with trans fats that are highly toxic and are associated with many diseases. Transfats are not only found in vegetable oils they are also found in packaged foods such as cookies, muffins, most restaurants and takeaways places use these oils for cooking. When these oils are used in packaged foods they are usually stabilized in order to give these foods a long shelf life by a process called hydrogenation. This process which turns already unhealthy oils into harmful synthetic oils transfats has been linked to many health problems.
Omega-6 Fatty Acid
If you are eating from restaurants and packaged foods, there is a high chance of getting huge amounts of an anti-inflammatory acid called linoleic acid. Linoleic acid when ingested is incorporated into your cell membranes and is even stored as body fat. Since these oils are unstable, they oxidize in your body (not to mention when you cook them). Oxidized omega-6 oils do more damage to your DNA, inflame your heart tissues and raise your risk of several types of cancer. But perhaps most of all your brain pays the price – oxidized omega-6 fats don’t support optimal brain metabolism. Anything that increases inflammation in the body isn’t going to help your brain perform better and excess omega-6 fats are no exception.
The Bottom Line
Eat healthy fats from grass-fed animal fat such as butter, lard. Avoid foods that contain these damaging oils such as margarine. Margarine is not good for you as it is full of polyunsaturated fats as discussed earlier. Awareness is a great instrument, to begin with. Chemicals/artificial antioxidants used to keep the food from spoiling too quickly and have been also associated with lots of health problems we talked about in this article.
- Coconut Oil (Cold pressed, and can withstand high temperatures )
- Palm Oil (organic, humanely harvested)
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Great for non-heat dishes like salad dressings, hummus, mayo, lower temperature cooking or when combined with another saturated fat like butter or coconut oil.)
- Avocado Oil (Great for non-heat dishes)
- Other fats (not necessarily for cooking, but essential to good health) include meats, eggs, dairy, and fish (nuts are also good in moderation as they have a high level of polyunsaturated fats)
Oils to be used sparingly
The following oils are good in moderations. Even though, most of them are considered healthy they should be used sparingly because of the levels of Omega-6 fatty acids in them. But, they are considered natural fats and do have health benefits. They are not great for high heat cooking, but acceptable in dressings, mayos, and other non-heat foods.
- Walnut Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
- Macadamia Nut Oil
Oils to avoid completely
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Soybean Oil
- “Vegetable” oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil