5 Min Read
How Cooking with Vegetable Oils Can be Hazardous to Your Health
We lubricate our pans with it, pour it into recipes, and dress our salads with it, but are vegetable oils healthy or harmful? Should we even be eating this highly-processed food product at all?
Some of you may be thinking, "It's made from vegetables, and vegetables are good for us. How is this a bad thing?" What if we told you that processed oils might be the worst of the worst when it comes to our diets?
Before we get into the finer points of vegetable oils, let's remind ourselves of a helpful mantra while walking down the aisles of the local grocery store.
If the label says it's good for you, it's probably not!
What is vegetable oil?
First of all, vegetable oil doesn't contain any vegetables, and it's not squeezed from vegetables like juice. Vegetable oil is the fat extracted from the seeds of plants, which is why vegetable oil is sometimes referred to as seed oil.
More importantly, the golden oil found in plastic bottles on the grocery store shelves are blends of cheaply produced oils. Of the variety of oils widely available, most are 80% to 90% soybean oil. That's right! Even the healthier choice of olive or avocado oil is a blend of several oils. Did you really think that half-gallon jug of extra virgin olive oil for $5.99 was better? Look at the ingredients label.
Let's remove any confusion about different types of oil. All of these are forms of vegetable oil:
- Rice bran
How many of these oils have you consumed in the last few days? It's probably more than you realize. Most restaurants use the cheapest oil available, and every condiment contains vegetable oil. Thanks to technology in the extraction process, cooking oil is one of the most popular ingredients on the planet.
How it's made
We could go into a long-winded explanation of the differences between mechanical and chemical extraction, solvents, hydrogenation, and deodorization, but a simple YouTube video is all we need.
Any video showing how the sausage gets made can be unsettling, but did that look like food to you? A few takeaways that you may or may not have noticed in the video:
- It started by explaining how "healthy" canola oil compares to other vegetable oils. Please don't confuse a comparison with a statement of health.
- They glossed over some of the more sinister aspects of the production process like the 70-minute wash in a solvent, 20-minute wash in sodium hydroxide, bleaching to lighten the color, and steam cleaning to remove the odor.
Why you should avoid these oils
Many of these oils are partially hydrogenated, which means they're chemically altered with hydrogen atoms. Food manufacturers use the hydrogenation process to increase shelf life and melting point and change the texture of the oil.
The problem is that partial hydrogenation produces trans fats, and the human body is not equipped to manage an abundance of trans fats. Trans fats lead to an increased risk of heart disease and inflammatory markers.
Recent studies also link trans fats and type 2 diabetes by worsening insulin sensitivity in already predisposed individuals. Trans fats contribute to weight gain and impaired glucose disposal in animal studies.
Another disadvantage of vegetable oils is the high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are an essential part of a healthy diet, but their prevalence in the Western diet creates an imbalance of roughly 15-1 versus omega-3s. The ideal ratio of these omegas should be 1 -1.
Finally, certain vegetable oils are easily oxidized when exposed to heat. The chemical compounds in oil deteriorate, forming free radicals that cause inflammation and oxidative stress in our cells.
Hiding in plain sight
We cannot stress enough the importance of reading the ingredients labels on all your food. Once you start looking, you'll be amazed at all the products containing vegetable oil.
Once such place manufacturers like to hide oil is as an emulsifier known as bromated vegetable oil. Bromated vegetable oil is a popular ingredient in soft drinks. Bet you didn't think you were drinking vegetable oil. The reported side effects of bromated oils include headache, fatigue, and memory loss.
In your body
Have you ever spilled vegetable oil on the kitchen floor or tried pouring it down the sink? If so, you're well aware of how tough it is to clean up. Vegetable oil will clog more than your sink.
Imagine what that greasy substance is doing to your arteries and digestive system. Does that seem healthy to you?
Given the information presented above, it's still possible to find healthier options or alternatives in your food.
Extra-virgin olive oil
As you sometimes see it, EVOO is vegetable oil, but quality olive oil has a greater concentration of monounsaturated fats like oleic acid. Authentic 100% olive oil is expensive and spoils quickly. Use it over salads but be careful cooking with EVOO. It has a low smoke point and oxidizes easily.
Avocado is not a seed oil but made from the edible flesh of the fruit. With a smoke point of 520-degrees Fahrenheit, avocado oil is best for high-heat cooking. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
This oil is another healthier version because it's rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are fatty acids shown to help increase metabolism and boost brain function.
As great substitutes for cooking with oil, grass-fed butter and ghee are higher in valuable omega-3 fatty acids. Ghee, which is clarified butter, also has a high smoke point and a rich flavor that vegetables lack. A single tablespoon of butter contains fewer calories than the same size serving of vegetable oil.
Check your oil
Most men pay more attention to the oil they use in their cars than the stuff they put in their bodies. Entirely eliminating harmful oils from your diet is nearly impossible, but simply paying attention to ingredients labels can have an enormous impact on your health.
Eat better to live better.
Anther. Male wellness where it counts.