Is This Toxic Ingredient Hiding in Your Fridge?

Cottonseed oil promoted as healthy and trans fat free? I'd rather eat my t-shirt.
Cottonseed oil promoted as healthy and trans fat free? I'd rather eat my t-shirt. | Source

When cooks want to make their recipes healthier, they often use vegetable oils or margarine in place of saturated fats, like butter. But instead of making foods healthier, polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) found in products like canola or safflower oil are actually quite toxic.

The low-fat diet craze that began several decades ago ushered in an epidemic of metabolic disorders and disease.

Consumers traded in butter and other animal cooking fats for vegetable oils. As a result, health problems increased along with food manufacturers' profits (not to mention Big Pharma's):

"In accord with dietary recommendations, Americans have cut back on the amount of animal fat we consume (saturated fat). We have increased the amount of poly-unsaturated fats (PUFAs), however. Most of the PUFAs are oils from plant seeds. Food processors seem to use oils from different plants more-or-less interchangeably, judging from the ingredient lists on a variety of products. They all have fairly similar profiles, however, being relatively rich in ω-6 fatty acids, and relatively poor in ω-3 fatty acids. These graphs would seem to absolve animal fat of blame for the obesity epidemic. Do they implicate plant oils?" -Indiana University Office of Science Research

It's Perfectly Natural

Repeat a Falsehood Often Enough and It Becomes a Fact

"A lie told often enough becomes truth." -Vladimir Lenin, Goebbels, or some other evil historical figure

Even though saturated fats have never been proven to cause weight gain or disease, the demonization of natural animal fats has pervaded the American mindset--so much so that most people can't understand how the fats found in nature can be healthier than man-made, chemically-processed oils squeezed from seeds.

This isn't because people are stupid. It's because you hear messages over and over and over, and soon misinformation becomes truth. It doesn't matter if it's founded in science or simply just made-up jibberish.

Why Vegetable Oils?

"It is estimated that for every two percent increase in consumption of trans fat (still found in many processed and fast foods) the risk of heart disease increases by 23 percent. As surprising as it might be to hear, the fact that animal fats pose this same risk is not supported by science." (emphasis mine)-Drew Ramsey, MD and Tyler Graham, authors of The Happiness Diet

The vegetable oil industry had to come up with a way to make money as a growing number of people began switching to electricity. Vegetable oils were once used to make candles, which was a profitable industry before the days of flipping a switch. In the early 20th century it became clear that candles were becoming all but obsolete

Vegetable oil manufacturers, like Crisco, had to come up with a plan to keep their businesses afloat. They pushed the idea that lard was unhealthy and their hydrogenated cottonseed oil (why did we ever think that eating cotton was a good thing?) was the healthy choice of the future.

They came out with recipes in books and advertisements that demonstrated how this amazing product could create flaky pie crusts and tender pastries. People loved it, tossed their lard, and bought shortening in droves.

Crisco is digestible, so use it in your pie crust!
Crisco is digestible, so use it in your pie crust! | Source

Cheap Candle Making

Mary Enig: PUFA Whistleblower

Since the late 1970s, the US government has recommended that American consumers replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats.

Dr. Mary Enig, graduate student of biochemistry at the University of Maryland, knew the dangers of this drastic dietary advice and spoke out against the promotion of vegetable fats.

Since the dangers of trans fats weren't widely recognized until the 1990s, it's obvious that her warnings to government and health authorities fell on deaf ears.

Look at the Numbers

It's no coincidence that a short time later heart disease rates increased dramatically. In 1920, 70 percent of America used lard as a cooking fat of choice. Today, 70 percent use polyunsaturated oils.

Rates of obesity, heart disease, and cancer rose, and continue to rise steadily with the consumption of polyunsaturated fats and sugar. Yet health authorities continue to tell people to keep doing what they're doing and expect good results.

Wouldn't it make more sense to go back to what we were doing before metabolic syndrome and cancer became serious crises?

Vegetable Oils Contain Trans Fat

"Canola oil degrades so rapidly that a testing company, needing to find the purest canola oil to use as a standard against which other oils could be compared, couldn't locate any canola oil even from pharmaceutical-grade manufacturers with a trans fat content lower than 1.2 percent" -Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

The dangers of trans fats in hydrogenated oils are now well known. What most people don't know is that all vegetable oils contain trans fat, whether it's indicated on the label or not. These trans fats are toxic and fry your arteries like crispy onion rings.

When vegetable oils are heated--first during processing and then during cooking--their molecular structure becomes mutated. These mutated molecules are incredibly damaging and wreak havoc when they're ingested.

High Heat Makes Safe PUFAs Toxic

Seeds are pressed and heated to high temperatures to manufacture vegetable oils. All seeds contain polyunsaturated fats, which are nature's way of protecting the seed during the cold weather months. But these fats are delicate and easily oxidized: oxygen squirms its way into the molecules, causing damage that is super destructive.

Oxidized fats are a bad, bad thing. Remember the mutated molecules we were just talking about? They create a free-radical cascade that damages healthy cells throughout your body, leading to inflammation and disease.

On the other hand, saturated fats resist oxidation. There's no room for oxygen to squeeze its way through to damage the fat molecule. In fact, fat-soluble vitamin E, which is abundant in grass-fed beef, helps preserve the fat and protect it from oxidation.

EFA Balance is Key

"Anthropological and epidemiological studies and studies at the molecular level indicate that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of ~1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1 to 16.7/1." -Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy

Research shows that a diet that isn't balanced in omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can be dangerous to your health.

Human beings have always eaten a diet that is balanced in omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs. That is, until recently: today, the average American consumes 15 to 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3.

Vegetable oils are unnaturally high in inflammatory omega-6. Virtually all processed foods contain these toxic oils, pushing your EFA intake out of balance. When you eat these foods, they cause inflammation throughout your body. This inflammation can increase risks of heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Omega-6 and omega-3 compete for the same enzyme in order to be metabolized. If your diet is high in omega-6, omega-3 will always be the loser, creating an even greater imbalance.

Switching to a diet with a low ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 has been shown to slow the growth of cancer cells, reduce inflammation in arthritis sufferers, and decrease mortality by 70 percent in those who have cardiovascular disease.

Of course, omega-6s are essential fatty acids. You need to get them from your food. The problem begins when you eat a diet heavy in these polyunsaturated fats, and mostly from unnatural sources.

Food Manufacturers Love Vegetable Oils

Even if you don't cook with them, almost all processed foods contain vegetable oils. Added to everything from dehydrated fruits and roasted nuts to breads, snack foods, and frozen dinners . . . it doesn't matter if you're a staunch vegan or fast food junkie. These cheap fats are easy to use in the manufacturing of food products.

So how do you avoid a diet high in omega-6? Stick with real food. Real food is anything that has been used traditionally. In other words, did your great-great-great grandmother eat it? You can't say that she ate that loaf of bread found in today's supermarket because those 20-letter-word ingredients weren't even used in her day (and the wheat used today is drastically different from the strains used a century ago).

Coconut oil is an excellent substitute for vegetable oil in any recipe. You can cook or bake with it. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat and can be used in a frying pan without becoming oxidized. It has amazing health properties, and has even shown that it may have the power to reverse Alzheimer's disease.

He Said She Said: Who's Right?

Conflicting messages that tell you what is healthy and what isn't will continue as long as lying is profitable. The cheap fats known as vegetable oils are a prime example. When faced with health issues about what is good and what is bad, always side with nature. She won't steer you wrong.

© Liz Davis 2012 Vegetable Oils

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Have you made the switch to a real food diet? 6 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Liz, you speak the truth, and you write extremely well. Great information here; some of it I knew, but most was news to me. Great job, girl with no name, and have a great weekend. :)


Radcliff profile image

Radcliff 4 years ago from Hudson, FL Author

Awww, Billy! That means a lot coming from you. Thanks so much! You have a good one, too!


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago

Well done... I had no idea vegetable oils were that bad. More people need to realize that this fear of animal fats is exactly what has caused all the problems with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. In fact I was watching a great science documentary last week on human evolution, and it explained how it was our species eating animal fat and marrow that caused a major leap in evolution for us. This is great info.


Radcliff profile image

Radcliff 3 years ago from Hudson, FL Author

Thank you, WiccanSage! Yes, anthropologists say that our brains doubled in size after we began eating animal proteins. This is why raising children on vegan and vegetarian diets is so dangerous: there are several studies that have researched the differences between children who eat vegetarian diets and those who include animal proteins and the results are scary.


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago

Wow, it is amazing. With so many conflicting opinions coming from all over it's no wonder people don't know what to believe about what to eat.


Radcliff profile image

Radcliff 3 years ago from Hudson, FL Author

So true. That's the sad part.

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