It's a different matter if you use oils in raw salads, or swallow them by the spoonful or in pill form as health supplements. When you use oil for cooking, the most important thing to consider is what happens to the oil when it gets heated?
Briefly, these are the answers:
- Oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats - eg corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower (some types) oils - turn rancid easily when heated (and also when exposed to air and light). Turning rancid means the oil becomes very harmful to health.
- Oils that are high in monounsaturated fats - eg olive, sesame, peanut, rice bran and some types of sunflower oil - are more stable and can tolerate quite high heat during cooking. Among oils in this group, olive oil is not as stable as the rest and should not be used for high heat cooking.
- Oils that are high in saturated fats - coconut and palm oil, as well as various types of animal fat - are very stable and most suitable for high heat cooking, such as deep frying. They also keep well and do not spoil easily with long storage.
Sadly, this issue of oils turning rancid is not considered by most nutritionists and doctors when they recommend polyunsaturated oils as healthy cooking oils. They simply base their recommendations on the mistaken belief that polyunsaturated oils prevent heart disease while saturated fats cause heart disease, but even if we accept that polyunsaturated fats could be beneficial to health, whatever benefits they bring are negated once the oil is heated and turns rancid. This is the important troubling part, most polyunsaturated oils have already turned rancid during the manufacturing process, because of the high heat that is used to extract the oils, from the seeds. So even if you don't use the oil for cooking, what you get from the bottle is already rancid, damaged, harmful oil. What we've all been lead to believe from the vegetable oil industry is, Polyunsaturated vegetable oils are the safest fats for cooking, especially deep-fat frying, and they're the key ingredients in healthful salad dressings. Canola oil, flax seed oil, soy oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and other polyunsaturated vegetable oils are today's true health foods. Right? "Wrong on all counts," says Ray Peat, Ph.D., a physiologist who has studied hormones and dietary fats since 1968. According to Peat, every one of the above statements is incorrect. In fact, he says, the polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA's in vegetable seed oils are the bane of human health, they actually cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, aging, thrombosis, arthritis, and immunodeficiencies. Their only appropriate use, he says, "is as ingredients in paints and varnishes."
So, what's wrong with vegetable oils, well the main problem is that polyunsaturated oils contain long-chain fatty acids, which are extremely fragile and unstable. "The unsaturated oils in some cooked foods become rancid in just a few hours even when refrigerated,", and that's responsible for the stale taste of leftover foods, says Dr.Peat. "As soon as a polyunsaturated vegetable oil enters the body, it is exposed to temperatures high enough to cause its toxic decomposition, especially when combined with a continuous supply of oxygen and catalysts such as iron, even if you stop eating them, polyunsaturated fatty acids remain stored in tissue, only to be released during times of stress or fasting, including the middle of the night, when you're is asleep." Although PUFAs damage every part of the body, the endocrine system, especially the thyroid, is particularly vulnerable. A slow metabolism, low energy, and sluggish thyroid often accompany the consumption of vegetable oils.
Which of the following are healthy cooking oils?
- olive oil
- canola oil
- corn oil
- soybean oil
- safflower oil
- sunflower oil
- sesame oil
- peanut oil
- rice bran oil
- coconut oil
- palm oil
- ghee / clarified butter
- pork lard
If you pick olive oil, you are only partially right. It depends on the type of olive oil and it depends also on what type of cooking you do. Good quality extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthy cooking oils for salads as well as low to moderate heat cooking, like sauteeing. It is not for high-heat deep frying.
If you pick canola oil, you are dead wrong. It is an artificially created oil from the seed of a genetically modified plant. Got That! It is unnatural and has been found to cause several health problems. It is far from being one of the healthy cooking oils. You are also off the mark if you pick corn oil(GMO), soybean oil(GMO), safflower oil and other polyunsaturated fats. Yes, these are the oils widely recommended by nutritionists, dieticians, doctors and other health experts, sorry to say, if they do, they too, are off the mark. They don't understand what are healthy cooking oils.
Sunflower oil is a special case, because the composition of sunflower oil varies greatly. Sesame, peanut and rice bran oils are about in the same class as olive oil. They are healthy oils with the added advantage that they can tolerate cooking. If you really want to do some serious high heat cooking, like deep frying, your best bets are actually the saturated fats, including coconut and palm oils, butter, and lard. Aren't these harmful to health? That's what most health experts say. Yet the people of Okinawa, who are known for their longevity and good health, cook predominantly with pork lard. One of their favourite daily dishes is stewed pork leg, laden with lard! In fact cultures all over the world enjoy high saturated fat diets with no related health problems.
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