Obsolete Cooking Oils

The key to understanding healthy cooking oils lies in one word - COOKING.

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.

Here's a little anecdote I found about cattle ranchers. Cattle ranchers discovered the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats in the 1940s, when they fed their livestock inexpensive coconut oil (a saturated fat) in order to fatten them for market. But the cattle didn’t gain weight. Instead, coconut oil made them lean, active, and hungry. Next, ranchers tested a thyroid-suppressing drug. As expected, the livestock gained weight on less food, but because the drug was strongly carcinogenic, it was discontinued. By the late 1940s, ranchers discovered that soybeans and corn caused the same anti-thyroid effect as the thyroid-suppressing drug, allowing animals to gain more weight on less food. Since then, corn and soy have been the staples of feedlot cattle. By 1950, unsaturated fats were clearly shown to suppress the metabolic rate, apparently by creating hypothyroidism. In following years, scientists looked for the mechanism that caused this effect and found that unsaturated fats damage mitochondria through oxidation and enzyme suppression. The more unsaturated a vegetable oil is, the more specifically it suppresses tissue response to thyroid hormones. Unsaturated fats are derived from the seeds of plants, and seeds contain toxins and enzyme suppressors that block protein digestive enzymes in the stomachs of mammals. These chemicals evolved to protect seeds from predators and prevent germination until conditions are optimal for sprouting. It's probably no coincidence that millions of people who ingest these thyroid-damaging toxins and enzyme suppressors have contributed to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, immune system disorders, arthritis, and other chronic diseases. So, it would seem that polyunsaturated fats (Vegetable oil, corn, soy, canola) are the absolute WORST oils to use when cooking. Because these omega-6-rich oils are highly susceptible to heat damage, and conversions to trans fats.

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
  • butter
  • 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.

However damaged omega-6 fats in vegetable oil are disastrous to your health, and are responsible for far more health problems than saturated fats ever were. Now, Trans Fat is the artery clogging, omega-6 polyunsaturated fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. I strongly recommend never using margarine or shortening when cooking. If the label lists a Hydrogenated, or Partially-Hydrogenated, oil as one of the ingredients, RUN. I guarantee you you're already getting far too much of this damaging fat if you consume any kind of restaurant, or packaged, or processed food, whether it be potato chips, cookies, or microwave dinners. Trans fat is the most consumed type of fat in the US, despite the fact that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. Trans fat raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you want. In fact, trans fats, as opposed to saturated fats have been repeatedly linked to heart disease. They can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems. Personally I cook with grape seed, olive, and Virgin Coconut Oil which is the most resistant to heating damage, but also a great source of medium chained triglycerides and lauric acid. With a long shelf life and a melting point of 76 degrees, it was a favorite in the baking industry. A negative campaign against saturated fats, and the tropical oils in particular, starting in the 1980's led to most food manufacturers abandoning coconut oil in recent years in favor of hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils that come from the main cash crops in the US, particularly soy, and they contain trans fatty acids. These polyunsaturated oils were not a big part of the diet of previous generations, so not a suprise the health of Americans changed now that polyunsaturated oils are for the most part all one finds on supermarket shelves across the US. The only way to ensure good quality, non-rancid vegetable oils is to buy cold-pressed oils that have been extracted without the use of high heat and chemical solvents. Make sure you buy from reliable suppliers who take care to prevent the oil from being exposed to heat, light and air during storage and shipping. If you want to get your polyunsaturated fats the natural way simply eat a lot op seeds. Flax, pumpkin, sunflower, etc. So, get up and go throw out those oils I listed above, from your kitchen cupboard... if you value yours and your families heart health, my friends and Good Luck..

  Doc's Fitness Tip's Publishes Twice Weekly.

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