Sugar has rightfully gotten lots of attention for its negative effect on health problems, obesity, and low energy levels.
Yet it has a twin health disruptor that has largely flown under the radar.
In her book "Deep Nutrition", Dr. Cate Shanahan outlines in great detail how the vegetable oils that are found literally everywhere in our food options today are, along with sugars, creating the massive spike in health issues we've seen in our society over the last 40+ years.
WHAT MAKES VEGETABLE OILS BAD FOR YOU?
In short, it's because of PUFAs.
PUFAs are polyunsaturated fatty acids, something that is not found in natural food sources unless they are refined during processing.
That refining process chemically alters what was once a healthy food source, making it toxic when exposed to heat.
You may have observed that mayonnaise, something loaded with vegetable oils, goes bad when microwaved. This is a more dramatic example of the problem that is occurring at the cellular level when we consume these.
And make no mistake, you are almost certainly consuming them on a regular basis.
PUFA's get stored in our fat cells. When their concentration level rises, so do our health issues.
According to Dr Cate, in the early 1900's our PUFA fat cell storage was about 2-4%. Today it is usually between 10-30%.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DOES THIS CAUSE?
Vegetable oils are promoted as heart healthy items because they lower cholesterol levels. Yet study after study shows that despite this, heart disease and deaths due to heart problems do not decrease with higher vegetable oil intake.
This lies at the heart of the problem. Vegetable oils are promoted as being better for you than saturated fats, when in fact current research is showing the exact opposite.
Increased mental illness, from depression to dementia, are linked to higher vegetable oil intake. So are all of the following:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Digestive disorders like IBS
- Autoimmune disease
That last bullet point, taken in the context of our current environment, makes this issue more critical for us to better understand.
WHICH OILS ARE THE PROBLEM?
The Big 6 are:
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Soy oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
Restaurants tend to use a lot of grapeseed oil, which is also problematic. Others are rice bran, refined palm, and hydrogenated oil.
WHAT FOODS ARE VEGETABLE OILS COMMONLY FOUND IN?
Vegetable oils are almost always in:
- Margarine and other fake butter spreads
- Store bought pastries
- Most chips & crackers
- Most salad dressings
- Most mayonnaise
- Most cereals & granola
- Most protein bars
- Most fried foods
- Restaurant dishes (and homemade ones) that don't use olive oil, peanut oil or butter as their cooking oil.
- Anything else that has one or more items its ingredients list with the prefix "Polyunsaturated", "Trans", or "Hydrogenated"
If these items constitute 90% of your diet, and you have experienced health issues as you've gotten older (from the toxins that have accumulated in your cells) you should strongly consider looking to make changes to your daily nutrition.
WHAT CAN I REPLACE THEM WITH?
Perhaps you're thinking, "That's almost everything I eat. What the heck am I supposed to do now?"
Great question. Here's a few suggestions.
- Make your own salad dressing using olive oil. There's plenty of quick and easy recipes online you can make in about 1 minute. Done properly, homemade salad dressings taste better than store bought.
- Switch to olive oil or butter when cooking. Don't worry about the saturated fat content in butter, it was used for centuries as a cooking oil when heart disease was much lower.
- Replace processed foods with whole foods. You're not learning anything new here. Remember that whole foods aren't just vegetables. They also include meats and dairy products, too.
- Stop worrying about fat intake. The Atkins, South Beach, Keto and other similar diets may not have been perfect, but they did have this one area on the mark. Food needs to taste good for us to consume regularly, and fattier meals are usually quite tasty when prepared well. Drop your guilt and use them to replace the chemically reincarnated processed items in your diet.
If you find yourself wanting to learn more about vegetable oils and their impact on your health, I strongly recommend reading Dr Cate Shanahan's blog or books.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding what sugar and vegetable oils are doing to undermine our health today.