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October’s 31 Days of Real Food-Day 24

by Olivia Furlow

Day 24: The Ugly Truth About Vegetable Oils and Why They Should Be Avoided!

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Vegetable Oils…What are they really?

Vegetable oils are oils that have been extracted from various seeds. The most common include rapeseed (canola oil), soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut, etc. Unlike coconut oil or olive oil that can be extracted by pressing, these vegetable oils have to be extracted in very unnatural ways.

Unlike traditional fats (butter, tallow, lard, olive oil, etc.) our industrial vegetable oils are a very new addition to the “food” world. They were practically non-existent until the early 1900s. But with the invention of certain chemical processes and a need for “cheap” fat substitutions, the world of fat hasn’t been the same since.

Consider that at the turn of the 20th century that amount of vegetable oils consumed was practically zero. Today the average consumption is 70 lbs a year. per person!

That number jumped dramatically once the campaign against saturated fats and cholesterol took its public rampage. Cholesterol and Saturated Fat are essential to good health.

Even today, despite the fact that heart disease and cancer continue to rise at an alarming rate while butter consumption is down and vegetable oil consumption is at an all-time high, people are still believing the hype and buying this very non-traditional, non-healthy food-like product.

One of my favorite traditional fats is Butter.

Butter is a simple process that comes when cream separates from milk. This is a natural process that only takes a little patience. Once the cream and milk have separated, all you need to do is skim off the cream and shake it until it becomes butter.

Now let’s compare that to the production of canola oil. Here’s an overly simplified version of the process:

Step 1: Find some “canola seeds.” Oh wait, they don’t exist. Canola oil is actually made from a hybrid version of the rapeseed… most likely genetically modified and heavily treated with pesticides.

Step 2: Heat the rapeseeds at unnaturally high temperatures so that they oxidize and are rancid before you ever buy them.

Step 3: Process with a petroleum solvent to extract the oils.

Step 4: Heat some more and add some acid to remove any nasty wax solids that formed during the first processing.

Step 5: Treat the oil with more chemicals to improve the color.

Step 6: Deodorize the oil to mask the horrific smell from the chemical processing.

Of course, if you want to take your vegetable oils one step further, just hydrogenated it until it becomes a solid. Now you have margarine and all its trans-fatty wonder.

Hopefully at this point you can see how NOT real these oils are. And “not real” is reason enough to avoid them. How can vegetable oils continue to be marketed as “heart healthy”?

Along with the continued myth about saturated fats and cholesterol, these oils are promoted as healthy because they contain monounsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids. And that’s what advertisers focus on to draw you into the fake health claims. But it definitely doesn’t paint the whole picture.

There are additives, pesticides, and chemicals involved in processing. Many vegetable oils contain BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene). These artificial antioxidants keep the food from spoiling too quickly, but they have also been shown to produce potential cancer compounds in the body. And they have been linked to things like immune system issues, infertility, hormonal issues, obesity, mental decline, behavioral problems, and liver and kidney damage. As well as cancer and heart disease.

Oils to avoid completely….

Canola Oil
Corn Oil
Soybean Oil
“Vegetable” oil
Peanut Oil
Sunflower Oil
Safflower Oil
Cottonseed Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Margarine
Shortening
Any fake butter substitutes

Simply skipping these oils in the grocery story isn’t too hard. But keep in mind that most processed foods contain these oils, too. Salad dressing, condiments, crackers, chips… check your ingredients.

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