Fats are the innocent bystanders in a health war founded on bad science and economic greed. Perhaps the worst misinformation given to the American public is regarding fats. I’ve written about coconut oil, tallow, butter and now I want to discuss vegetable oils and the fact that they are much worse for our health than any other food additive.
First of all, the USDA prescribed guidelines for low fat consumption is unfounded and a recipe for disaster and disease. We are living that now. As saturated fat consumption has decreased, heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes has increased in alarming rates. Our children are getting diseases of adulthood, not to mention the epidemic numbers of children on the autistic spectrum.
Before 1920, heart disease in this country was rare. However, by the 1950’s heart disease was the leading cause of death in America. It still is today. If heart disease is, in fact, related to consumption of fats, we would expect it to be lower, as for the last 30 years we have decreased consumption of saturated fats.
However, during this same period, we have greatly increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils, in the form of liquid oils and margarine.
Today, each American consumes approximately 70 lbs. of polyunsaturated vegetable oils a year. We’ve switched out stable and safe saturated fats for unstable, oxidized vegetable oils that are now in every processed and packaged food in the marketplace.
Polyunsaturated Fatty acids are Mostly Omega 6 Fats Found in Commercial Vegetable Oils
Omega 6 fats tend to be out of balance with the omega 3 fats found in eggs, fish and meat, especially when the animals are fed grains. In our culture today, most people get much too much omega 6 as compared to omega 3.
This imbalance disrupts prostaglandin production and this in turn drives inflammation, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, irritation of the GI tract, depressed immune function, and cancer.
Omega 3 Fats From Our Diet is Lacking
In order to increase shelf life, food manufacturers actually remove omega 3 from grains, which then make the grains high in omega 6. These same grains are fed to the cows that give us milk and meat. Studies show that the meat from grain fed cows can have ratios of omega 6 to omega 3 as high as 20:1, 30:1 or even 50:1 in favor of omega 6!
This is a very serious health risk and there are many studies that show this. For example, a Korean study found that the ratios of serum omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids were highly indicative of prostate cancer risk. The researchers concluded that omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids have a tumor-promoting effect while omega-3 acids have a protective effect.
Compare that to the meat from grassfed cows which show ratios of 2:1, a much healthier ratio.
Non-Esterified Fatty Acids from Omega 6 Fatty Acids
There is another problem associated with overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids such as found in vegetable oils — the accumulation of NEFAs (non-esterified fatty acids) in the blood. Studies have found that NEFAs are implicated not just as a primary risk factor in sudden heart attacks, but they are implicated in the onset of cancer as well.
Vegetable Oils are Highly Refined
These highly refined (think of an industrial oil refinery) oils are cheap to manufacture, but they are foreign to our physiology. In these refineries, oil is obtained by crushing the seeds and heating them to 230 degrees F. The seeds are then squeezed at pressures of 10 to 20 tons per inch. This generates more heat.
During the process the oil is exposed to light and oxygen which is damaging to it’s fragile structure, creating free radicals. And finally, in order to extract the last 10% of the oil from the seeds, a solvent is used — usually hexane, and up to 100 parts per million of this toxic chemical is allowed to remain in the oil.
In addition, all this heating and processing destroys the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E which are also natural preservatives. Then, artificial preservatives like cancer causing BHT and BHA are added.
Knowing this, will you ever look at commercial oils and salad dressing the same?
The Cell Membrane
Every cell in our bodies has a membrane that protects it by keeping the toxic elements out and the nutrients in. It is a double layer called a phospholipid membrane. You get the “lipid” part — it is made of fat.
More than half of the cell membrane is composed of saturated fat. What happens when there is not enough saturated fat around? The body uses whatever fat is available. If this is trans fat because the person has been eating margarine, or rancid vegetable oils because the person has been eating commercial salad dressings, that is what will be incorporated into the cell membrane.
However, these unnatural fats have a different structure than the saturated fats and this creates breaks in the links of the phospholipid membrane. If the membrane is not sound, because of these unnatural fats, the potential for toxins to get into the cell increases and the potential for nutrients to flow out increases.
This makes the membrane leaky and no longer protective. This is a set up for all kinds of diseases including, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and other diseases of inflammation and gut dysbiosis.
The GMO Issue
Commercially bottled salad dressings are primarily made with soybean oil, safflower oil and/or canola oil. These oils are from genetically modified sources unless they are organic. In order to be healthy you need to avoid genetically modified foods, so just on that issue alone, salad dressings are out.
I spent 15 minutes looking through all the salad dressings for sale at Whole Foods and my local health food stores and did not find one that I would trust. Not one! Even the organic ones were made with soybean and/or canola oil which are high in omega 6’s. Of course being organic removes that GMO issue, but the type of fat is critically important.
Virtually every single bottled vegetable oil and processed food you buy in the supermarket (excluding real extra virgin olive oil) should be considered a health threat, because they are all made with highly refined polyunsaturated fatty acids.
How Can Salad Cause a Heart Attack?
We know that inflammation is behind atherosclerosis, the main cause of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Clinical trials have shown that vegetable oils likely promote cancer and perhaps even heart disease.
This study published in the Lancet in 2004 has shown that approximately 90% of heart disease cases are preventable by simple changes to diet and lifestyle. One small change with a major impact is to change your salad dressing.
In one of her talks, Sally Fallon Morell asks how salad could cause heart attacks. This is how! The poor oils that you pour onto the salad. Using a low fat dressing doesn’t solve any problem either, as I’ve said many times — you need fat to absorb the minerals in the wonderful vegetables — you need a fatty salad dressing on your salad.
I eat two salads a day — that is a lot of oil in the salad dressing. I knew I had to make my own dressing and get those rancid oils out of my diet! I’ve mentioned that I did not like olive oil, but that was before I found my favorite brand from growers that I trust.
Olive oil has been used traditionally for centuries and is the healthiest oil to use on a daily basis. (Not for cooking).
Here’s a recipe for a favorite dressing in my house made with this wonderful extra virgin olive oil.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
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