Industrial vegetable oils are difficult to process and not "heart healthy".

Lunch Hour Lesson #34

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Inflammation is a big buzz word these days. It has been shown to be the primary driver of the majority of chronic illness. A stressful lifestyle causes inflammation in the body, but so do certain foods.

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Some foods irritate the digestive tract, joints, and arteries. Foods that you would have an allergy or sensitivity to are inflammatory to you. Many people notice that when they stop eating gluten, for example, their joints aren’t as stiff and sore.

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Industrial vegetable oils don’t cause inflammation due to a person’s allergies or sensitivities, but rather, they are processed in a way that causes them to go rancid, and consuming rancid oils is irritating to the body, causing inflammation.

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How to tell:

Have you ever smelled oil that has gone rancid? It is a distinctive smell that is hard to describe, but some say it smells like waxy crayons or wet cardboard.

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You may have noticed that old peanut butter or nuts that haven’t been kept in cool conditions can smell or taste rancid. When this happens, we know that the oil has been exposed to its three enemies, oxygen, heat, and light for too long and has “goes bad”.

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Therefore, contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, research now shows that industrial vegetable oils such as soybean oil, canola oil, and corn oil are not heart healthy, because they are very susceptible to going rancid in the first place – they are polyunsaturated oils – and their processing itself makes them rancid.

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What happens:

Here’s how those oils go rancid even before they get to the supermarket shelf, but why you won’t actually smell it. The primary reason is that it is a complicated and labor intensive process to extract oil from soybeans, corn, and rapeseed (canola).

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The process requires sophisticated machinery to, for example, crack the soybeans, heat them to up to 190 degrees, then use a solvent called hexane to extract the oil from the seed. Hexane is a significant constituent of gasoline.

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I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like something I would want to eat. To make matters worse, the oil is then put in clear plastic bottles and stored on grocery store shelves under fluorescent lighting. This further exposes it to light and heat.

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In contrast, polyunsaturated oils like these should always be processed with the lowest temperature possible, and stored in dark glass jars in the refrigerator. You do see this with something like flax seed oil, which is usually treated appropriately.

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Watch out for:

Unfortunately for us, most restaurants cook foods in canola or soybean oil, and all fried food in restaurants is fried in these oils which are already rancid by the time they’re used in the kitchen. This is unless they explicitly say their food is fried in coconut oil or lard, which is very unusual these days.

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This is one of the reasons that eating out in restaurants, even if you’re choosing healthy options, may not be so healthy if you’re not sure what oils they use to cook the food. Over time, inflammatory conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and even diabetes can be made worse by consuming these oils on a regular basis.

Bottom line

Don’t purchase generic “vegetable oil” to cook with. This is often made with a blend of soybean oil, corn oil, and/or canola oil, so read the label. Things like store bought potato salad are almost always made with soybean oil mayonnaise. Choose alternatives such as olive oil and avocado oil for salad dressings and mayo, and coconut oil, butter, or lard for cooking.

Weekend Tip

Smell the oils, nuts, and peanut butter in your fridge and pantry. What does it smell like? Does it smell fresh? If anything smells “off” to you, throw it out.

Lunch Hour Lesson #34: Inflammatory Vegetable Oils

Posted by Allison Mädl Nutritional Therapy and Education on Wednesday, July 3, 2019