While vegetable oils are often considered healthy because they contain unsaturated fats, not all of them are as good as they seem to be.
The food industry will tell you that vegetable oil is healthy, natural, and far better than alternatives like butter and lard, but it’s not true. Learn the truth about vegetable oil and how it can damage your health so you can make the right decision when purchasing food products in the future.
What Are The Health Risks Associated With Vegetable Oils?
While vegetable oils are considered a healthy alternative to animal fats such as butter, margarine, and lard, they have their health risks which make them one of the most harmful foods that you can consume. These include heart disease, obesity, and other negative effects on your health.
Additionally, any man-made fats are unable to naturally metabolize due to their different chemical structure. This leads to weight gain and high cholesterol levels.
The processing that vegetable oils go through also results in them having a damaging effect on your digestive system. The modified fats can create free radicals in your gut which, in turn, can lead to leaky gut syndrome, food allergies, and even gluten intolerance. This is because it alters your immune response and compromises how your body absorbs vitamins and minerals.
The poor absorption of nutrients is also associated with obesity, as your body will struggle to convert fat into usable energy. This leads to feelings of lethargy and fatigue as you’re unable to obtain enough energy from your diet. Studies have also found that vegetable oils can lead to insulin resistance, which is linked to diabetes. So consuming them in excess can put you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Even worse, consuming vegetable oils can increase your risk of depression, inflammation, and nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Not only can these potential health problems be a serious concern for those who have already been diagnosed with health conditions but they are also associated with poor mental health. For example, people who consume vegetable oils regularly tend to have lower levels of dopamine, which is linked to depression. This is why vegetable oils should never be included in your diet, whether it’s in cooking or through supplements, as they pose more risks than benefits.
One of these deodorizing and modification processes involve hydrogenation, which turns liquid oils into solid fats like margarine and vegetable shortening. This kind of processed oil is frequently high in trans fats, which have been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
If you need to use oils, choose cold-pressed, unrefined varieties and limit your intake to small amounts. The healthiest cooking fats are extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. If you can’t avoid eating fried foods, they should only be cooked in olive or coconut oil.
You should avoid trans fats altogether if possible. Even naturally occurring trans fats in meat and dairy products can be harmful. Be aware that some low-fat or non-fat dairy products are still high in sugar or other ingredients.
Still, a lot of processed foods contain vegetable oils, so be sure to read nutrition labels carefully before you buy. If you don’t recognize a specific ingredient on the label, avoid it. It’s better to err on the side of caution and trust your instincts about what’s best for your body.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are naturally occurring or synthetic compounds that interfere with our body’s hormonal systems and trigger unwanted changes. Because these disruptive chemicals mimic hormones, they trick your body into releasing its hormones at abnormal levels, which can cause an imbalance in other important hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol. This interruption of normal hormonal function can lead to serious consequences like infertility, diabetes, heart disease, cognitive impairment, and cancer.
The good news is that researchers are beginning to understand how endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) work, and in response can educate people on how to better avoid them.
This can be done by taking precautions when choosing your preferred oil and avoiding vegetable oil.
The largest study to date, published in July 2013 in JAMA Neurology, followed 2,000 older adults for up to 10 years and found that people who regularly ate vegetable oils (canola, corn, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils) were more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment. This condition is an intermediate stage between normal aging and dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which is a progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It is not a normal part of aging and affects people differently and at different rates.
While it may not be immediately obvious to many consumers, vegetable oils are a contributing factor to many health conditions. The high temperatures at which they’re processed hurt them and reduce their nutritional value. Some studies suggest that these oils can cause birth defects! Switching to unrefined coconut oil is one way you can keep your family safe from potentially dangerous additives while maintaining a tasty and nutritious cooking medium.
In place of vegetable oil, you can choose coconut oil. This has a positive effect on your heart health and is generally easier to digest than some other vegetable oils. It’s even used in some popular weight loss programs due to its ability to reduce fat absorption in your body and increase your metabolism!
Healthier Alternative To Vegetable Oil
If you’re looking to cook healthier meals at home, using vegetable oil in your recipes probably isn’t the best option. Instead of frying with vegetable oil, try these alternatives instead! I promise they will change the way you look at healthy cooking!
Coconut oil is one of my favorites because it’s loaded with lauric acid, which may help increase metabolism and burn fat. When buying coconut oil, make sure it’s labeled extra virgin. This means that the oil is unrefined and cold-pressed, which preserves all its antioxidants and nutrients.
You can also use cooking oils made from butter or coconut. Be careful when buying these types of oils, as they’re not always heart-healthy alternatives.
Butter and coconut are high in saturated fat, which raises levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood—also known as bad cholesterol. What’s more, high levels of LDL cholesterol put you at risk for several diseases, including cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Another healthy alternative is olive oil. Studies have found that olive oil may improve levels of HDL cholesterol, which helps protect against heart disease. But keep in mind that when you’re eating olive oil, it still counts as fat and needs to be eaten in moderation. You should use 1 tablespoon or less per day when cooking at home. Also, be sure your bottle is labeled extra virgin—many cheaper brands are refined and won’t offer these health benefits.
Canola oil is also a good option. Studies have found that it may be more heart-healthy than olive oil, at least when eaten in place of saturated fats. However, canola is still fat and should be used in moderation. When baking at home, use 1 tablespoon or less per day—that amount has no adverse health effects on your cholesterol levels or your risk for heart disease.
Another common cooking oil is peanut oil. This popular Asian cooking ingredient contains mostly monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk for heart disease. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential fats your body needs but can’t produce on its own.
Peanut oil may be especially heart-healthy when compared to olive or canola oils, but studies haven’t found significant differences between these options and saturated fats like butter or coconut oil.
Grape Seed Oil
Another substitute you can try is grape seed oil. This slightly nutty-tasting and smelling liquid is high in vitamins E and K, as well as antioxidants. It’s ideal for cooking or baking because it has a high smoke point, which makes it perfect for sautéing. Other good alternatives include sunflower seed oil, canola oil, and sesame seed oil.
Whether you’re trying to reduce your cooking oils intake or preparing for a major life change, there are a variety of ways you can replace vegetable oils. Coconut oil, for example, makes an excellent substitute for vegetable oil. In addition, olive oil is another healthy alternative and is great when it comes to making salad dressings.