Nutrition is key to all healing. Choose well for health and strength.
Over the last century, health professionals have encouraged us to consume oils from vegetables instead of animals, as a general rule for heart health. However some vegetable oils can actually cause big health issues. So which vegetable oils are actually good, and which are bad for your health? In order to answer this question, we need to explore the different plants being used to make oil, their fatty acid content, and how heavily they are processed.
Vegetable Oil Processing
Edible oils are extracted from plants. For fatty plants such as olives, avocados, coconuts or sunflowers, this process is as simple as crushing or pressing the plants and collecting the oil. When oils are made from plants that we don’t think of as oily (like soy or corn) the process becomes more complex and less natural. Oils that are extracted using intense mechanical and chemical processes are “refined” oils. The more processed an oil is, the less natural and therefore the less healthy it is for your body.
Today more than ever, it is tempting to equate anything “plant based” with being healthy or unprocessed. Labels can be deceiving. Technically, French fries and potato chips are “plant based” but few people would consider them a healthy food choice. That is because they are often fried in excessive amounts of refined oils.
We should be especially wary of hydrogenated oils. The process of hydrogenating vegetable oils creates trans fats, which are not natural to the human body and are now associated with chronic disease. Watch out for hydrogenated oils in processed dairy and baked goods.
It isn’t just the processing that determines whether a cooking oil is good or bad for your health. Overconsumption of saturated fats is associated with heart disease. Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat and should be used only sparingly.
Research suggests that consuming too much omega-6 fatty acids could be one of the biggest factors behind the rise of chronic inflammation—and many related ailments such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and Alzheimer’s.
While the average American diet today contains a 1:20 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, nutritionists recommend a ratio of 1:4. This means avoiding vegetable oils with high omega-6 content such as corn, soy, peanut, cottonseed, and sesame oils. Olive Oil is a good alternative for cooking as it has low omega-6 content. Safflower, walnut, and avocado oils are also decent options.
When you heat vegetable oils to a high temperature, past their smoke point, they begin to release free radicals. Be careful to choose oils with a higher smoke point for cooking. Those with a lower smoke point are more appropriate for dips or dressings, or in combination with oils that have a higher heat tolerance. Safflower oil that is high in oleic acid has a high smoke point and is low in saturated fats. But beware of the linoleic version which is best reserved for industrial uses.
Better Vegetable Oil Options
While this information may seem confusing, making better choices doesn’t need to be. For optimum nutrition, consume a variety of vegetable oils sparingly. Choose those with the least amount of processing to avoid unwanted chemicals or compounds. When in doubt, extra virgin olive oil tends to be a good option as it is less processed, primarily contains monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
Your body needs some fats and oils; these are essential to wellness. “Fat is a very underappreciated nutrient that is essential for optimal health. Fat is linked to many essential health functions and benefits. We do not need to eat a ton of fat, but we should make the fat that we eat count,” says James Roche, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Balanced, whole nutrition is key to physical strength, immune function, and energetic wellness. The right foods help up recover, heal, and thrive. Your diet provides the nutrients you need to feel good and fuel your activities. Food is energy. Be sure your plate contains the protein, energy, and nutrients you need to live your best life. For support in eating and living well, contact Rose for a phone consultation today!
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What To Remember:
Not all vegetable oils are healthier than animal fats.
Some oils create disease while others defend against it.
Choose the least processed and most natural oils to foster good health.
Always consume vegetable oils in moderation, even the healthiest options.
Moore, Abby (January, 2021). The 8 Least Healthy Vegetable Oils, According To An MD. MindBodyGreen: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/unhealthy-vegetable-oils
LeWine, Howard (November, 2021). Is extra-virgin olive oil extra healthy? Harvard Health: https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/is-extra-virgin-olive-oil-extra-healthy#:~:text=The%20health%20benefits%20of%20olive,who%20use%20little%20or%20none.
Gunners, Kris and Shoemaker, Savannah (September, 2021). 9 High-Fat Foods That Offer Great Health Benefits. Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-super-healthy-high-fat-foods
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