Dietary Toxins: Poor-Quality Oils
When you hear the words “vegetable oil,” you might think the stuff’s gotta be healthy. I mean for gosh sake, it’s made from vegetables, right? The stuff is crud. Oh, and that's not all. That beloved canola oil? Bad. Sweet- sounding sunflower and safflower oils? Bad. The so-called “healthy” corn, cottonseed, palm kernel, peanut and soybean oils and margarine? All bad.
So, what do I mean by bad?
Damaged Stuff: I would wager a bet that when you put the oil of your liking in your cart, it’s probably already posion. The light-colored bottles don’t help. Light causes the oil to oxidize (become damaged). Think bananas for a minute. A banana starts to oxidize, gets brown and turns “bad.” Oil does that. It’s exposed to heat and light sitting on the grocer’s shelf, and these act like Kryptonite to Superman — rendering us powerless.
Processed Stuff: What’s also surprising is these oils are actually highly processed because they are not naturally occurring. Theses oils must jump through a whole lot of hoops before they are bottled and available for you to throw in your cart.
Rancid Stuff: What I always say is rancid fat means a rancid body. This means inflammation, which if you are feeling any aches pains, have a health condition weighing on you or are just plain pooped out and feel your life is a struggle, you are probably experiencing inflammatory problems. I highly suggest getting the simple blood test C Reactive Protein. And read this post.
Wonky Stuff: This piggybacks off of the “rancidity.” The biggest reason that these oils create inflammation and other health issues is because the Omega 6 (pro-inflammatory oil) is much higher than Omega 3 oils (anti-inflammatory oil). In fact, the numbers are completely skewed (wonky!).
My biggest message is to pay attention to these ratios. It cannot be overstated enough. All of these processed, highly inflammatory oils are causing us to suffer a great deal. They are aging us. They are killing us.
Backstory: 4 million years of evolution, diets were abundant in seafood and other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, but low in omega-6 seed oils. In fact, our hunter-gather ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1.
This is the ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. The ratios today in our modern diets range from 15:1 and 22:1. This means we are consuming 15 to 20 times too much of inflammatory oils! It’s difficult to escape these oils. Soybean oil is in about everything packaged, and most prepared foods carry one of these inflammatory seed oils. Corn oil is another popular oil, whose ratios of Omega 6 to Omega 3 are 57:1!
How Did This Happen?
Change. With the onset of the industrial revolution about 140 years ago, came the advent of modern-day vegetable oils and an increase in the use of cereal grains (also high in Omega 6) to feed livestock. This has created a pandemic of human suffering.
Doc, just tell me. What do we do? Don’t let your fats and oils become another Dietary Food Toxin. Remember the definition of a food toxin: “Anything your body cannot fully utilize, metabolize, digest or eliminate, causing waste, debris or harm to your gut.” Yep. Poor-quality oils definitely fall into the food-toxin criterion.
- Avocados: These fruits provide monounsaturated fats, which are incredibly healthy. Just add some in a salad, mash and use as a dip for veggies, or just eat with a spoon.
- Olives: Olives also offer monounsaturated fats and are a great snack or salad addition.
- Butter and ghee: Butter from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows and organic, grass-fed ghee (also called clarified butter) are fantastic cooking oils because they’re stable at a very high heat. (You can find a recipe for making ghee in Paleo Cookbook for Dummies).
(Keep in mind: Any butter, even grass-fed, contains milk proteins. If you’re on my 30 Day Reset, super-sensitive to milk proteins or have a condition you’re trying to heal, you may want to stick to ghee, in which the milk proteins are boiled off).
- Coconut fats: Incorporate coconut through coconut butter, flakes, and milk and fresh coconut.
- Nuts and nut butters: I recommend almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts (which have the best Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of all the nuts), pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Note: Due to their toxin level, peanuts and peanut butter are off the menu. Did you know that peanuts are not really a nut, but a legume?
- Oils: Try macadamia oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil (for drizzling purposes, not to heat or cook with) and walnut oil.
- Seeds: Pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds and pine nuts are great Paleo choices.
- Animal fats: Eating animal fats can be healthy when they come from pastured-raised, grass-fed sources, such as tallow (beef fat), lamb fat, duck fat, and schmaltz (chicken fat).
Yes, animal fats! That's good old back to nature fats – grandma-like – fats that get you really healthy when they come from a healthy animal. If you are worried about heart disease … worry more about these oils than these healthy fats. There is a lot of research showing us that inflammation is like charred glass on our vessels causing heart attacks, not healthy fats.
Besides, you can’t negate the fact that since the vegetable oil consumption rose dramatically between the beginnings of the 20th century, this had an entirely predictable effect on our health. In fact, the USA is right up there at the top of the highest intake of Omega-6 oils and the greatest risk of heart disease.
Proof:An analysis published in 2010 by the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that a relationship exists between the intake of saturated fat and incidence of heart disease or stroke. This study pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people — 11,000 of whom developed cardiovascular disease — tracked for an average of 14 years. You can read more about this analysis here. (Oh, and if you’re not into reading research, check out the movie Fat Head, which reveals the truth behind these oils) Again, these fats are damaging and cause inflammation, so toss these in a trash bag without a second thought:
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Partially hydrogenated oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil
- Trans fats (hydrogenated oils)
- Vegetable shortening