When most people think of cooking oils, what immediately comes to mind is vegetable or canola oil. These oils are found in abundance in the grocery stores because they are cheap to produce–due in part to the government subsidization of corn crops. But these oils, along with oils like soybean, cottonseed and safflower, are highly processed and rancid. I can’t encourage you strongly enough to remove them from your diet!
Processed oils are extracted by high heat and pressure and the use of solvents. The fats in these oils are exposed to light and air, which oxidizes the fat (turns them rancid). The oil is then boiled to remove most of the solvent. The high heat and pressure destroy antioxidants and alter the chemical nature of the fat, creating dangerous free radicals. BHA and BHT, dangerous preservatives, are then often added to the oil to extend the shelf life.
Hydrogenization is similar to homogenization: it is the use of agitation and pressure to create creaminess in foods and prevent separation. It involves the addition of a hydrogen atom.
During hydrogenation, oils are turned into solid form for ease of use. Extracted oils are mixed with metal particles and treated with high-heat and pressure along with hydrogen gas. Emulsifiers are added to the mixture which is then steam-cleaned to remove rancid odors. It is then bleached and artificial dyes and flavorings are added.
Trans fats are found in partially hydrogenated fats and oils. They are dangerous because they are incorporated into the body’s cell membranes and interfere with normal cell metabolism and other chemical reactions.
Hydrogenated fats have been linked to:
- Birth defects
- Bone and tendon problems
- Digestive disorders
- Heart disease
- Immune system impairment
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Learning disabilities
- Liver problems
- Low birth weights
- Reduced growth
- Sexual dysfunction
- Skin reactions
- Vision reduction
Better Oils to Consume
A much better option for cooking is unrefined coconut oil. This oil is far less processed and also has a higher heat threshold.
Many people will cook with olive oil, but this is still not your best option due to the lower heat threshold it has. Use olive oil in your salad dressings or other dishes that aren’t exposed to heat.
Animal fats and tropical oils, such as coconut oil, are forms of saturated fats. It has long been believed that saturated fats were behind high cholesterol levels and heart disease. In fact, research does not support this claim. Unsaturated fat makes up 74% of the fat that is found in clogged arteries, and more than half of that is polyunsaturated fat.
Many long-living cultures ingest large amounts of saturated fats which also contain many disease-fighting nutrients and phytonutrients. Mother’s breast milk is also high in saturated fats, which babies need for the development of their brain and nervous system.
Cold-pressed, minimally processed and unrefined plant oils are much safer choices than hydrogenated oils. After reading about the processing of oils, can you agree that those oils aren’t even real foods?