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Saturated fat gets vilified in much of the medical community, blamed for heart disease and all kinds of ills. But vegetable oil is actually an enormous contributor to health problems. So what types of fat are really healthy?
What Is Vegetable Oil?
“Vegetable oil” is a highly processed and refined type of oil that doesn’t really come from vegetables at all. It’s often made from corn or soy, and also includes cottonseed, grapeseed, canola, and many other types of plant-based oils.
Vegetable oil has been touted as the heart-healthy oil option for years. The problem is that it’s a highly processed food that can cause many health issues of its own. It is high in omega-6 fatty acids. When your diet consists heavily of these, it disrupts the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats, leading to inflammatory problems and free radicals that can damage your cells.
Is Vegetable Oil Bad?
While vegetable oils are praised for being a heart-healthy alternative to saturated fats, research from 2018 actually shows that vegetable oils raise levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol in the body. This process can cause inflammation and plaque build-up in arteries leading to heart disease. The big modernized food swap to decrease heart disease actually contributed to heart disease being the number one killer in the US.
Vegetable oils also oxidize easily in response to air and light. Because of the way that these oils are processed, they are often damaged even before they are bottled. When oil oxidizes, it turns rancid and can affect the cells of your body in negative ways. Your body relies on dietary fats to produce hormones and to use as the building blocks of cell repair. If you only give it rancid, oxidized oil, it will affect the quality of the cells that are being rebuilt.
Other problems with vegetable oil:
- It can lead to obesity.
- It is associated with increased breast cancer risk.
- It is processed with chemical additives and solvents.
- It is generally manufactured from crops that are heavily treated with glyphosate, a toxic pesticide.
What Kinds of Fats Are Healthy?
In order to be optimally healthy, your body needs a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats. The average diet in the US has a ratio of closer to 10:1 or 20:1. An achievable goal that would provide substantial health benefits is 3:1. That’s a calamitous deviation from balanced fat intake.
Don’t eat these types of fats:
- “Vegetable oil”
- Grapeseed oil
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Peanut oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Vegetable shortening
While butter and saturated fat in general are still taboo in the conventional medical community, research supports the nutritional value of these traditional fat sources that were abundant in ancestral diets.
An older study from 1997 compared the heart health of men over 20 years. It noted that heart attacks happened more frequently in the group that made margarine its fat of choice. When butter was eaten more, heart attack incidence decreased.
Your entire diet shouldn’t be saturated fats, but you also shouldn’t be afraid to eat them.
Healthy fats come in many different forms, and a nourishing ancestral diet should generously include them. The best healthy fat sources include:
- Grass-fed beef, bison, and lamb
- Tallow, lard, chicken fat, and duck fat
- Chicken and duck eggs from pastured sources
- Coconut oil (unrefined)
- Grass-fed butter, ghee, cream, and cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Wild-caught seafood (salmon, sardines, cod, etc.)
Today’s Simple Step
Be more generous with the healthy fat in your diet! Your cells will thank you for it.
While we’re at it, do a pantry and fridge clean-out to get rid of harmful vegetable oils. Normally we are not in favor of food waste, but vegetable oils are an exception. They come with such serious health risks that we suggest making an immediate switch to healthier, traditional versions.
This Salmon with Roasted Poblano, Caper Salsa, and Fingerling Potatoes is a savory way to get a nice helping of omega-3 fats along with protein.