Garbage is what I affectionately call my fine friends: Mr. Safflower, Lady Cottonseed, Sir Soybean, Captain Corn, Señorita Canola, Sargent Safflower, and Her Majesty Sally Sunflower. All a bunch of hoodlums.
Why do I hate these oils, so? They are just trying to do an honest day’s work, greasing your pan and delighting your salad.
Or are they?
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM? WHY ARE THEY HERE?
It’s a long story.
The short version is: money. Lots of money is made from cheap, mostly GMO oil. It started with faulty science—research that vilified saturated fats. And then companies seized the opportunity to create products for “non-fat” appetites. Clever marketing slowly brainwashed the masses—after all, who doesn’t love a product that’s cheap and allegedly “heart healthy”! Plus convenient. It’s a panacea of modern technology—no more clogged arteries!!
Government agencies adopted new dietary recommendations, as did the American Heart Association and other prominent organizations. Doctors jumped on the bandwagon. Nutritionists followed suit. And the Pied Piper drowned us all in an ocean of vegetable oil.
This dietary transformation from good fats to bad fats has been one of the most detrimental human experiments of all time and it’s not yet over; Americans have steadily become more obese and unhealthy as these oils have infiltrated every nook and cranny of the American diet. They have largely displaced the traditional oils and fats that kept people healthy. If only people knew how vegetable oil was made…
HOW THIS CRAP IS MADE
Vegetable oils are derived from seeds and beans that have undergone extensive industrialized processing that completely transforms them from the original seed. Some version of this formula is used for most industrial oils:
Wanna know how it’s made? Click here.
Looks tasty, right?
BUT ISN’T ALL FOOD PROCESSED? WE DON’T JUST SQUEEZE OIL OUT OF AN OLIVE WITH OUR FINGERS, DO WE?
Well I do, but it’s one of my superhero powers. lol.
Almost all foods require some processing, but there’s a fundamental difference between traditional and modern processing. Traditional relies on techniques like fermenting and sprouting that enhance the nutritional content and digestibility of food. Or cold-pressing, which retains the integrity of the food. Modern processing requires harsh chemicals and high heat which degrade and destroy the nutrients and often create toxic substances.
So if in doubt, use the following rule of thumb: if it is made in a factory using stainless steel vats, a deodorizer, a de-gummer, and petroleum-derived solvents, don’t eat it.
WHAT ABOUT BUTTER?
Good question. Let’s look at how it’s made:
- Milk the cow.
- Let cream separate and skim it off.
- Agitate until it becomes solid. Hello butter! You sound like a real food!
WHAT ABOUT BEEF TALLOW?
Beef tallow has been around since the Paleolithic era—probably enough time for our bodies to adjust to it. It is a real food with a smokin’ high smoke point and it’s as nutrient-dense as it gets. Plus—fun fact—it can be used as a healthy and effective skin cream.
Want some proof? The Oiling of America is the best movie I’ve seen since The Untouchables, so grab some popcorn and get ready to have your socks blown off:
I know, you were going to watch that paranormal series Stranger Things tonight. But I promise you, this is even stranger, and arguably more of a horror movie. So snuggle up with your Demogorgon and let yourself be horrified.
What exactly does vegetable oil do?
It causes imbalances between polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS) Omegas 3 and 6 in our bodies which can cause dysfunction of the immune system, liver toxicity, mental decline and chromosome damage.
It oxidizes when exposed to light, heat, and air. Oxidized fats become free radicals, and free radicals damage cell membranes, blood vessels, and DNA strands.
We weren’t meant to eat this stuff.
Want to get some good PUFAs? Eat raw nuts and seeds and refrigerate them in a container that blocks light. Macadamia nut oil is loaded with nutrients and great for high-heat cooking. Also eat fish and fish oils.
More about vegetable oil here.
A SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT FOR MY FAVORITE VILLAINS:
Canola: Canola oil deserves a special place in Hell for deceiving not only the general public, but also chefs, even at illustrious restaurants. A huge marketing campaign has resulted in widespread use of this oil even among health-conscious people. Canola is close to my heart, so I devoted an entire blogpost to it, but here are the cliff notes:
- Derived from the poisonous rapeseed plant.
- Hybridized to remove its heart-damaging erucic acid.
- Heated to 500˚ during manufacturing.
- May cause Vitamin E deficiency
- Recent studies show link to Alzheimer’s Disease.
- 85% of the world crop is genetically modified
- Expeller-pressed non-GMO Canola, while free of heavy metals, may have been exposed to heat or light, so hard to know if rancid or not.
Soybean: The largest US crop after corn, soybeans cover a quarter of American’s farmland. More than 90% of the crop is genetically modified. It’s likely to contain traces of hexane residue (a solvent), even in organic oil and soy foods. Read all about soy.
Cottonseed Oil: Comes from a plant that’s not even edible—cotton. This is widely considered the world’s dirtiest crop. It notably contains the pesticide Aldicarb, which is acutely poisonous to humans and wildlife. Read more about it!
Safflower: Safflower is the highest in unstable PUFAs and can cause allergic reactions. In high doses it can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
Sunflower: Sunflower oil has all the flaws of other oils and none of the benefits of the enormously healthy seed. There is a less toxic variety —called extra-virgin sunflower oil (or cold pressed/high stearic/high linoleic). While better than the standard kind—and also better than drinking motor oil—it is still a poor choice: it’s high in PUFAs, unstable and not good for cooking. Eat sunflower seeds instead!
Corn: The majority of corn oil comes from genetically engineered corn. This ubiquitous foodstuff is cheap to produce and thus finds its way into most processed food, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup. In 1996, corn was genetically modified again with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt, which breaks open the stomachs of certain insects. This deadly toxin hurts our stomachs, too, and can trigger immune system responses like allergies, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. More about corn.
Margarine: This foodstuff is made by hardening vegetable oils. Research shows that partially hydrogenated oils—the main component of most margarine—increases blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Data on deaths due to hydrogenated oils have been piling up and the FDA finally banned it in 2018.
If you want to read more about all these villains click here.
GOOD OILS AND FATS:
What makes an oil good? Well, most of them have a long track record and were used by traditional cultures. They are all made of real food and are minimally processed using methods that maintain the integrity of the original ingredients. Incidentally, our bodies are made of fats—specifically saturated and monounsaturated fats. This is true even if you’re skinny, people.
Olive Oil: The oldest known oil, olive oil was first made by Southern Europeans 3,000 years ago. It is traditionally made by pressing the flesh of fresh olives. Great for sautéing and as salad dressing. Fairly resistant to high heat, making it less prone to breaking down.
Coconut Oil: High in saturated fats, this oil is shelf-stable, meaning it has a long shelf -life and will not deteriorate. Stable at high temperatures, it is rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, preventing the oxidative damage which leads to disease. For very high heat cooking, look for refined coconut oil, which has a higher smoke point.
Animal Fat: Has been used since the dawn of humanity. Grass-fed beef tallow and poultry fat are great for cooking and the safest oils for frying. They contain a near-perfect balance of Omega 3s and 6s as well as vitamin D which most of us are lacking.
Avocado Oil. Nutritionally similar to olive oil, it contains lots of Vitamin A, E, and D, plus magnesium and antioxidants. The oil appears to increase the body’s ability to absorb cancer-fighting cartenoids. It can penetrate into our mitochondria, increasing energy levels and reducing effects of aging. It may improve liver function and can reduce skin damage from UV as well as reduce wrinkles. There’s not a lot to not like!
Ghee: Used for thousands of years in the healing tradition of Ayurvedic cooking. With a high smoke point of 485˚, it can be used for high-heat cooking. Naturally rich in anti-oxidative properties while boosting absorption of vitamins A, E, and K. A good source of DHA, another essential fatty acid (EFA) shown to reduce heart attacks, cancer, insulin resistance and improve cognitive function.
Butter: Butter contains butyric acid, which is anti-inflammatory, it boosts energy and metabolism, and it’s high in CLA, which helps fight disease. Be sure to only buy grass-fed, which is packed with nutrients.
Red Palm Oil. Palm oil comes from the flesh of the palm fruit. Look for a brand sustainably grown and harvested. Nutiva is one example. Don’t confuse with palm kernel oil.
Sesame. Should be extra-virgin. Use sparingly for low-heat sautéing. Full of good nutrients like B-6, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
So what can I use my vegetable oils for?
- a) clean your tools
- b) make play dough
- c) lubricate your car engine
- d) coat your snow shovel—prevent snow from sticking to it!
- e) soften your baseball mitt
- e) grease the landfill so food slides down to the bottom
STILL NOT SURE YOU BELIEVE IT? WANT TO KNOW MORE?
HOW COME THE MAYO CLINIC AND OTHER HOSPITALS AND NUTRITIONISTS RECOMMEND VEGETABLE OILS? Click here.
This is a very comprehensive read on oils and fats. Probably more than you ever wanted to know and substantiated with more links than you’ll ever have time for.
If you want to know the history of cooking oil and the minutiae of manufacturing, check this out.
Or, here’s a fun read, written by a comedian, that basically sums it all up while disrupting the establishment.
And if you really don’t have any time, just watch this quick video clip.
The GFF’s Favorite Brands
Grass Fed Ghee
Macadamia Nut Oil