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Vegetable Oils: Why You Should Avoid Them

Published January 24, 2019 (Revised: May 17, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>We all know that preparing quality meals is one key to being healthy. But so is what we use to cook our meals. For example, how much do you know about the oils you cook with? Do you know which types of oils are healthy for your body? And did you know that some oils-like vegetable oil-are potentially harmful to your health?</p> <p>Maybe you’ve never thought about how often you use oil to cook food, but oils are often the basis for many of our favorite meals, especially if you’re on the keto diet. We use oil to prepare anything from <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">homemade vinaigrettes</a> to pan-seared veggies. This makes it a topic worth discussing.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll take a look all things oil. We’ll make a case for you to only cook with a few oils, namely, coconut oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil. And we’ll also dive into the ugly truth about vegetable oils and why you should avoid them.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Are My Options for Cooking with Oils?</header> <p>Keto dieters need to eat about 70 percent of their daily calories in fats. This liberal amount requires variety in our meals. Let’s start by looking at four of our options. There are more, but the goal of this article is to keep it short and actionable. Use these as a starting block to guide your decisions.</p> <div class="sub-head">Vegetable Oil</div> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="healthy-oils"> </picture> <p>Though the word ‘vegetable’ implies they would be healthy, you have to be careful with vegetable oils. Unfortunately, they are used liberally across the spectrum of food preparation (you’ll see why in the history section later on).</p> <p>Vegetable oils range in use from frying oil to an additive in processed foods like mayonnaise or cookies<sup>1</sup>. Outside of cooking, vegetable oils are also used as a biodiesel fuel for cars<sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>Vegetable oils are extracted from plants using a chemical solvent, purified, and even sometimes chemically altered. As we’ll discuss soon, the cold-pressed oils skip this process.</p> <div class="sub-head">Extra Virgin Olive Oil</div> <p>Olive oil is a very popular (and healthy) option for cooking. About 73 percent of olive oil’s composition is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which helps reduce inflammation and may even ward off cancer<sup>3, 4</sup>.</p> <p>Among its many health benefits<sup>5</sup>, olive oil is also a versatile cooking option. Its one drawback is that if it gets too hot, it may affect the flavor and profile of the oil, potentially even creating cancerous compounds<sup>6</sup>.</p> <div class="sub-head">Coconut Oil</div> <p>Coconut oil has gotten incredibly popular in recent years because it cooks well and contains powerful <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">MCT oils</a>. Believe it or not, some people even use it as a natural sunscreen<sup>7</sup>.</p> <p>Coconut oil mostly consists of saturated fats that allow it to cook at higher temperatures than olive oil without smoking. In fact, it will sit as a solid at room temperature and often needs to be scooped out of a jar before being used.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="avocado"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">Avocado Oil</div> <p>You may notice that a lot of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">our recipes</a> call for avocado oil--and there are good reasons why.</p> <p>Similar to olive oil, avocado oil are made up of more than 70 percent healthy fats, both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Avocado oil is also packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, that are both anti-inflammatory compounds and can even help increase nutrient absorption in the gut<sup>8</sup>.</p> <p>And just like olive oil, it’s great to have around the kitchen. It’s easy to use on a salad, for baking, or even when grilling meat.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What’s Wrong with Vegetable Oils?</header> <p>If being used as a biodiesel fuel for cars didn’t give it away, here we explain the problems with vegetable oils that concern our health.</p> <div class="sub-head">Omega-3 and Omega-6</div> <p>One health concern of processed vegetable oils is the imbalance of fatty acids in our bodies. Basically, our bodies have adapted to have a specific omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in our brains, and a lot of omega-6 fatty acid messes with our natural chemistry<sup>9</sup>.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="girl-in-flower-field"> </picture> <p>For reference, that ratio is about 1:1. This may actually be an easy mnemonic device for you to apply to your eating. Just remember, any time you eat processed foods, you should be balancing them with something high in omega-3s like <a href="" rel="noreferrer">salmon</a> or olive oil.</p> <p>Of course, if you’re following the keto diet, you're not really eating processed foods to begin with. But it’s something to keep in mind. </p> <div class="sub-head">Inclusion of Trans Fats</div> <p>There are several types of fats we’ve discussed to this point: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated. Maybe you’ve also heard of <i>trans fats</i> before. And if you have, perhaps you don’t associate trans fats with anything positive.</p> <p>That’s probably because on January 1, 2011, trans fats were banned from being used in industrial food production settings<sup>10</sup>.</p> <p>All you need to know about trans fats is that they form when oils are hydrogenated. This means that at room temperature, the oil will be solid. For example, before it was banned, margarine typically consisted of a lot of trans fats.</p> <p>This is concerning for our health, because trans fats have been linked to serious diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes<sup>11</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What are the Common Vegetable Oils Used?</header> <p>Understand that not all plant oils are created equal. Olive oil and coconut oil are technically classified as plant oils but are considered to be healthy staples for our diet due to their omega-3 to -6 ratios. </p> <p>The risky vegetable oils you should look out for are soybean, canola (which is made from seeds), corn, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut, and sesame oil.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>History of Vegetable Oils</header> <p>Humans have historically found ways to include oils into their diet. From the early days of packing oily fish (did you know sardines were packaged as early as the fifteenth century<sup>12</sup>?), to the modern day artisan salads you find at restaurants, we’ve consistently shown a love for this fatty substance.</p> <p>The truth is, the way we’ve consumed oils has changed drastically in the last century-and not for the better. Due to the rapid increase in the consumption of processed foods, it’s now estimated that the Western dieter has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of <i>20:1</i><sup>13</sup>!</p> <p>Among the many health concerns, this imbalance of fatty acids is a prime factor for chronic inflammation that leads to diseases like cancer, diabetes, and more.</p> <p>But the use of vegetable oils is still rather new. Prior to their introduction, we tended to cook with animals fats like lard or butter. Here’s a brief recap of how we arrived in this situation:</p> <div class="sub-head">1950-90s</div> <p>Vegetable oils like canola began to really overtake animal fats as the primary cooking oil in no small part to the fact that Crisco, one of the primary producers of cotton seeds (the raw ingredient of canola oil), donated 1.5 million dollars to the American Heart Association to fund research<sup>14</sup>.</p> <p>From that point on, the use of vegetable oils soared. They were found anywhere from inside the fryer to packaged foods. It didn’t help animal fat’s case that, around 1970, the American Heart Association also began associating saturated fat with heart disease. </p> <p>These things paved the way for the rest of the millennium, as the mantra “fat makes you fat” encouraged people to use the perceived <i>healthier</i> vegetable oil.</p> <div class="sub-head">1990s-Now</div> <p>Low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Atkins</a> have paved the way for people to see that fat may not be the culprit. Actually, because of the body transformations so many have had, fat <i>may</i> be a solution for curing the American obesity epidemic.</p> <p>Of course, vegetable oils are still used. If you look at the label of any processed food, you are sure to find some of them there. But people are slowly coming around to the fact that saturated fats like coconut may actually be incredibly healthy and even help us <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lose weight</a>.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="coconuts"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Cold-Pressed vs. Processed Oils</header> <p>You now know that vegetable oils are processed and sometimes even chemically enhanced before they arrive in your kitchen cupboard. But do you know what the terms <i>cold-pressed</i> or <i>extra virgin</i> mean?</p> <p>Basically, cold-pressed oil means that no further refinement or chemical enhancement takes place after the oil is extracted from the fruit or vegetable. This helps to maintain the natural flavor and aroma of something like olive oil, which has a distinct taste on its own.</p> <p><i>Extra virgin</i> olive oil takes it a step further. The final product is 100 percent unrefined. When you purchase a really expensive olive oil, it’s often produced from olives that are cold-pressed only once to ensure maximum flavor.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Vegetable Oils and Weight Loss</header> <p>Can processed vegetable oils actually prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals? The answer, as frightening as it is, is <i>yes</i>. </p> <p>Beside containing the disease-linking properties of an off-balance ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in your body, vegetable oils can also cause you to feel hungry more often and to retain water<sup>15</sup>.</p> <p>It would be a real shame if vegetable oil was the cause of your weight loss plateaus, especially if you’re taking the right steps to eating healthy foods and exercising on a regular basis.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>How to Substitute Vegetable Oils</header> <p>If you’re used to using vegetable oils in your food, we recommend you start off using the three healthy oils we’ve talked about earlier: coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="olive-oil-and-herbs"> </picture> <p>Why? Well, for starters, all three taste great. You can also easily find them at any grocery store. And last but not least, all three oils oils are incredibly healthy and compatible with the ketogenic diet.</p> <p>Having coconut, avocado and olive oil on hand also allows for some variety. For example, you might prefer to use coconut oil and its higher smoke point to whip up a stir fry. For a salad, you might drizzle avocado or olive oil on top. The possibilities are endless, and no matter which one you choose, you can feel good about what you are putting in your body!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Wrapping Up</header> <p>Vegetable oils are hazardous to your health and can even affect your weight loss goals. And the truth is, healthy oils like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil are easily accessible and reasonably enough priced that there’s no real reason you can’t be using them instead!</p> <p>Our advice is simple: ditch the processed, chemically altered fats and move towards the healthier stuff. It may take you a bit to adjust, but we know from experience that a lot of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">tasty recipes</a> can come from olive, avocado, and coconut oil.</p> <p>Plenty more nutrition guidance and resources that change the way people are eating and seeing food are available right now on <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">our blog</a>. And if you’re ready to start your own Warrior Made body transformation, here’s where you can <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">learn more</a>.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Are Vegetable and Seed Oils Bad for Your Health?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Biodiesel from vegetable oils</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Biodiesel from vegetable oils</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Oleic acid</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Coconut Oil Sunscreen</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Avocado Oil</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Optimize Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Trans Fat</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Sardines as food</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Health effects of trans fatty acids</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">The Shocking Origin of Vegetable Oil</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">The Truth About Fats</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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