Since the 1950’s these vegetable oils and their derivatives have been increasingly used in processed foods and for frying or cooking but are they healthy? Here are some dangers of vegetable oil.
Whenever you’re in the kitchen rustling up a storm, your hand invariably reaches for that familiar plastic bottle of vegetable oil. After all, that’s what your mother used. And besides, everyone else uses it too – from your friendly neighbor aunty to the chef at your favorite restaurant. So, why shouldn’t you?
Well, you shouldn’t. Contrary to popular (and brilliantly made) advertisements of vegetable oils, these oils are pretty far from healthy! Even those that claim to be packed with MUFA and PUFA (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats) and are touted as healthy and tasty options.
Why Is Vegetable Oil Not Healthy?
Every single can of vegetable oil you’ve ever had in your house is, well, just cheap and probably nothing more. Vegetable oils go through a very complicated manufacturing procedure before being sold in the market. Especially those that are of a darker hue. These oils go through heavy processing, which is inclusive of stages such as degumming, deodorizing, bleaching, filtering, and eliminating saturates to finally be put into bottles that land on the shelves of stores (1).
As a result, in the process of being manufactured, vegetable oils are exposed to a lot of chemicals, which makes them a dangerous choice when it comes to your health.
Here are the real dangers of consuming vegetable oils:
1. They Increase The Risk Of Diseases
Even though vegetable oil has been used as a cooking medium in your family for hundreds of years, it has never proven to be healthy. Recent studies have shown that consuming vegetable oil on a regular basis can increase your chances of getting cancer (2). Oils such as corn and sunflower oil, when used for frying food, actually release toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Moreover, prolonged consumption of heated oils also puts you at risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, and consequently CVD or cardiovascular diseases (3).
2. They Contain Very High Amounts Of Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 (a type of fatty acid) when consumed in excess, especially when the amount of Omega-3 is low in your diet, can give rise to severe inflammation in your body, which can lead to a host of diseases such as asthma, arthritis, etc. (4). This fatty acid is most commonly found in oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, and soybean. It can also cause other side effects such as acidity, belching, heartburn, bloating, and other digestive problems.
Now, to counter the ill-effects of Omega-6, a proper ratio between the consumption of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids has to be maintained, with the ideal being between 5:1 and 10:1. If that’s not the case with you, consuming vegetable oils can make matters worse.
3. They Can Cause Premature Aging
Some vegetable oils are rich in PUFA or polyunsaturated fats. Although touted as the good fats, long-term consumption of PUFA in the form of vegetable oils can have a damaging effect on your health. The main problem with PUFAs is that they’re very unstable. These types of fats get oxidized at a very low temperature and end up creating free radicals, which can lead to cellular damage – the internal (i.e. to your organs) or external (in the form of aging skin and graying hair) kind. Hence, vegetable oils are best avoided if you want to feel and look younger.
4. They Are Genetically Modified
First of all, vegetable oils should not technically be referred to as “vegetable” as they are made from grains. Second of all, they are made from genetically modified grain. Mostly at least. Genetically modified crops and organisms pose multiple side effects. Some of these include food allergies, increased exposure to toxins, lower intake of nutrients, and antibiotic resistance (5).
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5. They Possess High Amounts Of BHA And BHT
Most processed vegetable oils, or as they are known as ‘refined’ vegetable oils, contain high amounts of BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). The purpose of adding these is to help preserve the oils so that they can last longer. However, both of these food preservatives can have an adverse impact on your body.
Both BHA and BHT are carcinogenic substances, which means they have the potential to increase your chances of getting cancer (6). Besides, they can also cause hyperactivity or other such behavioral changes. So, if you and your family cook in vegetable oils on a regular basis, you’re doing so at your own risk.
The low price point of vegetable oils certainly makes them an attractive cooking medium, but their negatives far outweigh their positives. However, if cooking without oil is impossible and olive oil is just too expensive, try cooking your food with coconut oil. Coconut oil is extremely nutritious and it doesn’t oxidize as easily as vegetable oils when exposed to heat (7). Besides, it’s highly beneficial for your skin and hair too, so it’s definitely worth a shot!