At Real Life Medicine, we advocate a Low Carb Real Food Diet. Part of this includes eating healthy, natural (delicious) fats. Not all fats are healthy. In this blog, we discuss how industrial seed oils are neither healthy nor natural.
Seed oils are everywhere! They lurk in virtually every packet and box found on supermarket shelves. They sneak into muesli bars, sauces, salad dressings, meat products, pastries, and crumbed fish. They have been assumed to be healthy since their introduction to our diet, a very short time ago. However, growing evidence is emerging that, contrary to what we’ve been told, industrial seed oils such as soybean, canola, and corn oils are not “heart-healthy” or otherwise beneficial for our bodies and brains. Plenty of research indicates that Industrial Seed oils are making us sick.
Industrial seed oils are the highly processed oils extracted from canola (or rapeseed), soybeans, corn, cottonseed, safflower seeds, and sunflower seeds. They were only introduced into our diet in the early 1900s.
Soap makers Procter & Gamble created a new type of soap from vegetable oils. At this time, petroleum was displacing cottonseed oil as a fuel for lamps. They found that this excess cottonseed oils made good soap. While making cottonseed oil into soap, they found the oil could be chemically altered or “hydrogenated” to turn it into a solid cooking fat that looked a bit like lard. This cooking fat was Crisco. Later, more edible seed oils were added to the market.
A few decades later, in 1948, Procter & Gamble gave a lot of money to the American Heart Foundation, who then started promoting seed oils (now re-branded as vegetable oils) as “heart-healthy”. For more information on this and other shocking revelations about our peak health intuitions, check out the Nutrition coalitions article here. https://www.nutritioncoalition.us/news/2018/1/19/the-largest-promoters-of-high-carb-diets-are-funded-by-corporate-interests
This was as the Low Fat movement was taking off. Scientists such as Ancel Keys and his contemporaries were vilifying saturated fat as the cause of heart disease and were promoting the consumption of polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in seed oils.
We were strongly encouraged to replace natural and healthy animal fats (fats that humans had been eating for millennia) with more “heart-healthy” polyunsaturated fats in the forms of industrial seed oils.
These oils are very unnatural. The oils extracted from soybeans, corn, cottonseed, safflower seeds, and rapeseeds must be refined, heated to very high temperatures, bleached, and deodorized before they are suitable for human consumption.
Much of the early research done by scientists such as Ansel keys has since been found to be faulty. There is a growing body of evidence that there are no health benefits to these eating these industrial seed oils; in fact, there is emerging evidence that they are harmful to our health.
These highly processed oils are unstable and can be easily oxidised (or go rancid). When oxidised, they release both trans-fats (known to be very unhealthy) and lipid peroxidase (molecules that can then wreak havoc on our cells and damage DNA).
Being very rich in omega 6 fatty acids, industrial seed oils also disrupt our natural Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratios with disastrous consequences to human health.
Fatty acids are building blocks of fat. We have two essential fatty acids that we cannot make ourselves and must, therefore, get from food, hence the term “essential”. They are Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty addicts.
Omega 6 fatty acids are inflammatory. When we eat omega 6 fatty acids, it gives rise to potent metabolites that are primary pro-inflammatory. Omega 3 fatty acids give rise to anti-inflammatory metabolites. We need both omega 3 and omega 6 in our diets, but we need them in the right proportions. Too much Omega 6 and not enough omega 3 make you sick.
Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratios right = promotes health and low inflammation.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratios wrong = promotes inflammation and chronic disease.
Ancestrally, humans evolved to eat a diet with Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of about 1:1.
The modern western diet is very rich in Omega 6 (because of seed oils and increased grain consumption); some estimates say that modern western diet has ratios as high as 30:1. As a society we are eating way too much Omega 6.
Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids are processed by the same cellular pathways in our bodies. They compete with each other. In plain English, this means is that the more omega-3 fat you eat, the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation and make you sick. A diet with a lot of omega-6 and not much omega-3 will increase inflammation. A diet of a lot of omega-3 and not as much omega-6 will reduce inflammation.
Increased Omega 6 intake, increases inflammation and increases the risk of developing many inflammatory diseases which include (but are not limited too) the following:
- Reduce consumption of seed oils (also called vegetable oils). Read the ingredients if it has vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, safflower seed oil, soybean oil or rapeseed oil) don’t buy it and don’t eat it.
- Don’t eat processed food. Almost all processed foods from boxes and packets have seed oils. Crackers, biscuits, chocolate spread, sauces, mayonnaise and even some breads have seed oils – seed oils are everywhere in industrial food products.
- Limit the meals you have out at restaurants; restaurants will almost always use seed oils. We’re not saying don’t eat out, just don’t eat out every day.
- Limit consumption of meat from grain-fed animals and consumption of eggs from caged, non-pastured chickens
- Eat grass-fed beef and lamb, eat eggs from pastured chickens
- Eat fish and seafood
- If you are vegetarian, be careful to eat plenty of vegetarian sources, including seaweed and algae, chia seeds, hemp seeds.
We strongly recommended that you throw any bottles of seed oil that you may have in your kitchen. Once that is done, replace them with these healthy options:
Also, be sure to include plenty of healthy fats from other natural whole foods into your diet. Nuts, avocado, coconut, fatty fish and fatty cuts of meats are all excellent sources of natural, healthy.
Eat Real Food. Choose foods that are as close as possible to its natural form, then it was taken from the plant or from the animal with as little processing as possible, and you will be on the right track.
Dr Mary Barson and Dr Lucy Burns