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Vegetable Oils May be Worse for You Than Thought

Vegetable Oils May be Worse for You Than Thought

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Just when we thought cooking with oils were beneficial to our health, this study shows we could be wrong

Although there are many health benefits of cooking oils, lowering heart disease may not be one of them.

Oil is a necessary ingredient when it comes to cooking. Although cooking with saturated fats such as animal fat and butter may taste better, we’ve always believed that cooking with vegetable oil is at least marginally healthier. But, according to the LA Times, this is a belief that could be wrong.

A study in Canada has shown that vegetable oil can increase the chances of heart disease. The research provided by the Canadian Medical Association Journal has shown that the polyunsaturated vegetable oils don’t show any benefits toward heart health.

These oils have lots of omega-6 linoleic acid, but very little omega-3-linolenic acid. Livestrong says Omega-6 linoleic acids are “considered essential fats that support brain function, bone health, reproductive health, hair growth, and regulation of metabolism.” Your body doesn’t produce these fats; it’s only accessible through foods. The other fatty acid, Omega-3 linoleic is also crucial for blood clotting and building cell membranes. Similar to Omega-6, this is a fatty acid that you can only get through food. What separates the two is that only the omega-3 acid has shown to lower your chances of heart disease, something cooking oils are missing.

These oils are everywhere from your salad dressing, to the mayonnaise you put on your sandwich, to the chips you eat.

The authors of the study are “asking the government to reconsider its labeling eligibility” for those with corn and safflower oil labeled as “healthy replacement for saturated fats.”

Don’t get us wrong; cooking with oils does have its benefits. From lowering your cholesterol and your chances of coronary artery disease, it’s still a better choice than cooking with saturated fats!

10 Common Foods That Are Worse for Your Body Than Sugar

While we know everyone has a varying understanding of what's healthy and what's not—and it's clear all food affects each body differently—there a few foods and ingredients that are no good across the board. You'll never hear us preach about dairy, gluten, or veganism as the only way to be healthy—only offer information based on expert advice, studies, and our own bodies. However, we feel comfortable saying the below foods are best to eliminate from your diet (or at least consume in limited moderation).

To do so, we asked nutritionists, sugar experts, and the like for the unhealthiest foods that fall into such a category. Below, find their science-backed advice.

The Lipid Hypothesis

The theory—called the lipid hypothesis—that there is a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease was proposed by a researcher named Ancel Keys in the late 1950’s. Numerous subsequent studies have questioned his data and conclusions. Nevertheless, Keys’ articles received far more publicity than those presenting alternate views. The vegetable oil and food processing industries, the main beneficiaries of any research that found fault with competing traditional foods, began promoting and funding further research designed to support the lipid hypothesis.

The most well-known advocate of the lowfat diet was Nathan Pritikin. Actually, Pritikin advocated elimination of sugar, white flour and all processed foods from the diet and recommended the use of fresh raw foods, whole grains and a strenuous exercise program but it was the lowfat aspects of his regime that received the most attention in the media. Adherents found that they lost weight and that their blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure declined. The success of the Pritikin diet was probably due to a number of factors having nothing to do with reduction in dietary fat—weight loss alone, for example, will precipitate a reduction in blood cholesterol levels—but Pritikin soon found that the fat-free diet presented many problems, not the least of which was the fact that people just could not stay on it. Those who possessed enough will power to remain fat-free for any length of time developed a variety of health problems including low energy, difficulty in concentration, depression, weight gain and mineral deficiencies. 1 Pritikin may have saved himself from heart disease but his lowfat diet did not spare him from cancer. He died, in the prime of life, of suicide when he realized that his Spartan regime was not curing his leukemia. We shouldn’t have to die of either heart disease or cancer—or consume a diet that makes us depressed.

When problems with the no-fat regime became apparent, Pritikin introduced a small amount of fat from vegetable sources into his diet—something like 10% of the total caloric intake. Today the Diet Dictocrats advise us to limit fats to 25-30% of the caloric intake, which is about 2 1/2 ounces or 5 tablespoons per day for a diet of 2400 calories. A careful reckoning of fat intake and avoidance of animal fats, they say, is the key to perfect health.

  • The healthier oils listed here are generally safe for most home-cooking uses, including higher temperature cooking such as stir-frying and pan frying. We do not recommend deep-fat frying as a cooking method.
  • Any oil starts to degrade once it reaches its smoke point. So, if you accidentally let your oil smoke or catch fire, get rid of it and start over.
  • If oil smells bad, don&rsquot use it. When an oil is stored too long it can become oxidized or rancid. It will have a distinct smell, and you should get rid of it.
  • Don&rsquot reuse or reheat any cooking oil.
  • Buy cooking oils in smaller containers to avoid waste, and store them in a dark, cool place to keep them fresh longer.

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

Miracle Whip vs. Mayonnaise

Ever since Kraft Miracle Whip made its debut in 1933 at the Chicago World&rsquos Fair, it has been labeled a &ldquodressing&rdquo rather than a mayonnaise. Although it looks like mayo, it actually isn&rsquot. Here&rsquos why.

Why Miracle Whip isn’t mayo: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that anything labeled "mayonnaise" contain a minimum of 65 percent vegetable oil by weight. And though Kraft keeps Miracle Whip’s exact oil content a secret, the company confirms that it is too low to meet the mayo standard.

What makes it different: While it contains mayo’s key ingredients (egg, soybean oil, vinegar, water), Miracle Whip sets itself apart with a sweet, spicy flavor that some folks prefer. First introduced during the Depression, when its cheaper price made it alluring to people who couldn’t afford more highfalutin mayo, it’s now caught up, costing about the same amount per ounce as the real thing. At any price, Miracle Whip still has legions of devotees: According to Kraft, it’s currently among the grocery industry’s 20 top-selling brands.

Sunflower oil is low in saturated fat and high in vitamin E. Many food manufacturers are recognizing the health benefits of sunflower oil and are using it as the preferred oil in such snack foods as potato chips. It can be used at home to fry, cook, and as the oil in salad dressings.

There are different varieties of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin, extra light, and refined. Extra virgin olive oil is the most common of those used. There are many uses for all varieties, such as stir-frying, cooking, sautéing and using as an ingredient in recipes. Olive oil is also frequently used in salad oils. It is the healthiest of all the oils as it is high in monounsaturated fat which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Many people use it daily in their meals, drizzling it over a wide variety of foods. As a cooking oil, it tends to have a lower smoke point and should be used when frying at low or medium high temperatures.

Hydrogenated Oils

A: They are not as bad, though more research is needed to better understand their health effects. The two kinds of oil are very different. Food manufacturers hydrogenate liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid and shelf stable. In partial hydrogenation, the resulting fats are semi-solid at room temperature. In full hydrogenation, the oils become completely solid.

The problem with partially hydrogenated oils is that they contain trans fat, which raises LDL (&ldquobad&rdquo) cholesterol, lowers HDL (&ldquogood&rdquo) cholesterol and has other harmful effects.

In contrast, fully hydrogenated oils, in essence, become saturated fats&mdashbut they contain no trans fat. And the type of saturated fat typically produced is thought to have no significant effect on cardiovascular risk.

The story doesn&rsquot end there, however. Fully hydrogenated oils are being used as a supposedly healthier replacement for partially hydrogenated oils. But food companies often blend fully hydrogenated oils with liquid vegetable oils and put them through a process called interesterification. This changes the structure of the oil so that it performs like a partially hydrogenated oil without the trans fat. Sounds great, but we don&rsquot yet know whether interesterified fats might have their own adverse health consequences.

Read the ingredients list. If you see &ldquopartially hydrogenated oil,&rdquo that means some trans fat is present, even if the label says &ldquo0&rdquo trans fat, which is allowed if a serving contains less than 0.5 grams. Some products, such as Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening, contain both partially and fully hydrogenated oils. If the label just says &ldquohydrogenated&rdquo oil, you don&rsquot know if it&rsquos fully or partially hydrogenated. Moreover, you can&rsquot always tell from the label if a fully hydrogenated oil has been interesterified.

All this is more reason to limit or avoid foods that contain any type of hydrogenated oil. These foods&mdashoften baked sweets and snack foods&mdashtend not to be healthy choices anyway.

Which is Better? Vegetable Oil vs. Olive Oil

We’ve often been puzzled why some recipes specifically call for vegetable oil while others call for olive oil. Here’s a quick run down of both oils and when you might choose one over the other…

Olive oil has a reputation for being the “healthy oil” since it’s rich in monounsaturated fats and some antioxidants. Good olive oils also have a pleasant flavor and aroma that compliment many dishes.

However, olive oil has a relatively low smoke point, making it less ideal for cooking methods requiring high heat like pan-searing and high-heat stir fries. There are also times when you may not want want the assertive flavor of olive oil in your dish or when its cost makes it less than ideal to use in cooking.

For these times, there’s vegetable oil. This is really a general category of oil that encompasses canola oil, grapeseed oil, and peanut oil, among others. Most vegetable oils have a higher smoke point and are better for high-temperature cooking. Canola and grapeseed also have less assertive flavors and are good to use for things like searing meat, making mayonnaise, and even popping popcorn.

In summary, use olive oil when you want its flavor in a dish and for moderate-heat cooking. Choose a vegetable oil when you want a cleaner flavor and for high-heat cooking.

If you find yourself out of the oil called for in your recipe, we’ve found these oils can be used interchangeably the majority of the time. For safety reasons, just pay attention to your heat when cooking with olive oil.

What Is Vegetable Oil?

As stated earlier, "vegetable oil" is really a catch-all term for any plant-based oil, but most of the time at the grocery store you&aposre buying corn or soybean oil.਌risco, for example, is 100% soybean-based oil. Like canola oil, vegetable oil is known for its neutral flavor and high smoke point. The nutritional benefits of the oil varies based on what the oil is made out of. If your vegetable oil is soybean-based, then it&aposs usually low in saturated fats and free of trans fats.

Oils to Avoid

There are some types of oil that should be avoided on a low-cholesterol diet.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are those that are solid at room temperature, which means they can enhance the formation of fatty deposits in blood vessels.   Butter, shortening, lard, hard-stick margarine all have high levels of saturated fat and should be avoided or used sparingly in a low-cholesterol diet.

Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated oils are processed for the sole purpose of prolonging shelf life. Hydrogenation involves adding hydrogen atoms to chemical bonds that make up the structure of the oil. As the level of hydrogenation increases, so do the viscosity and concentration of saturated fats.

Hydrogenation also creates harmful trans-fats, which can raise unhealthy LDL and lower healthy HDL.   Vegetable shortening is a prime example.

Tropical Oils

Although refined coconut oil has grown in popularity due to its neutral taste and relatively high smoke point (450 degrees F), it is 87% saturated fat and especially potent in its ability to raise LDL levels.  

Palm oil may be slightly better with 50% saturated fat but should be considered a no-no for those on a low-cholesterol diet. That goes double for palm kernel oil which teeters near the 85% saturated fat threshold.