by Nick Meyer
For many years health “experts” have been telling us to avoid butter and coconut oil like the plague, and to instead opt for polyunsatured fat laden vegetable oils like corn and canola oil.
But new research conducted by top British scientists is threatening to upend the whole order of the cooking oil business – urging people ditch the cheap vegetable oils that dominate store shelves in favor of healthier (and more expensive) options lower in polyunsaturated fat like olive oil, coconut oil, butter and even lard.
Saturated fats from healthy sources are actually gaining attention as being healthier than once thought. Have you ever seen news stories on some of the world’s oldest people and been shocked to see that they cooked their food in butter or lard? Or perhaps reports of surprisingly low heart disease rates in island countries where high-fat coconut oil is widely consumed?
It seems as if there may be more to these “coincidences” than once thought with more and more research confirming that it is simply much safer to cook with good old fashioned saturated fats. And opting for these high-fat types of oils instead of the usual vegetable oils could protect the health of not just your body, but also your brain from serious long-term damage and side effects.
Toxic Chemicals in Vegetable Oil
Ever hear the saying that “what’s on the back of the package is more important than what’s on the front of the package?” That may be more true than ever in the case of corn, canola, and other vegetable oil packages that boast “heart healthy” labels simply due to an outdated modality of basing health properties on the level of overall fats present.
Coconut oil ranked best among cooking oils. Image via Flickr
Scientists John Stein from Oxford University and Martin Grootveld from De Montfort University in Britain both discovered what they say are serious health problems caused by low-fat vegetable oils, as noted in the Telegraph newspaper. Grootveld led a team analyzing levels of aldehydic “lipid oxidation products” (LOPs), and found heating the oils led to the release of high levels of chemicals linked to cancer, heart disease and even dementia, aledhydes.
His findings were backed up by Stein, Oxford’s emeritus professor of neuroscience, who found something even more disturbing about these polyunsaturated oils.
“…The human brain is changing in a way that is as serious as climate change threatens to be,” he said. “I believe the lack of omega 3 is a powerful contributory factor to such problems as increasing mental health issues and other problems such as dyslexia.”
Regardless of how you feel about climate change that is a disturbing parallel to say the least.
Stein believes that the vegetable oils, which are rich in omega 6 acids, reduce the amount of crucial omega 3 acids in the brain because they are capable of replacing them. He added that he has dumped the vegetable oils from his kitchen including sunflower and corn oil and is now using olive oil and butter instead.
Best Oils to Replace Corn and Canola
If you’ve been using any of the aforementioned vegetables in your cooking there are healthier options according to the study. Many vegetable oils are not only genetically engineered (canola/rapeseed, corn and soy are all usually GMO) but they also have a tendency to become rancid when they sit in warehouses and are left exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.
In place of these oils you may want to try grass fed butter, lard, olive oil (better at low heat typically), and of course the winning oil in this study – coconut oil. Coconut oil was found to have the lowest levels of these harmful chemicals, and studies have shown that coconut oil maintains its integrity even after 6 hours of continuous deep frying.
With so much at stake there’s really no excuse to make the switch. Grootveld actually found that a “typical meal of fish and chips” contained as much as 100 to 200 times the safe amount of aldehyde chemicals set by the World Health Organization.
“This major problem has received scant or limited attention from the food industry and health researchers,” Grootveld said. “Evidence of high levels of toxicity from heating oils has been available for many years (but most people and government agencies still haven’t noticed, sadly).”