Updated: May 25
Since we are made-up of the nutrients we surround ourselves with and eat, it is important to be conscious of what they are...
Fat is a seriously important building block in our body. It is on the surface of our skin, it protects our hair, it surrounds the myelin sheaths in our brain and our nervous system, it is a precursor to our hormones, it lubricates our digestive system and absorbs our fat-soluble vitamins, it supports our skeletal system, joints and gives us energy to live our life!
So just think: if we feed our body rancid, damaged, poor quality, nutrient-less oils, then guess what? This will reflect in the quality of our human body.
Have you noticed?
Take a look at the boxes and bags within the isles of the grocery stores: have you noticed that most of them will contain canola oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, shortening, cottonseed oil, palm oil, soybean oil and corn oil? These oils are cheap to produce and refine to a blank-slate to sell for further manufacturing.
How many packages do you see with an ingredient label containing: butter, ghee, lard, tallow, olive and/or coconut oil? According to molecular structure, saturated fat like butter, ghee, tallow, lard and coconut oil are the most stable oils for processing, next nut and olive oil, but these are more expensive- so likely not!! Unless you are willing to pay the price... Food manufacturing companies have money on the mind.. not necessarily our health.
What are disadvantages of mass-producing oils?
.. and the disadvantages to buying oil from companies that sell it cheap and give no f*cks to their manufacturing techniques?
Light, heat and air damages oil and as oil is manufactured on a larger scale, these factors must be taken into consideration. This is why high quality oil is much more expensive and sometimes not even available at budget grocery stores.
When an oil is damaged its chemical structure and bonds can break. This change impacts how the oil reacts in our body. A damaged molecule causes inflammation and is then a source of 'free radical damage' & ' oxidative damage'. Eventually continual inflammation like this leads to degenerative disease, cancer, etc.
Damaged oil is known as trans fat. This is why you will see marketing for 'no trans fat' on labels. That being said, labelling laws allow companies to label food as trans-fat free based off the initial ingredient listing before processing and if it is within the allowed regulated amount. Therefore damaged fat molecules may still be present in a jar of mayo or bag of chips that is labelled 'tran-fat free'. Foods common to contain trans fat are margarine, shortening, hydrogenated oils, fried foods and foods made from these foods.
Much mass-produced oil comes from mono-cropped farms. This type of mass-grown agriculture is associated with the use of GMO seed and chemical use, like the use of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides- i.e it is not organic agriculture. This type of agriculture + chemical use is bad news for our health and the environment!
Refined oils contain less nutritional value compared to small-scale cold-pressed unrefined oils (notice this in the diagram below).
The oil may not even be a food-type oil, and rather a by-product of animal feed or another industry's waste (cottonseed oils are a good example of this).
To gain more yield oils are extracted with a solvent, like hexane which is a petroleum by-product.
A manufacturers technique: deodorize to prevent our senses from detecting when their product is rancid. (This is like cheating in my opinion!)
Still not convinced?
Still eating canola oil? Still eating processed foods? Still shopping foodstuff from the isles?
In one of my favourite books and textbooks from nutrition school, Edu Erasmus calls it "Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill." He proposes that degenerative disease was born when we began to process and manufacture vegetable oils, and then use it to fuel the processed food revolution that is plaguing our society today.
I still meet with people who are afraid of saturated fat and cholesterol!! How common is it for people to avoid wholesome, nourishing foods like nuts, seeds, animal meat, butter and eggs and instead reach for packaged foods, cheap oils, margarine, plant-based overly processed substitutes and synthetic creations to satisfy a 'low-fat' or 'low sugar' diet?
Below is a simple flow diagram snapped from "Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill," the book I just mentioned above. The picture shows oil processing, along the right side are the nutrients lost as the oil goes through more intense refining.
As we can see margarine and shortenings go through the most intense processing, with the highest amount of nutrients lost.
Check out this link: a YouTube video by"How It's Made" about how canola oil is processed. The process depicted in the video is a similar process used to extract other common vegetable oils and similar to the diagram above.
Importance of 'How It's Made' video:
The video went viral in the health community because it shows the intense processing endured by one of the most popular oils in our society. Canola oil is used at home, restaurants, take-out establishments, grocery stores and packaged foods. I still meet with people for nutrition appointments and they are unsure of whether or not to continue to use canola oil or vegetable oils for their home cooking.
The video starts off with : "Canola oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils" which I would quickly question once it shows the heavy machinery used separating the seed, crushing the seed and then eventually shows putting it through a 70 minute wash with a chemical solvent.
Does it make you want to eat the oil?
Tips to avoid trans fat + how to eat healthy fats:
Try to consume oil through wholefoods- like oily plants and animal foods.
Keep aware when eating out- especially fried foods!
Use your nose when smelling oils, it should not smell sour!
Prepare your foods at home and invest in your favourite oils to ensure they are unrefined, cold-pressed, and from healthy animals.
Use saturated fats for high heat cooking- i.e keep your drippings from cooking meat from healthy animals.
Avoid hydrogenated oils! Read the label and steer clear of cheap bakery items and cheap processed foods.
Keep delicate oils in the fridge or the freezer (omegas, like ground nuts and seeds).
If you are trying to adjust your cholesterol, focus on your sugar intake, not eliminating healthy whole-fat foods from your diet! More on that here.