This article may surprise you. Please read it in full because if you’re consuming vegetable oils and margarines in place of high quality butter, animal fats and coconut oil, you’re potentially pushing yourself towards disease.
Vegetable oils are toxic.
During the twentieth century, it became popular to assume that animal fats such as red meat, lard, butter, eggs and cheese – which contain predominantly saturated fat – were unhealthy and cause heart disease by promoting high cholesterol and clogged-up arteries.
At the same time, the food industry produced and marketed polyunsaturated oils (known as PUFA) from sunflower, safflower, nuts, corn, soybean, etc.) They also invented “butter substitutes” such as margarine and vegetable shortening.
These golden oils and butter substitute products were marketed as protective to the heart and cardiovascular system.
Folk went along with these theories until some eagle-eyed scientists and researchers began to question the validity of the research upon which the claims had been made.
Indeed, we now find ourselves in a position where a careful analysis of the scientific literature reveals the opposite to be true: excessive consumption of polyunsaturated oils causes degenerative diseases and saturated fats promote health!
Before we continue, let’s quickly take a look at the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats and oils:
When a fat or oil is saturated, it means that the molecule has all the hydrogen atoms it can hold (animal fats and coconut oil).
Unsaturation means that some hydrogen atoms have been removed, and this opens the structure of the molecule in a way that makes it susceptible to degradation (vegetable, nut and seed oils, margarines).
For example, rancidity of unsaturated oils occurs when they are exposed to oxygen, either when you open the bottle or when they’re in your body (which is rich in oxygen!)
On exposure to oxygen, light and heat, unsaturated oils form harmful free radicals (oxygen atoms that are missing an electron).
Free radicals are like pinballs bouncing around uncontrollably and and can damage cells, proteins and DNA.
It’s these “pinball” free radicals that cause oxidative stress, which ultimately is believed to cause aging and most of the modern diseases.
When unsaturated oils are exposed to free radicals they can create chain reactions of more and more free radicals that spread damage in the cell, and contribute to the cell’s aging.
It doesn’t matter what kind of cell we’re talking about – could be an artery cell, a brain cell, an ovary cell or an intestine cell.
It’s this kind of “oxidative damage” that leads the nutritional supplement industry to heavily promote antioxidant supplements like vitamins C and E, glutathione and coenzyme Q10, and healthy eating experts to promote a “rainbow” coloured diet rich in fresh fruit and veg.
The reason is that antioxidants neutralise the free radical molecules and quench the oxidative stress (as long as there are enough antioxidants to cope with the load).
Although polyunsaturated oils such as safflower, peanut, corn, soybean, flax, sunflower, canola/rapeseed and fish oil are marketed as being safe, many leading experts disagree (in fact, if they don’t disagree, they’re not experts in my book!)
Dr. Ray Peat PhD has analyzed the scientific literature and presents a large volume of legitimate research to illustrate the toxic effects of consuming excess amounts of these oils.
When consumed in large quantities, polyunsaturated oils create major problems. Here are a few of their detrimental effects:
- Cause a lowering of blood glucose by increasing insulin levels.
- Suppress cells’ ability to produce energy from glucose (sugar).
- Inhibit thyroid function on several levels, further hampering energy production in the body.
- Cause the deterioration of brain, muscles, and gonads by destroying vitamin E.
- May induce blood clotting by increasing estrogen levels.
- Inhibit enzymes in the gut leading to poor absorption of nutrients and the production of endotoxins, which overburden the liver.
- Damage the thymus and suppress the immune system, ultimately leading to chronic infections and allergic-type symptoms.
- Play a direct role in causing type II diabetes.
- Promote the conversion of glucose to lactic acid, reducing energy production.
Yep, we have another food group that’s widely regarded as a fundamental staple causing widespread, chronic deterioration in human health.
- Oils used for cooking, butter-like “spreads” and nut butters all contain large quantities of these dangerous unsaturated oils.
- Most processed foods also reveal “vegetable oil” somewhere on the label.
- Green leafy vegetables and oily fish and several types of popular nutritional supplements also contain potentially damaging oils.
If you’re not armed with education about the harmful effects of these oils, you can end up eating them with virtually every meal and snack.
The end results include the likes of fatigue, depression, weight gain, digestive problems and chronic pain.
Ultimately, the metabolic changes associated with over consuming PUFA can trigger the development of heart disease, cancer and autoimmune conditions. It’s really not a good situation.
This topic upsets me on several levels:
- First, I don’t like to see people feeling unwell unnecessarily.
- Second, folk are being told by various interest groups that PUFA consumption is good for them, when the research clearly suggests otherwise.
- Third, many of the symptoms caused by these foods are being treated by costly medications that create further symptoms and side effects.
When asked why PUFA’s are so popular despite their dangerous qualities, Dr. Peat chunters:
“It’s a whole system of promotion, advertising, and profitability. 50 years ago, paints and varnishes were made of soy oil, safflower oil, and linseed (flax seed) oil. Then chemists learned how to make paint from petroleum, which was much cheaper. As a result, the huge seed oil industry found its crop increasingly hard to sell.
Around the same time, farmers were experimenting with poisons to make their pigs get fatter with less food, and they discovered that corn and soybeans served the purpose, in a legal way. The crops that had been grown for the paint industry came to be used for animal food. Then these foods that made animals get fat cheaply came to be promoted as foods for humans, but they had to direct attention away from the fact that they are very fattening.
The “cholesterol” focus was just one of the marketing tools used by the oil industry. Unfortunately it is the one that has lasted the longest, even after the unsaturated oils were proven to cause heart disease as well as cancer. [Study at L.A. Veterans Hospital, 1971.]
Ray Peat is not the only expert crusading to expose the truth about fat and oil consumption. Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, author of several excellent books, including Know Your Fats and Nourishing Traditions states:
Modern diets can contain as much as 30 percent of calories as polyunsaturated oils, but scientific research indicates that this amount is far too high. The best evidence indicates that our intake of PUFA should not be much greater than 4 percent of the caloric total.
Consumption in this range is found in native populations in temperate and tropical regions whose intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids comes from the small amounts found in legumes, grains, nuts, green vegetables, fish, olive oil and animal fats-not from commercial vegetable oils
…Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease, immune system dysfunction, damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs, digestive disorders, depressed learning ability, impaired growth, and weight gain.
One reason the polyunsaturates cause so many health problems is that they tend to become oxidized or rancid when subjected to heat, oxygen and moisture as in cooking and processing. Rancid oils are characterized by free radicals – that is, single atoms or clusters with an unpaired electron in an outer orbit. These compounds are extremely reactive chemically. They have been characterized as “marauders” in the body for they attack cell membranes and red blood cells, causing damage in DNA/RNA strands that can trigger mutations in tissue, blood vessels and skin.
Free radical damage to the skin causes wrinkles and premature aging, free radical damage to the tissues and organs sets the stage for tumors, and free radical damage in the blood vessels initiates the buildup of (arterial) plaque. Is it any wonder that tests and studies have repeatedly shown a high correlation between cancer and heart disease with the consumption of polyunsaturated oils?
New evidence links exposure to free radicals with premature aging, with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and with Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s and cataracts.
When our clients eliminate the likes of gluten, most grains, soy and PUFA’s, they nearly always feel better.
Moreover, such improvements often happen quite quickly.
Avoiding or Minimising PUFA
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are naturally occurring, so avoiding them is impossible. There’s inherently nothing wrong with eating them in small, natural quantities within whole foods.
It’s the over consumption of these oils based on inaccurate assumptions about their “benefits” that’s the problem.
To help you navigate this issue, Hompes Method Basics teaches you how to minimize your PUFA intake.
At the same time I also teach you how to use fats and oils from other sources, such as olive oil, coconut oil and healthy animal fats, to optimize your energy production, support your hormone system and maximize your body’s innate ability to rejuvenate.
I also teach you how you can run cutting-edge laboratory testing to determine whether short-term omega-3 or omega-6 supplementation may help you, as well as tips on how to use these supplements safely so as to minimize any adverse effects from the PUFAs contained therein.