Don’t Take Any Notice

Don’t Take Any Notice

The press this week were extolling the virtues of taking vegetable oil to reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. But as is often stated, don’t believe all you read in the papers. Especially when it comes to health matters. This story had a picture of a plate of fish and chips cooked in vegetable oil and came under a headline of ‘why a plate of chips may be healthier than you think’. This was as a result of an American study which looked at the effects of dietary linoleic acid on inflammatory markers in healthy people. Not exactly a study of the benefits of taking more vegetable oils or eating chips cooked in vegetable oil.

The report looked at previous studies and found no link between vegetable oil consumption and inflammation often associated with diseases such as heart disease, asthma and arthritis. It did not say you can just go out and consume vegetable oil freely but recommended replacing animal fats for vegetable oil in cooking etc. That is another argument altogether. Vegetable oil contains linoleic acid (Omega 6) which reduces cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Personally I would not use vegetable oils. Refining and processing the oils changes the nature of the oil and as readers of this blog know I am not in favour of any processed foods or as little as possible. Vegetable oils are processed foods and may even be from GM sources such as corn, soy, canola (rapeseed) and sunflower seeds, healthy for you in seed form are also processed in producing oil, The grains or seed are cooked, treated with chemicals and acid, coloured and then flavoured to make it edible. Then you have a ‘healthy’ oil which when used for frying foods oxidises and loses any goodness it ever had if any. Margerines are a further process on from making oil, which is hydrogenated to turn the oil into a solid.

The oils oxidise easily especially when cooked at high temperature which causes inflammation and other health issues. So though we need a certain amount of omega 6 (linoleic acid) we won’t get it from eating more chips. There is also the issue of balance. As with all nutrition we need to balance different nutrients with each other and oils are no different. We need a certain amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils in a ratio of 1 to 1 up to 1 to 2 proportion. We already get too much Omega 6 from processed/cooked and junk foods all using vegetable oils.

So we don’t need more vegetable oil and we are often told to take more Omega 3 or eat oily fish to bring the ratio of omega 3 and 6 back in balance. Better still eat less processed foods and use less vegetable oil. Eat oily fish, nuts and seeds in your diet and if so inclined eggs and butter which contain linoleic acid. Obviously there is more science and technical details out there if you want to research more but this brief blog is really pointing out the way accepting headlines at face value is not always a good idea. Think about where the food comes from and how it is made or processed, even better stick to fresh food.