Vegetable oil has long been thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol. When patients get diagnosed with these two conditions, diet changes are always the first recommendation.
Moving away from cooking with animal fats and butter to cooking with olive, corn, and vegetable oils have long been touted as a healthy lifestyle choice. New studies and reassessing the older data show that this may not be true, after all.
While the health benefits of olive oil continue to be proven in study after study, those of vegetable oil have largely been disproven. New results show that it isn’t as healthy as it was thought to be. Keep reading to find out why you should avoid vegetable oil.
Why Was Vegetable Oil Held in High Regard?
Vegetable and other seed oils had been held in high regard based on scientific research highlighting their benefits. Vegetable and other seed oils were viewed as good for the heart because they contain polyunsaturated fats. They are also known as Omega-6 fats and are deemed “good fats.”
Saturated fats, on the other hand, are known as the “bad fats.” They are found in animal byproducts like meat, cheese, and dairy. To improve your heart health and lower cholesterol, doctors strongly suggest avoiding or limiting the consumption of these foods. Since they are not animal byproducts and don’t contain saturated fats, scientists and doctors considered vegetable and seed oils safe and healthy.
Types of Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil and other seed oils are part of the same food group. They are man-made and come from plant sources. Other oils that fall under this category include:
- Sunflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil (aka rapeseed oil)
- Safflower oil
- Corn oil
- Peanut oil
While some also include olive oil and coconut oil in this group, they do differ from the listed oils. Both of can be procured by directly pressing olives and coconuts. The process doesn’t require any additional industrial processing or chemicals.
What Changed the Minds of the Medical Community?
The medical community began to rethink vegetable oil after a team of researchers took data from previous studies and reexamined it. Researchers found that there were several crucial finding that the original researchers held back. As it turned out, the connections between vegetable oil and heart health weren’t so accurate.
The review showed that vegetable oil most certainly is useful in lowering cholesterol. However, the claim that it also lowers the risk of heart disease proved to be on a shaky ground. What the reviewers found when they re-examined the results was that vegetable oil could actually increase your risk of heart disease.
Participants in the original study had cut back on cooking with animal fat and replaced it with vegetable and seed oils. Participants who switched to oil showed a decrease in cholesterol. However, they also had a 22% increase in death rates.
Those who did not make the switch to primarily vegetable and seed oils did not see the same decrease in their health metrics. However, they actually lived longer than those that did.
Benefits of Decreasing Your Intake of Vegetable Oil
You shouldn’t ditch vegetable oil completely. It’s just that there is too much of it in the average diet. The quantity in an average person’s diet has steadily increased since the 1960s.
However, the new suggests that it could actually be beneficial for your health to reduce the intake of vegetable oil. Let’s look at the health benefits and other reasons why you should avoid vegetable oil.
- Vegetable oils contain a high level of Omega-6 acids. While Omega-3s are well-known for being super-healthy fatty acids with cancer-preventing properties, Omega-6’s are the complete opposite. They have actually been linked to a higher risk of cancer. Most prominently, Omega-6 fatty acids have been linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer in men.
- Since vegetable and other seed oils are man-made, they are extracted through an industrial process that also uses unhealthy chemicals. The list of bad chemicals includes BHA, which is a well-known carcinogen.
- Vegetable oils oxidize quickly, which makes them extremely volatile. This makes them somewhat risky to use in the kitchen, as they can heat up and spark rapidly.
- What some vegetable oil manufacturers do not tell consumers is that the oils they produce may be high in trans fats. Trans fats are incredibly harmful to human health as they can slow down the blood flow and encourage plaque growth in the arteries.
What Oils Should I Use Instead of Vegetable Oil?
There are several healthy alternatives available on the market that you can switch to right now. Most of these are either plant-based oils produced without the use of chemicals or animal-based fats. Some oils and fats are suggested for selected cooking styles.
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Applesauce (for baking only)
- Mashed fruit (for baking only)
- Tallow/beef fat
- Avocado oil
- Palm oil
- Pork fat (bacon or lard)
- Duck, goose or chicken fat
All of these options are great substitutes for vegetable and other seed oils. While some of them may be higher in other fat content than vegetable oils, this is offset by the health benefits you get from eliminating the unhealthy chemicals present in vegetable oils.
So, why should you avoid vegetable oil? As you can see, there are many reasons to remove vegetable oils and their variants from your kitchen. While once thought to have a plethora of health benefits, recent research has found that it is not the case. For improved heart health, avoid vegetable and other seed oils and replace them with animal-based fats.
Vegetable oils that are processed without chemicals are still considered healthy. Olive oil and coconut oil are considered the best options among plant-based oils. For some types of cooking, animal fats such as lard, butter, or ghee are recommended. While animal fat is higher in cholesterol, that is offset by the amount of unhealthy chemicals one ingests when consuming vegetable and seed oils.