I would rather smoke a cigarette than eat vegetable oil.
Let’s say you’re building a house. You want your house to be strong and sturdy, made of a high-quality material like brick. Your contractor comes to you and says,
Well, look. I know you wanted bricks, but they aren’t going to come. We did, however, receive these styrofoam balls. And since we’ve got to keep this project moving forward, we’re just going to give it a shot with these and see what happens.
You would be mortified.
“You’re going to build my house out of styrofoam balls? What happened to the bricks??”
You might see where this metaphor is going.
The house is your body. You want your body to be build out of sturdy, good fats just like a house built out of bricks.
If you eat vegetable oil instead, you’re feeding your body styrofoam balls. Your body has to build itself out of something as new materials are required for functioning, and if “styrofoam balls” are all it has to work with, then it’s going to try to use those vegetable oil fats instead to do the work.
Vegetable Oil Is a “Styrofoam Ball”
You might be wondering a couple of things at this point:
“Isn’t fat bad for you?”
“Why are vegetables oils not good building material for the body? They’re supposed to be the healthy option.”
Isn’t it creepy how I can read your mind? Well, let’s get down to it.
#1: No, fat is not bad for you. Fat is necessary. Keep reading.
#2: It’s a long story. Keep reading…
Why You Need Fat
I get it. Low fat has been the cry of the health world for years now. Every type of dairy product you can think of has a low fat version. You were probably told to drink skim milk as a kid, and now as an adult still chose low fat yogurt and cheese for your lunchbox.
The problem is, the science doesn’t stand behind low fat.
Your body is made of fat. It uses fat for almost every function. Your brain is made of 50% fat by dry weight, your cell membranes are fat, the transport rafts for materials in your cells are made of fat.
Without fat, you would die.
So when you give your body crappy fats and it still has to build a brain, your brain gets built out of those crappy fats. And then you have a crappy brain.
You’ve probably heard of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Omega-3s are fluid fats that are used with flexibility is needed. Omega-6s are more rigid. The brain is about half and half. Other parts of the body are 4:1 or 11:1 of omega-6 to omega-3.
So we need fat. And we need slightly more omega-6 fats than omega-3s in some parts of the body. But what’s this got to do with vegetable oils?
What Are Vegetable Oils?
Vegetable oils include canola (rapeseed) oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil.
This is not an exhaustive list, but they are some of the more popular vegetable oils used (including, of course, the bottle that just says “vegetable oil” which is a blend of multiple types).
Vegetable oils are primarily made of Omega-6 fats. Most people who consume a Western diet eat a ratio of approximately 16:1 omega-6 to omega-3 every day! Some report higher values up to 40:1 as the omega ratio for some Westerners. Remember, you need between 1:1 and 4:1 in a healthy diet.
Let me go ahead and mention that the fix isn’t to eat more omega-3s in the form of fish oil supplements, but you have to actually lower your omega-6 intake. And the omega-6s should be coming from healthy fat sources, not these vegetable oils.
Now, I realize I still haven’t explained why the vegetable oils are a bad choice if you want to promote overall health, just that they are high in omega-6 fats.
The Problem With Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils are unhealthy because they:
- Are chemically unstable, synthetically derived industrial “food” products.
- Cause free radical production in the body.
- Are prone to damage, inflammation, and oxidation.
- Attack the brain.
- Disrupt the gut.
- Cause heartburn.
Pretty nasty, right?
A buildup of these unstable, harmful materials in the body starts to wreck havoc faster than you might think.
I won’t get into every detail of the biology. If you want an excellent book, I highly recommend Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shannahan. She absolutely nails all the gory details when it comes to vegetables oils in Chapter 8 of her book.
132 Days Of Dysfunction
What I want to pull out here to drive the point home is what Dr. Dan Pompa calls 132 Days of Dysfunction.
When you eat vegetable oil, it gets built into your membranes. Your body uses it to build your cells. Your cells go into a state of dysfunction and it takes about 4.5 months (or 132 days) to recover. Not to replace or heal. Just to start functioning properly. You have 132 days of damage after any exposure to vegetable oil.
This means that if you “splurge” twice a year on bad oils, your cells are almost always in dysfunction!
Let me say that again so you hear me: If you eat one serving of vegetable oils one time, your cells are “broken” for 4.5 months.
It gets worse in the frier. What? It gets worse?
Worse Than Cigarettes
Remember when I said I would rather smoke a cigarette than eat vegetable oils? Let me tell you what happens when you eat one serving of deep fried vegetable oil.
When you smoke a cigarette, your cell’s endothelial function is impaired for up to 4 hours. When you eat a pack of french fries, your cell’s endothelial function is impaired for up to 24 hours.
24 HOURS. That is 6x worse than the impact a cigarette has on your body.
What’s more, a cigarette only affects your lungs and arteries, but your body doesn’t build itself out of anything from the cigarette. It processes the smoke, tar, and other chemicals as best it can and dispels them as toxins. Anything left can certainly cause problems, but it doesn’t get turned into your cell walls.
In contrast, after you eat the fries and they get done destroying your cell function, the damaged fats get built into your body. The oxidative stress and free radical production continues from there.
More specifically, the vegetable oils get broken down into 2 compounds: 4-hydroxynonenal and 4-hydroxyhexanal. These hard-to-pronounce compounds are genotoxins which mutate and damage your genes. That also means the damage gets passed to your children.
3 Pathways Of Illness
What we’re seeing here are 3 primary pathways that vegetable oils damage your health and make you sick:
- Free radical production in the body
- 24 hours of impaired endothelial cell function
- Gene mutation and damage
And on top of that, the damage from eating vegetable oils get passed to your children.
The Real Repercussions on Healing
Vegetable oils have very serious consequences. They affect every single aspect of your body and health. You should never consume them. And yet, our consumption of them (even among healthy people) is sky high.
The average health-conscious consumer gets 15-30% of their daily calories from vegetable oil. Everybody else is getting 30-60%!
How do we bounce back from this and heal?
It takes about 900 days to replace 75% of your cell membranes (which are made of fat). That means that if you stopped eating unhealthy oils and started loading up on good fats today, in 900 days you would have replaced 75% of the bad fats in your cells with good fats.
Healing and replacing damaged fats in your body takes time. Start today because in 3 years, your future self will thank you. Plus, you’ll start feeling better much faster than that!
Avoiding vegetable oils requires being extremely cautious because they’re used everywhere. It’s even in organic foods. Don’t be fooled. Organic canola oil still counts as a vegetable oil. All that means is that it hasn’t also been sprayed with pesticides. Organic vegetable oils are still comprised of omega-6 fats that are prone to damage and causing all the problems we’ve talked about. Likewise, organic safflower oil in organic chips has still been fried and damaged. Don’t eat it.
This stuff is scary, deadly, and will impact your health and your family’s health.
Did you know canola oil wasn’t even approved for use in the US until 1985? Strange that such a healthy oil needed approval. Or that nobody in human history was eating it until just a few decades ago.
Think about it this way. Since when did olive oil have to get approved? Never! Because it’s real food. They even have olive oil tastings because of the care that goes into pressing fine, tasty olive oil of different types. Nobody’s ever hosted a canola tasting!
I also feel like it’s really important to mention that when you go to a restaurant and order a salad with oil and vinegar dressing (you know like when it comes in the two little bowls on the side), most of the time, the olive oil is actually a blend of 25% or more of canola oil. To save money, they cut the olive oil with the cheaper vegetable oils, and the servers may not even know! If ask them to check and tell them you have an allergy to canola oil, most of the time they will come back and tell you that you can’t eat the olive oil.
Upgrade Your Vegetable Oil
So if vegetable oil is off the menu, what are your other options?
These are some staples in my kitchen:
- Grass-fed butter
- Grass-fed ghee
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- MCT oil
- Olive oil
Each of these oils and fats can play a healthy role in your nutritional choices. Keep in mind, though, that they can’t necessarily be used interchangeably in the kitchen. Certain healthy fats still don’t do well with heat exposure.
You can use the smoke point of the oil or fat to gauge how best to use it. Fats with higher smoke points are more stable at higher heats. Avocado oil has a smoke point of around 450F, which makes it ideal for cooking. However, olive oil has a much lower smoke point and is better used as a salad dressing or finishing oil.
Remember that choosing these good fats over vegetable oils and fried food is one of the biggest things you can do for you health. It’s also one of the most overlooked changes people can make. Do your homework on the food in your kitchen and shop safely. If a vegetable oil is on the ingredients list, don’t buy it.