But I did want to revisit a topic I haven't mentioned in a while.
As you probably know by now, the food you eat is the greatest determining factor in whether or not you are healthy and well. But many people don't really understand which foods are healthy, and which are not.
There is a lot of misinformation out there, and it can be difficult to tell the truth from the hype sometimes, especially when the hype surrounds us every day through advertising no matter where we are.
Although many people strive to do their best and eat healthy, the confusion surrounding this topic can get in the way. While you may look at labels and read ingredient lists, you may not realize that something that sounds natural and good (such as canola oil) is actually not something you should be eating.
Here are 4 common cooking oils that you should never cook with. You should also try to avoid buying foods that contain these.
Canola oil actually comes from the rape plant (the oil was renamed by the industry to sound better). Even animals and insects avoid this plant due to the toxic compounds it contains! While some Asian and Indian cultures have traditionally consumed rapeseed oil, it was always in much smaller quantities than we use it here in America, nor has it been processed to the degree that we do. During the refining process, rapeseed oil is deodorized and bleached through a series of high-heat processes, which destroys the Omega-3 fatty acids contained in the oil.
There is basically nothing good about this oil, and a lot of bad that can come from consuming it. If you see rapeseed (or more likely, canola) oil on the label, just put it back on the shelf!
2. Cottonseed Oil - Cotton is a textile crop - not a food crop. Therefore, it is treated as an industrial product, and not subject to regulations for edible crops. Virtually anything can be, and is, sprayed on cotton plants to ward off insects and induce growth. Do you really want to eat something like that?
Not only that, but cottonseed oil is very high in Omega-6 fatty acids, and may cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to peanuts (though products containing it are not required to display a warning label).
However, unfortunately, thousands of processed foods now contain cottonseed oil - even ones you would not expect, such as beverages like Gatorade. It is also found in canned goods, chips, cookies, and many more pre-packaged foods. Avoid any foods containing cottonseed oil as if they were toxic - because they are.
4. Soybean Oil - Soy is good for you, right? After all, we've all heard that Asians eat soy all the time, and they are healthier and live longer than people in many other parts of the world.
But what you probably don't know is that most of the Asian countries that consume soy consume it in fermented forms, and they mostly use it as a flavoring or condiment - not as a central food source.
Most of the (large quantities) of soy we consume in America is genetically modified, heavily processed, and unfermented. Processed and unfermented soy has been linked to a number of serious health conditions including thyroid damage and hormone disruption.
80% of the oil we consume in America today is soybean oil. It is found in just about every processed food product out there - from baby food to cereals and snack bars, to fried foods, condiments, and even ice cream. Avoid soybean oil, and its potentially harmful effects.
3. Safflower Oil - You may think that safflower oil is a healthy replacement for animal fats and other oils high in saturated fat. After all, saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, right?
This theory has been disproven for decades, and yet the public health perception lags behind, despite a fair amount of media attention over the past few years "revealing" the surprising fact that in fact, cholesterol is a marker for heart disease, and not a cause.
While some studies have shown that substituting vegetable oils such as safflower for animal fats lowered blood cholesterol levels, what they did not mention was the importance of maintaining a healthy Omega-3/Omega-6 balance. In fact, many doctors and scientists now believe that it is over-consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids (and lack of Omega-3s) that causes cardiovascular disease.
More recent studies have shown that while consuming these Omega-6-heavy vegetable oils does lower cholesterol, it actually increases your chances of heart disease!
Safflower oil is a major source of Omega-6 fatty acids. So if you just want lower cholesterol, go with safflower oil. But if you want to lower your risk of dying from heart disease, avoid it at all costs!
So now that you know which oils you shouldn't be eating, what's left? Which oils are actually safe to cook with?
First of all, cooking with many oils actually destroys any healthful properties they may contain. Extra virgin olive oil is high in Omega-3s, but these are destroyed during high-heat cooking. The same is true for sesame oil, wheat germ oil, and many other healthy oils.
If you're going to cook with oil, I say your best bet is coconut oil. Coconut oil can withstand higher heats than many other oils, and it has some truly healthy properties. (Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil here.) Animal fats including butter (if they are from healthy, grass-fed, organically raised animals) are also fine for cooking with.
For salad dressings, marinades, or sauces, extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil are great choices.
To your health,
P.S. As I will be in Minnesota next week, I will not be posting a blog, but keep an eye on your email, as I will be sending you a special free gift! Not a subscriber yet? Fill out the quick form to the right to make sure you don't miss out!