Written By: Kristi Caruana
In today's health-conscious society, it's essential to be critical of the ingredients we consume. Seed oils, often marketed as 'heart healthy options', have gained popularity since their introduction into the US food supply during the early 1900's. Initially, seed oils were primarily used for industrial purposes, such as machine lubricants and fuel. However, as industrialization progressed and we integrated those practices into our food supply, the food industry quickly realized the profitability of using these cheap oils in place of animal fats. The widespread use of seed oils in the American food supply accelerated in the 1960's and 1970's when concerns about saturated fats, cholesterol, and heart disease reached their peak. Seed oil manufacturer's seized the opportunity to promote their product as a healthier option solely due to their low saturated fat content, but what they didn't disclose to the public in their marketing campaign is the imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids which contribute to inflammation and various chronic health issues, including heart disease. This perception was further reinforced by dietary guidelines and recommendations emphasizing the reduction of saturated fat intake. This era marked a shift toward low-fat diets, with seed oils replacing traditional fats in many processed foods. The perception that seed oils were healthier options became deeply engrained in the minds of consumers, leading to their widespread acceptance and consumption.
The studies which laid the foundation for the popularity of seed oils are ridden with industry conflicts of interest and flawed logic. Essentially, early scientists ran their studies with the hypothesis that the fats which remain solid at room temperature are the reason behind clogged arteries, heart attacks, and increased risk of stroke. Growing research continues to show that the health implications of consuming seed oils regularly and consistently doesn't align with their initial portrayal for heart health. Modern research only continues to challenge the conclusions from these early studies, showing that unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats may not reduce the risk of heart disease at all. In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons why consumers need to re-evaluate their use of seed oils entirely. Far from being the healthy choice they're advertised as, these oils pose a risk to our health and well-being. As a society, we've collectively been led to believe that minimally processed animal fats are more detrimental to our health, while genetically modified, chemically extracted, oxidized, and highly unstable seed oils are presented as healthier alternatives. Let's unravel the truth and explore the implications of misleading marketing tactics employed by the oil industry:
Heart Healthy or Hoax? HOAX.
Heavy Processing: Seed oils, such as canola, soybean, sunflower, corn, safflower, and rice bran undergo extensive processing that involved chemical extraction, and often high heat. These processes lead to the production of harmful byproducts and the oxidation of the oil, which creates free radical compounds and triggers inflammation throughout the body.
Imbalance of Omega-6 Fats: Seed oils are predominantly high in omega-6 fats, while being low in omega-3 fats. In order to actually be heart healthy, omega-6 fats must ALWAYS be consumed in proper ratio to omega-3 fats. While omega-6 fats are essential in moderation, an excessive imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids contributes to chronic inflammation and health issues, including heart problems and disease.
Genetic Modification: Most seed oils, unless purchased explicitly organic, are derived from GMO crops. Genetically modified plants are specifically and intentionally engineered to be herbicide-resistant, meaning that they don't atrophy and die when sprayed directly with these heavy chemicals. Contrary to popular belief, GMO's are engineered to withstand high amount of consistent chemical applications, not to require less of them. These chemicals not only integrate into the physical plant compounds throughout the growth cycle, but they also leave harmful resides which are often ingested by consumers.
Misleading Marketing: The term "heart healthy" is often used in marketing seed oils in order to create the perception that they're beneficial for heart health. Make no mistake about it, the public perception of seed oils being "heart healthy" is nothing more than the result of a deep-rooted marketing scheme.
Corrupt Industry Influence: The food and oil industries have a significant influence on public perception through marketing campaigns, lobbying, and the funding of research studies. This has inevitably led to biased information and the subsequent promotion of products that aren't truly beneficial to our health.
Nutrient Deficiencies: Seed oils are low in essential fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K. By replacing animal fats with refined seed oils, consumers miss out on these vital nutrients which play a crucial role in overall health and well-being.
Traditional Fats and Health: Minimally processed animal fats such as ghee, tallow, and butter have been consumed for centuries without the rise in chronic diseases that we've witnessed in recent decades. These fats are more stable, more nutrient-dense, contain a healthier balance of fatty acids, and offer their own unique potential health benefits (when sourced properly).
Swaps for Seed Oils:
Instead of relying heavily on seed oils, opt for minimally processed options: