If you’re someone who eats at restaurants frequently, you may be rolling the dice on your life. No, the risk from dining out isn’t caused by a quick, painful death from e. Coli or salmonella poisonings. The threat to your life posed by eating out can be more gradual. So what’s lurking in your food at most dining establishments?
Well, if you’re eating fast food, it’s definitely the food itself. But even if you’re eating a seemingly healthy meal, say, a veggie stir fry with heaps of broccoli and a modest serving of brown rice, there’s a very high chance that an artery-clogging highly-inflammatory ingredient can contribute to a heart disease.
So what’s the culprit?
The two most common cooking oils in U.S. restaurants are soybean and canola. Available in bulk vegetable oils such as soybean and canola oil are the most affordable oils for restaurants to purchase.
What’s the harm in vegetable oil? Despite its seemingly healthy name, vegetable oils easily spoil. And here are the reasons why…
All Vegetable Oil Spoils
First, vegetable oils aren’t very stable in molecular structure when heat is applied to them. When you cook a stir fry with vegetable oil, the heat will quickly denature the oil. The changes in molecular structure cause oxidation to occur. Consuming foods that have been oxidized promotes inflammation in the body. So if you eat out a lot or use vegetable- and seed-oil at home, you are consuming lots of pro-inflammatory foods.
Most vegetable oils go bad even before they are used in cooking. The high-heat of shipping containers and cargo trucks can spoil the oils.
Next time you’re in the supermarket, take a look at some vegetable oils like Crisco. What kind of bottles are they stored in? Chances are that they come in clear, translucent bottles, which doesn’t prevent light from entering. Along with heat, light is a major contributor to oil rancidity.
Furthermore, during the processing of canola oil, the removal of a harmful compound creates a small amount of trans fats. Trans fats are hydrogenated compounds that are extremely harmful for health, raising so-called “bad” cholesterol (LDL-C) and lowering “good” cholesterol, which raises the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the leading cause of death among adults.
A serving of canola oil contains 0.5 grams of trans fats. But because of a loophole in food labeling laws, 0.5 grams can be listed as 0 grams. Trans fats isn’t a nutrient that should be minimized; it should be avoided altogether!
Too Many Omega-6s, Not Enough 3’s
One reason why vegetable and seed oils cause so much inflammation is because they are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are polyunsaturated fats. In moderation, they can be part of a healthy diet, especially from all-natural foods.
However, processed foods, nearly all of which contain vegetable and seed oils, are very high in Omega-6s. The average American consumes 20 times more Omega-6s than the more heart-healthy Omega-3s. This imbalance is a big reason why CVD is so prevalent.
Vegetable oils and seed oils are regarded by many people as healthy alternatives to butter and other oils with higher saturated fat content.
But it’s precisely the absence of saturated fat that causes vegetable and seed oils to go bad once they’re exposed to the flame of the grill. Saturated fat keeps an oil chemically stable. Although saturated fat is often blamed for heart disease, recent research has debunked this association. The high consumption of processed food and carbohydrates is arguably more responsible for heart disease than saturated fat. This is especially true if the saturated fat comes from grass-fed meat or pasture-raised chickens. (Grain-fed cattle are much lower in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grass-fed beef.)
Healthier Alternatives To Vegetable Oil
Do you give second thought about what kind of cooking oil is used when you eat at a restaurant? If not, because of the reasons above, you should.
When it comes to cooking at home, perhaps the healthiest oil to cook with is avocado oil. Although it does have a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (13:1), the amount of Omega-6 is small to begin with. Plus, the other benefits of avocado oil outweigh the Omega fatty acid ratio.
Avocado, like olive oil, is technically a fruit oil. In essence, both avocado and olive oils are the juices of the fruit; healthy fruit juice, if you will. When it comes to cooking, avocado is better than olive oil because it has a higher smoke point. You can use olive oil to lightly saute.
Grass-fed butter, because it contains some saturated fat, is also better to cook with than vegetable and seed oils. (If you’re still in doubt that saturated fat isn’t the nutrition villain you thought it was, read this article on Time.com.)
Every year, approximately 650,000 Americans die from heart disease. That’s one out of every 4 deaths. Considering how prevalent vegetable and seed oils are, they should be considered a major health threat.
In light of this, prepare healthy meals at home, and when you do dine at restaurants, request that your meal is cooked in butter. To reduce your calorie intake and that of saturated fat, ditch the bread and butter before your meal is served.