Quick cooking quiz:
Which is healthier for you to cook with...
Pure lard or …................................. Crisco?
High-fat coconut oil or …................. vegetable oil?
High-fat palm oil or …..................... cottonseed oil?
Butter or ….................................... Canola oil?
If you selected any answers on the right side, you may be surprised to read that when it comes to healthy cooking, all the answers on the left are the healthier options.
Ask your doctor or a registered dietician which of the above cooking options are healthier and they may tell you the exact opposite, that the options on the right side are healthier.
The reason that some influential health organizations like the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, Food and Drug Administration and other institutions and prominent medical figures think that vegetable oil is healthier is because they contain very little saturated fat, if any at all.
But cooking with oils that have several grams of saturated fat, or in the case of olive oil, monounsaturated fat, is far healthier.
Most vegetable oils were created only ‘yesterday’
The birth of the food science industry roughly a century ago, which has created tens of thousands of synthetic flavors and preservatives, not to mention pesticides and herbicides (in general, stuff that’s not good for you), combined with flawed studies 60 years ago linking high-fat diets to heart disease, has resulted in the creation of modern vegetable cooking oils.
Unlike olive oil, coconut oil (coconut is technically a fruit but is used ubiquitously in Asian cultures for cooking), butter, and lard, which have all been used for hundreds if not thousands of years, modern vegetable oils like Canola oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and corn oil have been invented a relative blink of an eye ago.
In a misguided attempt to make the American public healthier, doctors and other health professionals encouraged the consumption of vegetable oils to replace oils and butters with saturated fat. Thus a booming cottage industry now worth multi billions of dollars was born. Shrewd marketing tactics by the vegetable oil companies aside, even if the intentions of the mainstream medical establishment were altruistic, health officials failed to take into account fundamental lessons in chemistry?
What did they not realize?
Absent of fat, especially saturated fat, when exposed to heat, a vegetable oil will undergo significant molecular changes and become critically damaged on the cellular level. When you see a stir-fry dish smoking heavily, you’re witnessing harmful oxidation in action. Virtually everything changes when exposed to heat but saturated fat has a much higher smoke point than non-saturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, in which modern vegetable oils often tend to be high.
Vegetable oils will quickly oxidize when heated. They also can oxidize when left out in room temperature. (That’s why apples quickly turn brown; they have no fat to slow down oxidation.) Even when refrigerated, some vegetable oils, like flax oil, can oxidize. Conduct a simple experiment at home: pour some olive oil on the bit-into-apple and you’ll notice it doesn’t turn brown nearly as quickly.
Olive oil is one of the rare exceptions to the vegetable oil rules of chemistry. It has a higher smoke point than other vegetable oils (though you don’t want to cook it at higher than medium heat). It’s molecular structure is more protected because it contains a couple grams of saturated fat to prevent quick, radical molecular damage.
Avoid any food product that contain hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. When you read this term, equate it with “Something that will harden my arteries, choking off the flow of fresh blood and possibly cause a heart attack,” or, for brevity’s sake, equate it as “poison.” Food manufacturers add hydrogen to oils to prolong shelf life. The problem with adding hydrogen is that it causes radical changes to the cell structure of an oil.
Speaking of radical damage, vegetable oils cause radical damage in your body: inflammation
Consuming rancid and cooked vegetable oils can create widespread inflammation in the body. Especially troubling is the havoc that oxidized oils can wreak on the arteries. Many mainstream medical professionals still blame saturated fat on heart disease.
While it may be true that saturated fat consumption can cause heart disease, it’s primarily oxidized (read: damaged) saturated fat that causes inflammation of the arterial walls.
Blackened and well-done meats as well as large scale factory-farmed beef and pork are examples of oxidized, rancid fat. Egg yolks cooked too long is another common example. But natural saturated fat like unprocessed lard or butter do not easily oxidize, and therefore, do not promote inflammation.
If I eat lots of vegetables should I worry about cooking with vegetable oil?
Even if you eat several servings of vegetables a day, but cook with vegetable oil, the nutrients from the veggies will be used to fight the free radical damage in your cells caused by the vegetable oil. Bombard your arteries with rancid, oxidized vegetable oil frequently and you might end up losing the fight--heart disease or the many other complications that can arise from chronic inflammation could manifest.
Those that are trying to improve their diabetes would be wise to avoid adding fuel to the fire, by further inflaming an already inflamed system. So avoid nearly all vegetable oils, with the exception of olive, avocado (technically a fruit), and unrefined (non-hydrogenated) palm oil. Cooking with coconut oil is also a much healthier option. So is a dab or two of butter (avoid margarine at all costs).
To make a healthy noodle dish, replace high-carb pasta with Miracle Noodle and sautee some vegetables in coconut or olive oil. Add a lean serving of protein to complete the perfect lunch or dinner. If you’re into cooking Indian dishes, a healthy thing to cook with is ghee butter (also called clarified butter), which is the butter fat without the milk proteins, perfect for those who are lactose-intolerant. Add ghee to your favorite Miracle Rice dish.
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