The consumption of vegetable oils has increased dramatically in the past century.
Most mainstream health professionals consider them healthy, but vegetable oils may cause health problems.
Their health effects vary depending on what fatty acids they contain, what plants they are extracted from, and how they are processed.
Could vegetable oils be unhealthy? We'll consider this together. What are they and how are they made?
Edible oils extracted from plants are commonly known as vegetable oils.
In addition to their use in cooking and baking, they’re found in processed foods, including salad dressings, margarine, mayonnaise, and cookies.
Common vegetable oils include soybean oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Refined vegetable oils were not available until the 20th century, when the technology to extract them became available.
These oils are extracted from plants using either a chemical solvent or oil mill. Then they are often purified, refined, and sometimes chemically altered.
Health-conscious consumers prefer oils that are made by crushing or pressing plants or seeds, rather than those produced using chemicals.
Edible vegetable oils are often extracted with chemical solvents or by crushing or pressing the plants or their seeds.
Consumption has had a dramatic increase
In the past century, the consumption of vegetable oils has increased at the expense of other fats like butter.
They are often labeled “heart-healthy” and recommended as an alternative to sources of saturated fat, such as butter, lard, and tallow.
The reason vegetable oils are considered heart-healthy is that studies consistently link polyunsaturated fat to a reduced risk of heart problems, compared with saturated fat.
Despite their potential health benefits, some
Scientists question how much of these oils are consumed.
These concerns mostly apply to oils that contain a lot of omega-6 fats.
The consumption of vegetable oils increased in the last century. While some vegetable oils have been linked to health benefits, there are concerns about the excessive intake of omega-6.
It may be advisable to reduce or avoid avoid vegetable oils high in omega-6.
Actually, in the grand scheme of things, none of these oils are really “bad.” Some are better than others. It’s important to know coconut oil and olive oil are both excellent choices.
Avoid or reduce use of the following plant oils due to their high omega-6 contents:
- soybean oil
- corn oil
- cottonseed oil
- sunflower oil
- peanut oil
- sesame oil
- rice bran oil
Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning that you need some of them in your diet because your body can’t produce them.
Throughout history humans got omega-3 and omega-6 in a certain ratio. While this ratio differed between populations, it’s estimated to have been about 1:1.
However, in the past century or so, this ratio in the Western diet has shifted dramatically and may be as high as 20:1. Consequently, there are health related questions.
Scientists have hypothesized that too much omega-6 relative to omega-3 may contribute to chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is an underlying factor in some of the most common Western diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis, and may related to our vision becoming weaker as we age.
Observational Studies have also associated a high intake of omega-6 fat to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
However, these associations don’t necessarily imply a causal relationship.
Studies investigating the effects of omega-6 fat consumption generally do not support the idea that these fats increase inflammation .
For instance, eating a lot of linoleic acid, which is the most common omega-6 fat, doesn’t appear to affect blood levels of inflammatory markers.
Scientists do not fully understand what effects omega-6 fats have on the body, and continue to study this issue.
However, if you are concerned, avoid oils or margarine that contain oils high in omega-6 fats. Olive oil is a good example of a healthy cooking oil that’s low in omega-6.
Some vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Scientists have hypothesized that eating too much omega-6 can lead to increased inflammation and cause more rapid aging and potentially contribute to disease.