Is Vegetable Oil a Problem for your Diet?

One of the most common fats on the market is vegetable oil in its various forms. A simple stroll down the appropriate aisle at the grocery store will open your eyes to the wide variety that is available in its raw form. Vegetable oil is also a quite common ingredient in many foods. It can be found in a wide number of salad dressings and packaged foods. In fact, you might be consuming more vegetable oil then you think. If it’s so common, then can consuming vegetable oil inhibit your weight loss goals? 

Understanding Fats

You find 6 indigestible fats in food sources. These include:

  • Monosaturated fats: good fat sources from olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados
  • Polyunsaturated fats: good vegetable oil fats that come from corn, safflower, cottonseed, soy, in addition to nuts and seeds
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: a good source of fat found in fish, nuts, flax, and other sources
  • Saturated fat: bad fat found in meat, dairy, and tropical plant oils like coconut and palm
  • Trans fat: an ingredient commonly found in commercially packaged foods, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils including margarine and fried foods

When Good Oil Goes Bad

In our list we see that vegetable oils that are polyunsaturated are actually good for us, yet when listed as trans fats they are detrimental to our health. What happens to vegetable oil that makes it turn on us? To understand this, you need to look at the science involved in the processing of oils.

Nearly 100 years ago, scientists turned to inexpensive forms of vegetable oils as a means to extend the shelf life of products. With a little experimentation, they soon realized that by adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fatty acids in vegetable oils, it enabled the product to remain solid at room temperature. This was the birth of Crisco, and a little manipulation of the carbon atoms chains that created trans fatty acids.

For years, people consumed trans fatty acids in thousands of food products without knowing the harmful effects. In 1990, this cost-busting mutant vegetable oil took a wrong turn and scientist became aware of the health risks it carried. Trans fats are known to raise your LDL cholesterol levels while lowering your HDL levels (you want the process to work the other way). Studies have also linked trans fats to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. All health risks aside, there is no benefit to eating trans fats, and we all eat to nourish our bodies.

Vegetable Oil

Stick to fat sources that are monosaturated or polyunsaturated when cooking. Vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil, and cottonseed oil are healthy in small amounts. Steer clear of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by avoiding processed foods, especially baked goods.

When cooking with healthy oils, it is best to coat the food in the oil and then place it in the pan rather than preheating the oil. This preserves the nutrients and avoids the breakdown of fats.

 

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