As vegetable oils contain the word “vegetable” in it, a large number of people think that vegetable oils are good for health. And indeed, as vegetables are good for your health, you think that vegetable oils must be good too.
As stated by the mainstream nutrition organization that we eat vegetable oils because it has unsaturated fats in them which are much more healthier than saturated fats. But, many studies have shown that these oils can be hazardous to health (1).
Vegetable oils can lead to many physiological changes within our body and can cause a number of diseases as the composition of fatty acids in them is different than anything we were ever exposed to throughout the evolution of mankind.
Listed below are the 6 harms that vegetable oils can cause.
They are unnatural and unhealthy in large amounts
Oils like soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil and a few others are usually referred to as “vegetable oils” even though they don’t belong to the vegetable family. These oils contain Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in large amounts which are extremely harmful when consumed.
Plant oils like olive oil and coconut oil are good for us and should be included in our day to day life to get rid of various health problems and also problems related to skin.
We have been developing since a long time but we haven’t yet started producing vegetable oils until about a hundred years ago and so, the industrial food processing is absolutely something new.
In the middle of 1909 and 1999, the consumption of soybean oil increased thousand times and at present supplies about 7 % of calories in the U.S diet (2).
The method used in processing canola oil involves pressing, heating, various industrial chemicals and highly toxic substances which may lead to various health problems if such processed oil is consumed.
The Fatty Acid Composition of the Body’s Cells gets messed up
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are the two essential fatty acids which a human body cannot produce and have to be obtained from the diet. Not only does a human body need these fatty acids to function, but also they deliver some big health benefits. So, a human body should get these fatty acids but in a balanced proportion. While humans were evolving, our Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio supposed to be 4:1 to 1:2. But today, the ratio is not as less as 16:1 on average, with a great variation between individuals (3).
Not only these fatty acids are inert structural molecules or fuel for the cell’s mitochondria but also help to improve the vital functions related to the processes which are known to affect the various systems like the immune system (4).
When Omega-6s and Omega-3s in the cells are imbalanced, it may terribly start affecting our body. Relative unsaturation of these fatty acids is another major problem.
Polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds whereas monounsaturated fats have one bond and saturated fats have no double bonds.
Fatty acids tend to be more reactive if it has more double bonds in it. Oxidation of Polyunsaturated fats may cause chain reactions, damaging other structures and possibly even the vital structures like DNA (5, 6).
These fatty acids settle down in the cell membranes thus increasing harmful oxidative chain reactions.
Eicosanoids in the body are a type of modified fatty acids that sit in the cell membranes and are obtained from Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
In the cell membrane, Eicosanoids play a vital role to carry out various bodily functions like cellular messaging, immunity and inflammation. After taking aspirin or ibuprofen if you get rid of headache or any other pain instantly, then the only reason behind it is inhibition of eicosanoid pathways which reduces inflammation.
Eicosanoids made from Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory while those made from Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory (7). These different fatty acids always compete with each other. If there’s more Omega-6, you’ll need more Omega-3 too. If Omega-6 is less in amount, the less Omega-3 you’ll need (8).
A diet which is high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3 leads inflammation. A diet which has both, Omega-6 and Omega-3 in balanced proportion, then it lowers the risk of inflammation (9).
It has been proven that increased inflammation may lead to various serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, depression and even cancer.
High in Trans Fats
Trans fats are unsaturated fats and are highly toxic in nature. It may cause various diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity (10,11,12).
The government around the world being aware of its harmful effects have started taking strict actions and have also implemented certain laws which says that manufacturers should reduce the trans fat content of their foods.
However, many people aren’t aware that vegetable oils contain trans fats in massive amounts. A research showed that soybean and canola oils have about 0.56% to 4.2% of fatty acids in them which are toxic trans fats (13).
Cookies and processed baked products too contain trans fats but the best way to lower the exposure of trans fats is to completely avoid vegetable oils.
May increase the risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Despite the fact that vegetable oils help lower cholesterol, the polyunsaturated fats in certain vegetable oils can increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Besides, cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in the world.(14).
Earlier, saturated fats were considered to be the major cause for cardiovascular disease but later after a research, it seemed to be harmless (15,16). In a scientific experiment, the Randomized Controlled Trials examined the effects that vegetable oils can have on cardiovascular disease.
3 studies have found a drastically increased risk (17, 18, 19), while 4 of them found no statistically significant effect (20, 21, 22, 23).
Only one study found a protective effect, but this study had a various flaws (24).
According to the observational studies, the Omega-6 content of blood increased the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (25).
There are some studies which show that polyunsaturated fats lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. But they fail to make distinction between Omega-3s and Omega-6s, which is very important. But after the distinction, it is clear that Omega-6s actually increase the risk, while Omega-3s have a protective effect (26).
May lead to various harmful diseases
Vegetables oils seem to be harmful for both humans as well as for animals.
A study showed that increased Omega-6 in breast milk was associated with eczema and asthma in young children (27).
Studies have also shown that intake of Omega-6 may lead to cancer in both animals and humans which is a very difficult to treat at a later stage.
A strong correlation between vegetable oil consumption and homicide rates has been shown in one of the studies (30).
Severe depression can be caused due the Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio (31).
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