Certain Vegetable Oils May Pose Health Risk

Students taking online culinary classes know all about the various types of cooking oils used in everyday dishes and Michelin-rated restaurants. What you may not know is that research is showing that vegetable oils might not be as healthy a substitute for animal fats after all.

Vegetable oils became the preferred substitute of animal fats once it was discovered that plant-based oils reduced the amount of serum cholesterol levels. Recently, however, scientists in Canada conducted a study that challenges the evidence found from previous research.

The authors of the paper, Dr. Richard Bazinet from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, and Dr. Michael Chu Lawson from Western University, London, Ontario, argued that corn and safflower oils do not offer any health benefits because they contain high levels of omega-6 but little omega-3 alpha linolenic acid.

A study from February 2013 replaced saturated fat with corn and safflower oils in the diets of at-risk volunteers. The levels of serum cholesterol in their blood decreased, but the overall rate of death caused by cardiovascular and coronary artery disease dramatically increased.

Why these seemingly healthy oils increased the rate of death caused by heart disease is currently being studied. Doctors Bazinet and Chu speculate that the spike might be related to a bio-chemical process within the body, stating, “The detrimental effects of linolenic acid were seen in participants who were smokers and those who consumed alcohol, people likely to be under increased oxidative stress.”

Because the food industry is marketing products made with certain vegetable oil as healthy, the scientists are appealing to the Canadian government and asking that the labeling process be put under heavier scrutiny. Ubiquitous food items in Canada, such as mayonnaise, margarine, chips and creamy dressings, all contain significant amounts of corn and safflower oil.

Bazinet and Chu suggest you use canola and soybean oil, which are rich in omega-3s, instead.

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