No Such Thing As ‘Healthy’ Refined Oil

When adopting a plant-based diet, it is important to realise not all ‘vegan-friendly’ products are good for your health. Refined oils are a prime example – commonly used in baking and cooking, their lack of animal products gain it a pass from many unsuspecting vegans.

Whether derived from peanuts or soybeans, they are filled with nasties which can adversely affect your health years down the road.

What is refined oil, anyway? 

In short, refined oil is derived from seeds of various plants – most commonly from canola, soybeans, sunflower, peanuts, olives and others.

Attempting to draw oil from these seeds at room temperature is a rather unprofitable process for major corporations, so they instead subject their feedstock to high temperatures and a witch’s brew of chemicals.

The composition of these oils post-extraction and the refining procedure makes them a hazard to human health – we’ll break down this accusation point-by-point below.

Refined oils contain harmful free radicals 

In order to extract oil from seeds, they must be heated to extremely high temperatures. When the oil is heated, it oxidises, producing free radicals.

These stay suspended in the finished product – as such, every time you cook with canola, sunflower, or peanut oil, you are flooding your body with a substance known to cause cell damage and inflammation, which sets the table for a host of diseases.

Inflammation in blood vessels leads to atherosclerosis, which in turn leads to high blood pressure, heart disease, and an ever-increasing risk of heart attacks or strokes.

Cell damage poses a wide range of threats – from premature ageing to the development of cancer, the introduction of free radicals to your system on an ongoing basis does nothing but compromise your health in the long run.

The refining process adds a host of nasty additives 

Heat alone is not enough to separate oil from seeds – industrial processes employed in the production of refined oil also use a variety of chemicals to increase the efficiency of the extraction process.

These include phosphoric acid (increases risk of heart disease/osteoporosis in excess), citric acid (can cause irritation in the digestive system), and BHA/BHT (used to maintain freshness, but has been linked to kidney/liver damage, the production of carcinogens, and weakened immune systems).

They have a high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids 

Let’s get one thing straight – Omega-6 fatty acids are an essential component of the human diet, as it and Omega-3s are two fatty acids the body cannot produce on its own. Having said that, most people consume far too much of the former nutrient on a daily basis.

When eaten in excess, Omega-6 fatty acids push the body down a pro-inflammation pathway, which increases a person’s risk of heart disease and for various types of cancer. The recommended ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids is around 3:1 – by cutting refined oils out of your diet, this standard becomes much easier to achieve.

Many contain trans fats 

As fats go, the trans variety is the most hideous of the lot. Strongly correlated with the development of obesity, diabetes, various cancers, and heart disease, this is a substance you’ll want to avoid at all costs.

Along with chucking out any tubs of margarine you may have, doing the same with any bottles of refined oils is the best thing you can do to ensure this nasty compound never gets inside your gut.

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