Dna image in pink and purple

What’s the deal with Vegetable Oils? Why you need to avoid them.

There’s something ubiquitous in our foods, a sinister ingredient prevalent in almost all processed foods and included in many foods labelled as heart healthy, vegan and gluten free. This guest blog by the wonderful Sara Aguilar explains in detail what this ingredient is!

The DNA Disruptor

It’s an ingredient that, on consumption, plays havoc with your DNA, releasing free-radicals and disrupting enzymes while oxidising your insides. What is it? It is not sugar, nor is it gluten, nor is it the ever-demonised saturated fat…it is the degraded structure of seed oils, also known as vegetable oils.

What could be so bad about them? It is in fact the chemical and heat processing techniques used in factories to industrially extract the oils from the seed which degrades the unstable molecular structure of the fat.

Chemically processing seeds increases the oil yield—thus profits—compared with cold pressing a seed. So, it is profitable for companies to use harsh, industrialised techniques to extract the oils with no regard for the consumer’s health.

The Health Risks Associated with Vegetable Seed Oil

  1. The consumption of industrial seed oils represents an evolutionary mismatch as they have only been recently introduced into our diet. They are not ancestral foods as seeds and grains had no place in our diet 100,000 years ago.

  2. Vegetable Oils are highly inflammatory. Eating industrial seed oils raises our omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratios, with significant consequences for our health. They are high in Linoleic Acid—a polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid—which is highly inflammatory when consumed in excess.

  3. Industrial seed oils are unstable and oxidize easily, thus causing oxidation in our bodies.

  4. Seed oils often contain harmful additives and processed with hexane chemicals.

  5. They are often derived from genetically modified crops.

  6. When industrial seed oils are repeatedly heated, even more toxic by-products are created and they become trans and hydrogenated fats, releasing oxidising free radicals into our system.

Unstable verse Stable Fatty Acids

Smoothing over the science, you have two main types of fats: unstable unsaturated fatty acids and stable saturated fatty acids. Unstable fatty acids include polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats; i.e. the molecular structure is unstable under heat and thus the fat transforms and becomes reactive. Stable fats include saturated fats which are stable under heat—to their smoking point—this means that their chemical structure does not change under heat.

Dr Catherine Shanahan explains how the heat processing of seed oils can impact your cells:

‘Processing distorts the fatty acids in vegetable oils so they can no longer assume the typical five or six sided geometry. Like Chinese finger traps, our enzymes pick up these distorted fatty acids and then can’t let them go., which hampers cellular function so profoundly it can kill your cells. And if you eat enough trans fats, cellular dysfunction will impair so many cells in so many tissues that the cumulative effects will disrupt basic functions (like blood circulation or your body’s ability to fight infection) and eventually kill you.’ – Deep Nutrition p.131

If Seed oils really are that bad, why are they in most of our pre-packaged foods?

olive oil with olives

You might be thinking: what’s wrong with unstable fats and surely if they were that ‘bad’ for you, they would not be used in processed foods. Well, the science that demonstrates the dangers of seed oils is relatively new and—more importantly—processed seed oils are a cheaper ingredient than using a cold-pressed seed oil or a saturated fat such as butter or coconut oil. There are plenty of companies that do not want us to know how dangerous degraded fats are for our bodies.

Processed fats became prevalent in the food industry in the 1960s—and many chronic illnesses have been on a sharp increase since their introduction.

Trans and hydrogenated fats are industrially and chemically processed seed oils—the most insidious of all as the chemical structure has been completely distorted to the point where they release free radicals into your system.

What is a Free Radical?

The one thing you do not want in your system are free radicals.

‘Free radicals are high energy-electrons that are involved in every known disease. They cause disease by restructuring nearly every molecule they come into contact with, converting biologically functioning molecules into dysfunctional or even toxic molecules.’ —Deep Nutrition, Catherine Shanahan P. 140

How to avoid free radicals

Can you undo the damage?

The best thing you can do for your own health and the health of your family is to get rid of all vegetable oils and margarines from your home.  Simply throw them out. Replace them with saturated fats for cooking and extra virgin olive and avocado oil for dressing.

Have a look at the healthy fats guide below.

Safeguard your cells by swapping Unhealthy, Processed Fats for Healthy, Unprocessed Fats

Coconut oil for cooking

Remove:

  • Margarine
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Vegetable Oil

Cook with:

  • Tallow
  • Lard
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Ghee

Dress Salads and Garnish with:

  • Avocado Oil
  • Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • MCT Oil—for the ketone energy boost!

How do you make Healthier Choices?

  • Check the label!
  • Go for ‘cold pressed Extra Virgin’
  • Use Hunter and Gather mayonnaise and avocado oils that are processed seed oil free!
  • Make your own food from scratch—that way you know exactly what you are consuming.
  • Following Dr Chris Knobbe’s advice: At a restaurant, ask for your food to be cooked in butter, coconut oil, avocado oil or ghee and say that you are allergic to vegetable oils at a restaurant!

 

Blog post written for Hunter & Gather by Sara Aguilar, MSc Anthropologist, Sports Nutritionist & Supplements Advisor Founder of Keto Supplements and Co-Founder of LIV NRG “Passionate about fitness, nutrition and ancestral living; Sara set up Keto Supplements to source supplements and products to alleviate her husband’s epilepsy. Keto Supplements is now the leading Ketogenic Food Supplement site in Europe.”

 

All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.

It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.

We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.


6 comments


  • Laura Van Bilderbeek

    What about crisps cooked in extra virgin olive oil, are these better than sunflower oil?


  • Hunter Gather

    Hey Michaela, Thank you for your question – we believe that Rapeseed Oil ( also known as canola oil in the US) is highly inflammatory and would be one to avoid. It was initially invented as an engine lubricant and was actually toxic to us humans. It was only after careful breeding that the Rapeseed we know today was produced to make high yields of oil that isn’t acutely toxic. We personally think although not acutely toxic it is still chronically toxic to humans.

    We would use avocado oil, butter, ghee, or tallow to cook with on an everyday basis. Our Avocado Oil is of the highest grade and purity available, it is an extremely versatile, healthful, and nutrient-dense fruit oil that is cold-pressed and unrefined (yes, it comes from the green flesh!) and has a far more subtle, buttery taste than olive oil or coconut oil. Not only is avocado oil a delicious oil to drizzle cold on a salad, but you can also cook, fry, roast, and bake with it too. With a high smoke point of 250C+, avocado oil is more resistant to oxidation when heating compared to rapeseed (smoke point of roughly 190C) or other vegetable oils. You might find our free Ebook “8 Tools to Thrive” of interest as we have a whole section on this too. I hope this helps!


  • Michaela Reynolds

    Hi. I was lead to believe that rapeseed was a healthier fat to cook with. I’m not keen on the taste of olive oils when I cook fry foods. What would you recommend I change to for everyday frying. Ie curries, spag bowl things like that.
    Thanks Michaela


  • Hunter & Gather

    Hey Theresa,

    Thank you for your question – all rapeseed oil including cold-pressed we feel is inflammatory. It is also known as Canola Oil in the US. It was initially invented as an engine lubricant and was extremely toxic to us humans. It was only after careful breeding that the Rapeseed we know today and see in our fields was produced to make high yields of oil that isn’t acutely toxic.

    We personally think that although not acutely toxic it is still chronically toxic to humans. One factor is the processing ( many use hexanes or other solvents) and another factor is the 3 / 6 ratio. There are reports that high omega 6 ratio is a cause for inflammation and chronic disease.

    You might enjoy reading our free e-book called “The 8 Tools to Thrive” which has a whole section on this – you can download it through the following link – https://hunterandgatherfoods.com/pages/ebook-library

    We would always go for an alternative oil like our Avocado Oil which you know is cold-pressed, full of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids & Vitamin E. 🥑

    Our Avocado Oil has a “Best Before Date” and is usually no less than 12 months of shelf life from when you receive it directly from us. Once opened, we suggest using your oil within 3 months for optimal freshness. Always store in a dark place away from direct sunlight and ensure you keep the lid tightly closed.

    I hope that this helps,

    With thanks Nyree


  • Hunter & Gather

    Hey Deborah,
    Now, this is an interesting question Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a smoking point of around 190 C so would be fine to use for sautéing and frying over medium heat.
    Our Avocado Oil has a very high smoking point of 250C+ and is wonderful to use for searing, frying, grilling, roasting, and baking.
    This is due to it being more resistant to oxidation when heating compared to other oils.
    When fats and oils are exposed to high heat they can become damaged and this is when they breakdown and produce harmful compounds. So it is worth looking at what you are cooking and choosing the correct oil for the job! I hope that helps. Nyree


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