Oils, part 2: why we’re still consuming a health hazard

By Kate Robitello

In my previous article on oils, I discussed why there are only four oils that we should be consuming: flax oil, olive oil, coconut oil and advocado oil. However, just a glance at many ingredient lists of top brand food items reveals that they will almost always contain an oil that is not on the list of acceptable and even health-promoting oils. But why? If we have scientific data that expresses the danger of eating oils that were not included in my “list of acceptable oils” article, then why is it such a rarity to see a brand of chips that are baked with coconut oil instead of fried with sunflower oil?

Cheap to make, easy to sell

Canola oil is perhaps the best example. Did you know that the “canola plant” does not exist naturally? Canola oil was created in the 1970s by Canadian scientists who were experimenting with the oil producing plant called the rapeseed, from which canola oil is derived. There are two primary reasons why rapeseed oil was a relatively unpopular choice for consumers and merchants alike. The first is rather obvious: the name. But the second reason is because of the high erucic acid content of rapeseed oil, which according the University of Istanbul’s study, published in 2009, may cause kidney damage and cardiovascular issues.

So we genetically altered the rapeseed into something a bit different, which is now deemed “canola,” or “Canada Oil No Acid.” According to the Environmental Working Group, canola subsidies totaled almost $42 million in 2012. And where does this money come from? Your paycheck, by way of taxes. Canola oil is cheap to produce and genetically modified with Monsanto’s ever-popular herbicidal Roundup Ready formula, so it’s no surprise that it is found in a large variety of products like butter substitutes, chips, cookies, crackers, you name it.

But is it healthy?

The short answer is No. Not only is canola unnatural, but it is not heat-stable, meaning the lipid composition in canola oil is altered when exposed to high heat, which, when consumed on a regular basis, can cause serious health issues, primarily linked to chronic inflammation. Of course, the multiple studies published in the National Institutes of Health that proclaim the dangers of Roundup Ready’s primary ingredient, glyphosate, provide solid evidence that mammals, including humans, need not consume glyphosate unless they are looking to experience endocrine disruption, marked fetal development abnormalities, and oxidative stress.

Other oils such as sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut, and soybean oil, though perhaps not all biochemically engineered, are also cheap to produce, heavily subsidized, and high in inflammation-promoting omega 6 fatty acids.

Money in “education”

While studying dietetics at the University of Vermont, I often found that the dietary recommendations set by the USDA’s “My Healthy Plate” were slightly off—and in a predictable way. I soon discovered that not only was the USDA heavily subsidizing commodity foods like corn, soy, wheat, and canola (to the tune of $177.6 billion from 1995 to 2012), but that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) was sponsored by Coca Cola, Kelloggs, Pepsi, and General Mills!

That’s right, dietitians are unfortunately being educated by the very entities that are creating the high demand for medicinal and diet practitioners. So it’s not overly shocking that dangerous oils are still being touted as “healthy” by the “experts,” as that’s what they have been strategically taught.

It all comes down to profit.

Profitability of the already-profitable is the key driving factor behind why we’re still trying to determine what is healthy and what is harmful. Regardless of what the “experts” tell you, even myself – do your health the biggest favor of all and create a lasting awareness of what you are actually consuming. After all, as the saying goes, “what you are is what you eat,” what could be more important than that?

Kate Robitello is a Plant Based Nutritionist (CPBN) and Lifestylist. She works at Pyramid Wellness in Rutland.

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