We all know the FDA is hopelessly mired in denial,
incompetence, politically-motivated policies, and bureaucratic
stupidity. But even these people finally "got it" about a year and a
half ago. That's when they said it was OK for olive oil producers to
include an understated health claim on their label.|
I'm sure much of this breakthrough had to do with the
fact that olive oil is a big industry with lobbyists and lots of
campaign dollars. This would explain why they got special treatment,
though producers of other oils did not. Olive oil isn't the only oil
that's good for you. Mankind isn't genetically wired to need olive oil
to the exclusion of all other oils, FDA regulations not withstanding.
Many other oils are available on supermarket
shelves. Most of these cost more than olive oil, but the diversity in
your diet is good for you. Here, we'll address a few of these
oils--there are many more. Let's start with the salad oils.
probably read that a deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids contributes to
such health problems as allergies, arthritis, depression, eczema, and
poor memory. Of course, if you have such a deficiency, you may not
recall reading that.
Much of the hoopla about Omega-3 concludes that
you need to take fish oil, but that's a false conclusion. You don't need
mercury-laden fish supplements to get your Omega 3. If you eat enough of
the right vegetables (mostly the brassicas), you'll have enough Omega 3.
Adding flaxseed oil can help ensure you do.
Among plant sources, flax has the most omega-3
essential fatty acids per unit of volume. As a bonus, flax is high in
alpha-linolenic acid. Your body uses this to make
docasahexaenoic acid. Your body then uses this acid to build brain,
heart, and retinal tissue. If you're using flax, you can honestly tell
your friends you're doing acid!
Taking Omega-3 supplements can provide unintended
negative consequences. You need the right ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 to
Omega-12. Generally, a cold-processed oil helps promote this, while a
straight-out supplement tends to promote an imbalance. You may need to supplement, if a blood test shows an imbalance. Otherwise, you may
be doing more harm than good. But, here's a hint:
- The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is
- The typical American diet has a nearly 25:1
- A person following the dietary advice in this
eNL and at www.supplecity.com
will have a 4:1 ratio or close to it.
Flaxseed has a taste that, like the US Congress,
is nutty. This makes it great to use in place of butter on steamed
vegetables. Just don't cook with it. This oil is very delicate and
cooking destroys it. Many people add a tablespoon of flax oil to their protein shakes.
oil has undergone extensive study by the American Heart Association, and
they have a pretty high opinion of it. One reason why might be that the
phytoestrogens (also called lignans) in sesame oil help protect
the heart. They also retard the growth of cancer cells. They don't
retard the growth of government, because government is already retarded.
But the heart and cancer benefits are reward enough.
You need magnesium for your body to utilize
calcium. Magnesium has other important functions in the body, too. In
addition, it has proven to ease the symptoms of diabetes and Crohn's
disease. Why do we suddenly talk about magnesium? Because sesame oil is
a good source of magnesium.
You can also use sesame oil for low-temperature
cooking. This reduces its aroma and taste, but it's often worthwhile. I
have a great
sugar-free amaranth cookies, using sesame oil in place of butter.
You can also use it in my sugar-free, highly satisfying
it's pricey. But it tastes great and is good for you. So, buy a small
container and enjoy one of life's small pleasures. Walnut oil helps
fight cancer, because it's high in ellagic acid. It helps boost the
immune system, because it contains phytochemicals called saponins. Even
the FDA is pro-walnut oil. This oil is high in vitamin E and in Omega-3 fatty acids.
You can bake with walnut oil, adding a great deal
of flavor, but only as a partial substitution. So, for example, replace
half the butter with sesame oil and half with walnut oil. For best
baking results, leave half the butter in and replace a fourth with each
of those oils. If you're not overindulging in saturated fats, your body
can handle that much butter. Don't use it for frying or stir-frying--it
goes up in smoke pretty fast.
Grapeseed. Just as
olive oil contains phytosterols, so does grapeseed oil. This oil isn't
widely considered one of the "miracle oils," but it does have health
benefits similar to those of the other oils--just to a lesser degree.
One reason to cook with grapeseed oil is it has a
mild taste that doesn't overwhelm the taste of what you're cooking.
Health aficionados tend to consider it a good alternative to lard.
Deep-frying in lard is pretty much a suicide
mission. But grapeseed oil, which you can heat to 485 DegrF (very high,
as far as cooking temperatures go), can substitute for lard. Yes, you do
get a better fat profile. But don't get overconfident in deep-fried
foods. Drenching your food in that much oil ratchets up the calorie
density something fierce. Don't deep-fry very often, and be sure to
reduce your calories in other ways when you do. And, yes, use the higher
temperature. This reduces fat absorption and results in more crispiness.
Peanut. This is the
first "alternative oil" I was ever exposed to. I first learned of it at
Cedric's Fish And Chips in 1977. It has a fairly neutral flavor. It
doesn't start smoking until 450 DegrF, which means you can cook and fry
just about anything with it.
The downside it it's an expensive oil, compared to
what most fry joints use. Where it's used in commercial fry vats,
there's normally considerable effort put into maintaining those vats and
not wasting this oil.
An interesting component of peanut oil is
resveratrol (not "reservatrol"). Resveratrol reduces cardiovascular
disease and is a potent cancer fighter.
There's an entire industry devoted to selling a
toxic high calorie, bacteria urine contaminated liquid as a beverage for
humans. This industry has promoted its brew as healthy, by noting that
it contains resveratrol. To that, I say, add resveratrol to gasoline and
drink all you want. The presence of something healthy in something toxic
really isn't relevant to the toxicity. The wine industry may hate the
unblemished truth, but there it is. Get your resveratrol from peanut
This oil also contains folic acid, which we now
know is a potent colon cancer fighter. Folic acid deficiencies are also
strongly linked to various types of birth defects.
Controversial or underappreciated oils
There's quite a bit of misinformation about
certain oils. These are commonly blended or sold outright as "vegetable
oil." They are:
Corn. Why this is a "vegetable" oil escapes
me, because corn is a grain. I have no idea if this oil is good or bad,
but it is cheap. Also, corn has been bred for over 5,000 years to be
high in sugar. It's a reasonable guess that the lipid profile of corn
oil isn't exactly healthy.
Sunflower. This is a flower, not a
vegetable. So again, a mislabeled oil. It has a mild taste and is more
heart-healthy than olive oil. It's very pricey, but it's a great
addition to your oil repertoire. You can cook with it.
Soy. As a member of the pea family, soy is
a legume. So, unlike corn or sunflower oil, soy oil is a vegetable oil.
The quality of soy oil depends on its processing. Cheap soy oil that's
been hot processed lacks the nutrients you find in cold-processed,
higher-priced soy oil. The commercial grade soy oil you see on food
product labels has no health benefits. Think of what happens to
vegetables when you overcook them, and you start to understand what
happens to soy oil when it's hot-processed.
Safflower. This is one of the healthiest
oils there is. You can cook with it, too. It's expensive, but it's high
in linoleic acid and oleic acid, as well and many other nutrients.
Almond. This is another pricey oil.
However, it imparts a wonderful flavor to foods. It's high in B vitamins
and in vitamin E, while being almost devoid of carbohydrates. You can
bake with it, but frying isn't recommended.
Canola. This oil has been hyped by a
vast PR machine espousing non-existent health benefits. This has caused
a counter PR machine denigrating this oil.
One reason to use canola oil is it's cheap.
Another is it, unlike butter, doesn't contain saturated animal fat So,
you could substitute it for butter in baking. But you will not have the
butter flavor or the other benefits of cooking with butter. You'll
simply have traded one type of fat for another, with reduced quality of
the baked good. Butter hydrolyzes when you bake with it, which is why
cakes and cookies become firm. Canola oil stays liquid, so goods baked
with it stay soft and doughy.
Is it good for you or not? If you do your research on canola oil, you'll
find that the anti-canola crowd uses the data on rapeseed oil rather
than on canola oil. These are not the same oil, though they have similar
derivation. Canola comes from a specialized variety of rapeseed that has
dramatically different characteristics from regular rapeseed.
Standard rapeseed is very high in erucic acid,
while canola oil has hardly any of it. This erucic acid is what causes
all the problems the anti-canola crowd rants about. You don't get any of
these problems from canola oil. Because the anti-canola people are
looking at apples and talking about oranges (figuratively speaking), you
have to suspect anything they say as being just so much uninformed
"chicken little" ranting.
While none of the dangers typically ascribed to
canola oil actually apply to it, none of the health benefits ascribed to
canola oil exist, either.
There is one rumor I haven't been able to
substantiate or disprove. Allegedly, if you exceed the cooking
temperature of canola, it will break down into unhealthy components. I
suspect that this, like the other "problems" with it is just another
unfounded accusation. Which could explain why it's not addressed in the
literature on canola oil. I use "the literature" in an academic
sense--that's a standard phrase meaning "researched papers that are
peer-reviewed and published, and generally acknowledged to be
authoritative." Experts don't waste their time trying to disprove every
crackpot theory that comes along.
My layman's opinion is this. The whole issue on
"cook or don't cook with canola oil" is moot. Because canola oil has no
health benefits, I see no reason to use it when oils that do have health
benefits are readily available. So in the final analysis, the
anti-canola crowd is right when they say not to use canola oil--just for
the wrong reasons.
With all oils, buy the cold-processed (pressed)
version, only. Hot processing is cheaper, but it diminishes the oil and
destroys those healthy phytochemicals. So, you actually get more value
from the higher-priced cold-processed oil.
When you read virgin, extra virgin, or extra extra
virgin on the oil label, this refers to the cold-processing method. It
does not refer to the hired help at the company that bottled the oil.