Is The King of Food Oils Killing You?
You’ve likely heard of the dangers of ‘seed oils’ being circulated around in recent times.
If you’re unaware, seed oils are called so because they are extracted from the seeds of various plants using various methods.
(some are better than others as you will soon see).
The term ‘seed oils’ is usually used as a negative umbrella label for eight kinds of these oils:
Canola Oil (aka rapeseed oil)
Rice Bran Oil
These oils are sometimes referred to as the “hateful eight” or “toxic eight”.
Why are these oils often labelled this way?
It’s usually for either or both of two main reasons:
1. The ‘toxic eight’ seed oils are often highly processed: many of these oils are often extracted using heat or chemicals which can oxidize the oil. This can potentially make these oils more harmful.
On the other hand, other oils and fats sources (e.g. cold-pressed oils, butters, nuts and seeds) are typically minimally processed and consumed whole. This preserves their nutritional value.
Being highly processed also means that the ‘toxic eight’ oils are easy for the body to breakdown. This usually results in overconsumption and bad dietary habits. Which leads us to reason number two;
2. The ‘toxic eight’ seed oils are easy to overconsume:
The ‘toxic eight’ are used in large quantities in processed foods and restaurant cooking. Thus, they can be easily overconsumed.
Why is this a problem?
With the exception of canola oil (though highly processed), all the seed oils previously mentioned can be harmful due to their high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids.
Why is a high amount of omega 6 fatty acids bad? Aren’t they essential?
Yes, along with omega 3 fatty acids, omega 6 fatty acids are also essential. This means that they must be obtained from our diet. The body cannot synthesize these from other nutrients.
But, because these industrialized seed oils are often overused and overconsumed, it’s very easy to upset the balance of omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty acids in the diet.
The body needs a good balance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. However, both of these essential fatty acids compete for the same enzymes for their metabolism.
When there is an excess of omega-6’s, they can outcompete omega-3’s. This leads to less omega-3’s being metabolized. This can result in an imbalance in the production of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. This can lead to a state of chronic inflammation in the body and a number of potential health issues associated.
So if you need both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, what is a good amount of each to aim for?
It’s well-established that a high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in the diet causes problems. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the human diet though is a topic of ongoing research and debate. Many sources suggest that the best ratio to aim for is between 4:1 to 1:1. I.e. for every 1-4 grams of omega-6 fatty acids a person consumes, a gram of omega-3 fatty acids should also be consumed.
Current dietary trends and the high consumption of refined omega 6 oils, has the current this ratio as high as 15:1!
But what about other seed oils and omega 6-rich foods?
You may at this point be asking;
“What about other omega 6-rich foods like nuts, seeds, and other sources of fat that we consume? Aren’t these equally as bad?”
These omega 6 sources are usually not a problem because we consume these in moderation.
On the other hand, when it comes to industrialised seed oils and the way these oils are liberally used, it’s the amount consumed that’s is of particular concern.
“And what about other seed oils such as flaxseed oil, perilla oil, and sesame seed oil – why are these not included in the “toxic eight”?
These oils have unique properties that may offer health benefits and don’t they typically fit the criteria previously mentioned.
For instance, flaxseed oil and perilla oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, these oils are some of the most balanced natural sources of essential fatty acids.
Sesame seed oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, but it is less processed than the toxic eight oils. It also contains compounds such as sesamin, sesamolin, and sesamol. These antioxidants protect the oil from oxidation (whereas the toxic eight do not have these properties).
If you choose to use these ‘other seed oils’, it’s important to choose certain varieties…Varieties that are cold-pressed and not extracted using heat or chemical solvents (to preserve the nutrition quality).
You will also notice that these three oils are included in the Performance Revolution “Good Fat Sources’ list.
Click >>HERE for this list of dietary fats and other foods we advise our clients to consume.
What are some ways to increase omega 3 fatty acids in your diet?
To increase omega 3 fatty acids in your diet, you can restrict consumption of the ‘toxic eight’ and consume more of the other seed oils previously mentioned.
But there are some other foods you can consume too if you’re looking to better balance your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. These include:
- Wild caught fatty fish: salmon, sardines, and mackerel
- Nuts and seeds: walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Grass-fed lamb and beef and associated fat
- Butter and coconut oil
- Whole eggs from chickens fed with flaxseed/linseed
- Beans and legumes: red kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, Roman beans, broad beans
(Some of the above foods are good sources of other macronutrients too. These can be found under the protein and carbs sections of the list provided earlier).
Build your diet around these foods and it will be hard to go wrong with balancing your omega 6 to omega 3 intake.
Some of these are very easy swaps for foods you are already eating.
It’s often easier to cut one habit by substituting with another.
It cannot be understated that it is VERY easy to over-consume the ‘toxic eight’ seed oils in today’s world if you’re not careful.
It’s VERY important to get your fat intake right for both your waistline AND your health.
If you need some help in better balancing your essential fatty acids (or any other part of your diet for that matter), this is something we cover in our Lean Body Program
Click >>HERE for the info page
Don’t ignore this.
– Michael & The Performance Revolution Team