Chances are that you have bein advised about the importance of avoiding fried foods. While most people think it is all about fat and salt content, the fact is beyond that. Other than the oil that soaks into the food, the fumes that the oils produce when cooking is unhealthy.
However, some fried foods can be fine as long as the oil used in their preparation is healthy. Most vegetable oils are very unstable. They can release toxic chemicals, such as aldehyde when exposed to heat or oxygen. Such chemicals can act as carcinogens and neurotoxins.
Regular use of vegetable oils such as sunflower, canola, rice bran, soybean, corn, and safflower can create these toxic chemicals. When reused, these oils can significantly increase the quantity of the toxins.
High Cancer Rates
Scientists who researched oils were capable of measuring the DNA-damaging chemicals found in the oil. However, most chemicals escape as fumes where they are breathed in by every person in your household. It is suggested that the increase in cases of lung cancer can be blamed on the seed oils used in cooking.
How True is This?
According to reports in The Daily Mail, cooking with vegetable oils for only 20 minutes releases over 20 times the allowed levels of aldehyde. This is way too high than the recommended maximum limit by the WHO.
When the oils start to produce fumes, it marks the point which the oils start releasing the toxic substances. It’s also the point which the healthy compounds start to get spoilt. In other words, oils that have a lower smoke point are more likely to start producing harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures. Flaxseed oil and coconut oil have lower smoke points though they are healthier than soybean and canola oil.
Examining Aldehyde Production
Some researchers gathered samples of used vegetable oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, goose fat, butter, cold-pressed rapeseed, and lard. Their goal was to check the full extent of aldehyde production. They samples were taken to De Montfort University in Leicester. Martin Grootveld, professor of bio-analytical chemistry and chemical pathology analyzed their contents.
Reporting to the Daily Mail, Professor Grootveld said that they discovered that sunflower oil and corn oil which were poly-unsaturated produced extremely high levels of aldehyde. Grootveld noted that though the two oils are fine to use in the kitchen, you should not subject them to heat, like when cooking or frying.
The study also discovered two types of aldehyde that were previously unknown in the samples. The known aldehydes were also found to more toxic than it was previously assumed. Goose fat, olive oil, and butter generated fewer aldehyde when they were heated. It was suggested that it could be as a result of their higher levels of saturated and monounsaturated fats. These two are more stable than other fats when exposed to heat. Heating corn oil and sunflower oil produced three times more aldehyde than butter.
In reference to Professor Gootveld, the oils produced far lower levels of toxic compounds which are not very harmful to the human body. The professor noted that the authorities have for long warned people against using butter and lard in cooking. However, they discovered how healthy the two can be for frying purposes.
Aldehydes can also form when the oils are exposed to sunlight over time. This is the reason healthy cooking oils should be kept in opaque containers and placed in dark, cool places.
The Study of Canola Oil
Apart from being massively GMO, canola oil is very unstable when exposed to high temperatures. Also known as rapeseed oil, canola oil is derived from a plant that is hybrid of turnip rapeseed, leaf mustard, and black mustard. Canola oil is genetically modified since 1995. In fact, 90% of Canadian-produced canola oil is currently GMO certified.
It also undergoes partial hydrogenation where it is heated from 500 to 1,000 degrees under different atmospheric pressures. It is then introduced to a catalyst, such as aluminum, nickel, or platinum to transform its density and structure. Omega-3 fatty acids are turned into trans fatty acids during this process. Similar to other partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, canola oils can trigger liver, kidney, neurological, and cardiovascular problems.
It is commonly used not because it is safe or healthier but due to its cheap price and ease of production. Canola oil is commonly used in cosmetics, processed foods, inks, insecticides, and biofuels.
Understanding the Severity of the Problem
In reference to Professor John Stein, the increased use of these oils is negatively impacting on our brains due to high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. These replace the vital anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. The professor of neuroscience at Oxford’s emeritus equates the serious effects of these oils to our brain with climate change. It’s to blame for rising cases mental health issues and other problems like dyslexia, according to Professor Stein.
Other conditions associated with the use of these oils include cancer, inflammation, ulcers, high blood pressure, malformations during pregnancy, and heart disease.
Health experts are recommending the use of coconut oil, organic butter, olive oil, and red palm fruit oil other than cheap vegetable and corn oil. Use avocado oil for high-temperature frying because it has a high smoke point.