Why is Vegetable Oil so unhealthy ?
Many people perceive vegetable oils as healthy.
Maybe it’s because they have the word “vegetable” in them.
I mean… vegetables are good for you, right? So vegetable oil must be too…
Even the mainstream nutrition organizations recommend that we eat them, because according to them, unsaturated fats are much healthier than saturated fats.
However, many studies have now demonstrated that these oils can cause serious harm. Refined cooking oils are made by highly intensive mechanical and chemical processes to extract the oil from the seeds. This process removes the natural nutrients from the seeds and creates a final product which oxidizes easily. The oxidation factor makes these oils more likely to break down into cancer causing free radicals within the body. Many vegetable oils undergo hydrogenation, which turns them into trans fatty acids
The process of extracting vegetable oil from oil seeds is not for the squeamish. Take a look at the steps and decide for yourself if this is a “food” you want to consume:
- The seeds are husked and cleaned of dirt and dust, then crushed.
- The crushed seeds are then heated to temperatures between 110 degrees and 180 degrees in a steam bath to start the oil extraction process.
- The seeds are put through a high volume press which uses high heat and friction to press the oil from the seed pulp.
- The seed pulp and oil are then put through a hexane solvent bath and steamed again to squeeze out more oil.
Note: Hexane is produced by the refining of crude petroleum oil. It is a mild anesthetic. Inhalation of high concentrations produces a state of mild euphoria, followed by sleepiness with headaches and nausea. In severe cases, atrophy of the skeletal muscles is observed, along with a loss of coordination and problems of vision.
- Now the seed/oil mixture is put through a centrifuge and phosphate is added to begin the separation of the oil and seed residues.
- After solvent extraction, the crude oil is separated and the solvent is evaporated and recovered.
- The crude vegetable oil is then put through further refining techniques including degumming, neutralization and bleaching
- Deodorization is the final step in the refining of vegetable oils. Pressurize steam at extremely high temp (500 degrees or more) is used to remove volatile compounds which would cause off odors and tastes in the final product.
The process of refining vegetable oil damages the fats and makes the oils very unstable and prone to going rancid quite easily. Rancid oils in any form are particularly bad for your health.
Author : FATIMA UMAR
Department : Plant breeding And Genetics
(UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE FSD)