In The Economics of Quality Food I mentioned that the top three produced “foods” in the U.S. are soy, corn, and wheat.
And I think my statement about that is important enough to repeat:
If someone asked me: “Hey Kevin, I really want to slowly kill myself, look like hell, get cancer, have man boobs, and have no friends, what should I do?” What do you think I’d tell them? Of course, I’d tell them to eat corn, soybeans, wheat, and all products made from those three ingredients.
“All products made from those ingredients” refers mostly to the oils and the food products that contain the oils.
Americans get 20% of their total calories from soybean oil, an industrial vegetable oil. There are many other vegetable and seed oils like corn or canola that are just as bad as soybean oil and these oils are pervasive; if they’re not an ingredient in a food, they’re used to cook foods.
When I say “vegetable oils” (a term used by Big Agriculture) and seed oils with regard to harming your health, I’m mainly talking about these specific oils: soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, and grapeseed oil.
The fact that the government and modern medicine claim these oils are heart healthy foods is not negligence, it’s flat out fraud. Scientists are paid money to come to specific conclusions, the rules are changed to subsidize specific crops, and everybody wins except you and me. Despicable.
I’m planning on writing a definitive guide to oils (both healthy and unhealthy) for an in depth look, but first I want to give you five good reasons to ditch vegetable and seed oils because they’re one of the biggest culprits in the epidemic of obesity and heart disease.
1. Lopsided Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratios
We all know how important it is to reduce inflammation. One way is to consume fats that are high in omega-3s (O3) rather than high in omega-6s (O6) because O3s have the unique ability to calm the flames of systemic inflammation.
The optimal ratio of O6 to O3 is 1 to 1. Many Americans — due to the overconsumption of O6 fats — are hovering around the 30:1 mark.
Vegetable and seed oils are mostly comprised of O6 fats. Even Canola Oil, which is touted as “heart healthy” and “packed with O3 fats” is a poor choice because the O3 fats in Canola Oil are typically oxidized by the time you consume them.
O6 and O3 fats are polyunsaturated fats. These fats aren’t very stable, so the process of producing them is important. Canola Oil undergoes a lot of heating during processing, which oxidizes these fats and makes them harmful. The same thing happens when you cook at certain temperatures with Olive Oil — it’s no longer healthy once the fats are heated.
The other problem is that polyunsaturated fats are susceptible to air, light, and moisture. They oxidize easily which promotes free radicals in the body and increases systemic inflammation causing a chain reaction of negative consequences to your health.
Remember, these oils are in nearly everything. Your O6 to O3 ratio should be as close to 1 to 1 as possible, but with the ingestion of these vegetable oils you’re driving that ratio through the roof. A lopsided ratio is a key indicator of poor health.
If you’re interested in finding out what your ratio is, WellnessFX has a new Omega panel that you can request through Quest Diagnostics.
Quick Tip: People think supplementing with Fish Oil or Krill Oil is a good idea. And while I do recommend supplementation with high quality fish/krill oil, my MAIN recommendation is to get the polyunsaturated fats out of your diet first. The best way to improve your ratio is to stop consuming the bad stuff.
2. Cholesterol Crisis
When did heart disease start getting out of control? Precisely when society switched from stable, saturated fats to vegetable and seed oils. This switch came via the saturated fat and cholesterol scare prompted by Ancel Keys and the bogus lipid hypothesis, which purported to link saturated fat and high cholesterol with heart disease.
That myth has been thoroughly debunked, yet we’re still suffering the consequences of the scare. In fact, it’s still being pushed today by Big Agriculture — the people who produce these oils — and government institutions who are funded by Big Agriculture.
The craziness is that vegetable oils are promoted as improving cholesterol. What vegetable oils do in many cases is reduce total cholesterol numbers. What nobody told you is that total cholesterol numbers are meaningless (more on that here and here). 75% of heart attack patients have a lipid panel that does not indicate high risk for heart attack. Relying on total cholesterol numbers (which is the standard panel) is worse than flipping a coin.
So, what does matter? The size and type of cholesterol is what matters. And while vegetable oils may lower total cholesterol, they skew the size and type of the particles in the wrong direction. If you want more information on understanding cholesterol in clear terms, I’d recommend Jimmy Moore’s book, Cholesterol Clarity.
The need to know information is this: if your goal is a healthy heart, vegetable oils are literally killing you.
3. Gut Disruption & Immune Suppression
One of the first things you learn about gluten is it’s ability to disrupt gut flora and function. A lot of the improvements you see in your body when you go gluten-free are due to the healing of systemic inflammation as your body is no longer spending every waking minute attacking ingested gluten (or your own body depending on your condition).
Unfortunately, if you’re consuming vegetable oils, you’re not able to heal completely. If you’re following strategies to heal your gut, but you’re still consuming vegetable oils, you’re taking one step forward and two steps back.
It’s also important to note that with this gut disruption and systemic inflammation comes immune suppression.
If you’re tired of getting sick, then you have to do things that strengthen your immune system. Since your gut houses 80% of your immune system, keeping your gut functioning properly and your healthy gut flora happy goes a long way toward sick-proofing yourself.
Vegetable oils — and the inflammation they promote — disrupt gut flora and function, effectively suppressing your immune system. If you want to get sick less often, ditching the vegetable oils is a big step in the right direction.
4. Weight Gain and Obesity
I’m a huge proponent of the “don’t be afraid of fat” movement (aka reality). But, that statement does need a little clarity. You should absolutely be afraid of fats in the form of vegetable and seed oils, not just for health but for weight management as well.
When scientists put rats on a diet high in omega-6 fats (high meaning the current recommendation for humans) they not only gained weight, but their appetites increased considerably more than the rats who were put on a low omega-6 diet (not low-fat, just low omega-6).
The story gets even better. When the diets were supplemented with omega-3 fats, the metabolic function improved, alluding to the importance of the ratio we talked about earlier. Another study — also with rats — showed that rats fed a diet high in omega-6 gained weight rapidly versus a diet low in omega-6 regardless of how much they ate.
This is another reason why calories don’t matter, and quality does. This isn’t just about inflammation and long term health, it’s about metabolic derangement.
5. Insert Your Ailment Here
One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is this: disease is driven by inflammation in the body. Not inflammation per say, but the things that cause inflammation. Consume stuff that inflames you and a whole host of problems occur. Consume stuff that doesn’t promote inflammation (and instead promotes healing) and you’re going to feel great.
Vegetable and seed oils are drivers of inflammation. If you suffer from inflammatory ailments such as arthritis you’re likely contributing to the problem by consuming these inflammatory foods.
Even if you don’t have arthritis, how do those knees, ankles, etc. feel these days?
A few years ago (when I was still in my 20s) I had horrible heel pain in the mornings as well as lower back pain. I had no idea what the cause was or how to fix it.
It lasted for years, until I committed to losing weight. The change in my diet when rebooting myself healed the chronic pain. I wasn’t changing my diet for that reason, it just happened. And it helped me make a huge connection between nutrition and performance.
Too many people go through life with little nagging ailments assuming that it’s all just part of being human. It’s not. Those ailments are caused by something and more often than not they can be fixed. Start by stripping the ANTI foods from your diet.
Putting it all together
To be clear, omega-6 is not bad. The body needs omega-6 fats. Our bodies also need balance. That balance used to be achieved quite easily, but the advent of modern agriculture and government subsidies for crop production has created a market skewed toward foods that promote poor health: CAFO beef, industrial vegetable and seed oils in EVERYTHING, wheat, corn, soy, and so on.
Food can either be medicine or poison. Vegetable oils are a pervasive poison in modern society and replacing them with healthy fats will go a long way to protecting your health and helping you reach both short term and long term goals.
Founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. Kevin helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.