Are You Being Misled? Discovering the truth about cooking oils

What cooking oils are safe? Which cooking oils are safe?
If Dr. Ken Berry meant to say you need to consume saturated fat to protect your brain and nerves, then he fails Biochem 101. Your body can produce all the saturated fat it needs from carbs and protein. You do not need to consume any saturated fat. You can’t produce the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in your brain, so you need to eat them. (You need to eat seafood or the precursor omega-3 PUFAs called ALA from cold-climate plant species.) Ironically, ALA is found in Canola Oil, which Dr. Berry dislikes, but not the oils from tropical plants that he prefers. Later, we’ll talk more about that. Diets high in saturated fat are not good for your heart. The American Heart Association continues recommending low saturated fat diets, with the sat fat replaced by mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and not carbohydrates, because animal and human studies and even properly controlled epidemiology show that these diets are the best (see below-an extensive meta-analysis [1]). The DASH hypertension and closely related Mediterranean diets (which have lots of monounsaturated fat acid and seafood for DHA) are examples. What is Dr. Berry’s direct evidence that his diet is better for longevity than the Mediterranean? The body uses saturated fat to produce cholesterol. (You don’t have to consume any cholesterol to achieve this). It does increase cholesterol and increases atherosclerosis, and in almost every controlled experimental model on animals and humans. This is considered the gold standard in medicine.

Epidemiology can only go so far, as sometimes when one thing (saturated fatty acids) is replaced by another thing (certain carbohydrate), one does not detect any epidemiological effect.

This happens in many countries with high or low saturated fats. It is enough to make saturated fatty acids look benign when used as a single variable. This is not true. These studies show that substituting butter for sugar or carbs with a high glycemic index will give you a diet just as bad for your arteries. It is not until you compare these diets to low-carbohydrate and low-saturated fat ones that one can see the true impact. This double-negative trade-off between carbs and saturated fatty acids (where carbs act as a statistical \”confounder\”) can be a cruel misdirection that happens occasionally with imperfectly controlled previous observations. But (again), it is why biomedical science includes more than epidemiology. Dr. Berry’s saturated oils are on the verge of PUFA deficiencies. It can be a dramatic situation: I’ve found that the only way to cause atherosclerosis in dogs is to feed coconut oil as fat and no monounsaturated or PUFA. Apparently, a small amount of PUFA can be extremely beneficial for the heart. However, larger amounts are not harmful. Some studies suggest that a high PUFA intake can increase the risk of certain cancers. However, this only highlights the importance of eating monounsaturated oils like Canola and olive oil, as well as some PUFA-rich foods. Coconut oil and seafood are safe together. I don’t know any civilizations that consume a lot coconut oil without also eating seafood. Canola oil comes from rapeseed oils that have been bred without erucic acids and other potential toxic substances. It contains a high amount of monounsaturated fats and ALA, making it the best plant oil for human nutrition. Canola is better for frying than olive oil, as ALA will oxidize. However, Canola’s ALA can be very important for vegans, who need a plant oil that converts to DHA. Canola can be substituted with olive or seafood oil, but those who are unable to eat either meat or fish should look for a salad and baking oil that contains ALA. Canola is the best option for this. Linseed is difficult to digest and to work with. This leaves Canola oil as the best alternative omega-3 for vegans. Dr. Berry does not mention his concern about Canola oil beyond the fact that it is GMO. He is wrong, because it doesn’t need to be. Canola was developed in the 1970’s using hybrid techniques and not GMO. Although GMO Canolas are available today, certified non-GMO oils and \”organic Canola\” oils are also available. These are marked with a butterfly, and are tested to ensure that no GMO Canolas have crept into them.

The ONLY part of Dr. Berry’s article that I agree with, is to dump your hydrogenated products (Crisco etc.). In the trash. This is why I gave this segment a D instead of the F it would otherwise deserve.

Steven B. Harris, M.D.


Advertising can be misleading when it comes your health. You can be ruined by thinking that a particular cooking oil is healthy.


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