Vegetable oils: Are they good for you?

Vegetable oils have increased in popularity over the course of the last century; where they have been touted as healthy cooking options. Many health professionals consider them to be a healthy alternative to more traditional cooking oil substitutes like butter or margarine. Generally speaking, this tends to be true, but not all cooking oils are made equally. That holds true even amongst vegetable oils.

The health benefits of vegetable oils are highly dependent on their fatty acid contents, the plants they are extracted from, and how the extracts are processed. There are two types of preparation methods for oil:

  1. Vegetable oil is extracted from plants via the use of an oil mill or chemical solvent. They are then purified and refined; sometimes they are even chemically altered.
  2. Vegetable oils are prepared by pressing or crushing plants or seeds instead of being produced using chemicals.

Vegetable oil health benefits

Vegetable oils are thought to be heart healthy choices in comparison to other alternatives like, butter, saturated fat, lard, or tallow. This is mostly due to the fact that vegetable oils contain polyunsaturated fat which has been proven to reduce a person’s risk of developing heart problems.

Vegetable oils become unhealthy when they are overused. The recent few decades have seen a drastic increase in the production and consumption of vegetable oil. Eating too much vegetable oil can obscure the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 acids in the human body. Historically, the ratio should be about 1:1. But in recent years it has skewed to be 20:1 omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

This will lead to chronic inflammation, which is an underlying factor for many different diseases such as, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, etc. Eating too many omega-6 fatty acids can also lead to excessive weight gain.

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