The Toxic Effects of Vegetable Oils

If you ever wonder why I rail so often about the destructive effect junk food has on your health, consider this: Even the "safe" vegetable cooking oils many restaurants use and the so-called health experts recommend accumulate high amounts of a toxin linked to heart disease and neurological disorders when heated and reheated for hours at a time.

The toxin in question -- 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE) -- collects in high amounts in polyunsaturated oils that have linoleic acid (also a factor in blindness), which include canola, corn, soybean and sunflower. However, HNE doesn't form in saturated oils coming from animal fat.

Although you may not have heard of it before, HNE has quite a toxic pedigree as a health threat documented in studies two decades old, according to the lead researcher. Some of the diseases associated with exposure to HNE:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson's
  • Alzheimer's
  • Huntington's disease
  • Liver ailments
  • Cancer

So what's the best oil to cook with? Many of you have probably gravitated to olive oil, and specifically extra-virgin olive oil. It is a monounsaturated fat and contains major health benefits due to its content of vitamin E and A, chlorophyll, magnesium, squalene and a host of other cardio-protective nutrients.

That said, olive oil is not the best oil to cook with, as it is highly susceptible to oxidative damage when heated. When choosing an oil to cook with, you will want to pick one that will not be damaged by high temperatures. An exceptional alternative is coconut oil, as it is abundantly nutritious and useful. Not to mention it can help you fight many diseases and illnesses.

HealthCentral May 6, 2005

International Herald-Tribune May 12, 2005

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