IN-DEPTH NEWS FEATURE:
Anyone who has been shopping lately knows how hard it is to find the right cooking oil. Many of us, including Fiona Tuck, nutritional medicine practitioner, stand in front of the shelves just gazing at the endless choices – canola, olive, avocado, and rice bran – the list just goes on-and-on. So, with so many choices which oil is the best for our health?
Well according to the myths, those oils that are well-known and loved may not be as good as first thought. According to a recent article published by Forbes based on data dusted off from five decades ago, switching from animal to veggie oil may not have been that clever. Sure, other studies have looked at oils, but the latest looks directly at heart health and consuming animal fat compared to corn oil. The results, astoundingly, say that animal oil is far better for health than vegetable. Well, in this case anyway.
1960s Research Dusted Off
Research gathered from 9,400 mental hospital and nursing home patients, published in 1989, found that switching from animal fats to corn oil was beneficial for cholesterol, but it did not show whether or not the switch had any effect on heart health.
Dusting off the research sometime later, the team at NIH-University of North Carolina decided to check-out the findings in greater detail. They re-ran the entire data set and stats, then rechecked findings just to be sure. Yes, vegetable oil contributed to lower cholesterol, but the people that ingested this oil have a significantly higher risk of heart conditions. Consequently, the team deduced that the original, incomplete data, led to misguided guidelines on what oils are better than others.
So, just what does Fiona Tuck have to say about this and other cooking oil myths? Let’s find out.
Fiona Tuck Looks at the Data
Just ask Fiona Tuck ‘The Myth Buster’ who has over 25-years of health and wellness industry experience as a Yoga teacher, nutritional medicine practitioner and skincare expert, about cooking oil, and she’ll blow those myths away in a single breathe.
“I agree that some vegetable oils such as corn oil may not be beneficial for health as once promoted. Some plant oils such as corn or canola oil blends can be highly refined, processed with heat or extracted with harsh solvents which can lead to oxidation of the oil. Combine this with plant oils that are high in omega 6 and you have the potential for these oils to promote inflammation within the body. Corn would be one such oil which would explain why animal fat is promoted over corn oil. Butter, for instance, contains importance fat soluble nutrients. Some plant oils, however, such as extra virgin olive oil have a heart-protective benefit due to their rich polyphenol content so not all plant oils are bad but corn oil, in my opinion, is not a good option.”
Other myths Fiona finds particularly controversial are:
Myth 1 – Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Suits All Cooking
“Olive oil is a class favourite and has been given a great rap by consumers and health specialists. The production process is natural, involves minimal levels of interference and it is processed at a temperature (30°C) that will not degrade the olive oil. With no chemicals or industrial refinement, it is easy to assume this product would be a great option for all your cooking needs, but the reality is olive oil has its limits. It is great as a salad dressing and perfect for bread dipping and drizzling over your dishes, but if you heat it to high temperatures, the vitamin E and polyphenolic compounds are compromised. Additionally, some olive oils are plant based and not pure olive oil so it can be a minefield out there to find one that is good quality.”
Myth 2 – Coconut Oil Comes in Solid Form Only
“Despite its health benefits, the coconut oil market is limited when it comes to convenience. Coconut oil has a melting point of approximately 23 degrees Celsius and remains solid below that temperature. The majority of coconut oils on the market cannot retain liquid form, making it difficult for portion size and consistency in cooking. CocoEarth has introduced Australia’s first Liquid Coconut Oil (LCO). The cooking oil contains only the healthiest part of the coconut and discards the long chain fatty acids that remain solid at a lower temperature. LCO is the only coconut oil in Australia to stay in liquid form in all temperatures without going rancid. To create convenience for consumers, the company also has cold pressed extra-virgin coconut oil available in cube form. Shoppers should not need to make the decision between health and convenience, particularly given the over-saturation of choice on the market.”
Myth 3 – Unrefined Oils are the Healthy Option
“The general consensus is that unrefined oils are best, but refined oil should not be disregarded. Refined cooking oil has a unique composition that can offer extended health benefits when formed through a non-chemical process, like expeller-pressing. Extreme pressure is used to extract the oil from raw materials such as nuts and seeds which can be used in place of external heat and chemicals. When these nut-based oils are expeller-pressed they become potentially less of a trigger for allergies. Picky eaters can also rest assured that oils such as coconut will not overwhelm their taste buds!
Myth 4 – When Cooking All Fat is Unhealthy
“People underestimate the importance of dietary fats. They play a vital role in a balanced diet and can impart a wide range of positive health benefits. For a long time, coconut oil was frowned upon for its high-fat content, but some fats are essential to a healthy diet. The trick to finding the healthiest option lies in the type of fatty acid. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a unique form of dietary fat that has a shorter chain length (six to ten carbon links) than Long Chain Fatty acids (LCTs). The short chain structure offers unique properties and advantages and is a key component consumers should be searching for on the label. These MCTs provide consumers with a natural energy boost that can increase vital ketones and strengthen a person’s immune system and metabolism. The accelerated rate of metabolic conversion means fat isn’t stored but converted into fuel for immediate use by the body.”
Myth 5 – Canola Oil Can Give You Cancer
“Although it is not the healthiest choice on the market, the claim that canola oil can give you cancer has no substantial evidence. There have however been numerous reports that link the genetically modified organisms (GMO) in canola oil to a number of health issues that affect the kidney, liver and neurological system. Over 90% of canola oil contains GMO, which means it is processed in an unnatural way that involves high heat, deodorisation and the toxic solvent hexane. Chemically or artificially enhanced products should not make the shopping list. Shoppers need to be extra cautious and know exactly what they are selecting off the shelf. Natural is always best, and it is important that the product you purchase ticks all the necessary boxes. The closer the product is to the source the better. Ingredients should be close to their roots and abide by organic and natural farming processes.”
What’s a Good An Alternative Oil?
So, with all these myths busted, what oil does Fiona recommend? According to Fiona CocoEarth’s Liquid Coconut Premium Oil contains more than 93% MCTs and is 1.5 times healthier than regular virgin coconut oil. It is 100% non-GMO, convenient to use and easy to digest. Its antimicrobial component, Lauric acid, can protect the body from harmful pathogens. Living up to its superfood name, CocoEarth’s LCO has proven to be great for weight loss, stress relief, memory retention and controlling blood sugar levels.
Giving this oil the thumbs up, Fiona makes looking for the right oil when shopping much easier. Plus, she helps people, just like you, make informed decisions about the fuel they consume based on fact not fiction.