Vegetable oils are among the worst things you could put in your body that passes as “foodstuffs.” But why are vegetable oils so prevalent in our society and why are they so bad for us?
As part of our long-running series on foods you should and shouldn’t be eating, including foods that boost or lower your testosterone, we’ve considered some of the myriad ways that the modern world is conspiring to rob you of your health and vitality.
We’ve already seen, for instance, the awful effects of xenestrogens, ubiquitous industrial chemical compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body. In this article, we’ll consider a class of substance that is almost certainly just as evil as, if not more than, the pthalates and parabens that will make you fat and shrink your penis: vegetable oils. Despite being marketed as healthy, these oils are in fact almost single-handedly responsible for the health crisis that has engulfed the modern world. Will you take the redpill and see how deep the rabbit-hole goes? Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.
What if I told you that everything you’ve been told about dietary fats is a lie? What if I told you that the vegetable oil and unsaturated fats you’re told are healthy, by everybody from your doctor to your parents and your teachers, are in fact among the unhealthiest foods you could possibly be eating?
What if I told you that Morpheus doesn’t actually say those words in the first Matrix movie?
‘The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.’
The Vegetable Oil Matrix
Replace the word ‘Matrix’ with ‘vegetable oil’ in this genuine quote from the film and you’ve basically got a description of the role of vegetable oil in the modern world. Vegetable oil is ubiquitous in modern food, whether we’re talking about pet food or human food, and its effects have long been clothed in what amounts to the disguise of a collective Big Lie. Of course, where such a state of cognitive dissonance exists in the modern world, the profit motive is usually present too, and this is certainly the case here as well.
Most westerners are basically eating pet food all the time
In fact, as Dr Catherine Shanahan, in her fantastic book Deep Nutrition, points out, there isn’t really much difference between cat food and the processed food that makes up the majority of the diet of so many people in the developed world.
‘Take a look at the back of a bag of dog or cat food, and here are the ingredients you’ll see: corn meal, soy meal, (occasionally) wheat, partially hydrogenated soy or corn or other vegetable oil, meat and protein meal, and a few synthetic vitamins. But guess what? The animal pushing the shopping cart is buying foods with the same list of ingredients for himself. The main differences between donuts, breads, and Cheerios are the quantities of hydrogenated oil and sugar.’ (p.111)
We can dispense with the question of ‘why’ straight away: because it’s incredibly cheap and convenient. Imagine: here is a simple modular way of producing thousands, if not millions, of ostensibly different foodstuffs that can be stored for great lengths of time and sold in vast quantities. Turn the dials one way, you have cat food; turn them another, you’ve got Joe Public’s favourite brand of salty, crispy snack or bread.
But what’s wrong with this? If that kibble’s good enough for fido, why shouldn’t I be eating it too? We’re both mammals, after all; we can’t be that different, can we? This line of reasoning has made a small minority of people very wealthy indeed.
Eat the kibble, pleb!
But it’s also made the vast majority of people – and pets, for that matter – extremely unwell. In fact, you couldn’t really invent a worse diet for either of you. (A few months ago I started feeding my cat a raw meat diet of chicken, beef, organ meat and bonemeal and the difference in her health and behaviour has been astounding. But that’s another story.)
Let’s see just why vegetable oil is so awful.
Why vegetable oil is so awful
Although for many decades saturated fat and cholesterol were fingered as the principal cause of the West’s obesity and general health crisis, and although some still maintain that saturated fat and cholesterol are the devil incarnate, there is an ever-growing body of evidence that suggests that the real bad fats are what are known as trans-fats and oxidised polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).
How Vegetable Oil Rose to Popularity
The story of how saturated fat – the natural animal products man has sustained himself upon since time immemorial – and cholesterol came to be seen in a negative light is an interesting one; we won’t, however, relate it in detail here, but will instead point you to chapter seven of Catherine Shanahan’s Deep Nutrition for a detailed account. To put it briefly, the process had little to do with good science and everything to do with the personal arrogance and vengefulness of an uncredentialed imposter called Ancel Keys, who had designed the famous K-ration during World War II.
‘Physiologist’ Ancel Keys
In recent years, the ‘evidence’ behind Keys’ hypothesis that saturated fat consumption is directly correlated with heart disease has been demolished, and his jerrymandering and bad faith have been revealed. What is clear now is that, rather than saturated fats being the cause of the health conditions Keys claimed they were, it is the products he advocated instead, including margarine, that are almost certainly the real culprits. Interestingly enough, even Keys came to renounce his earlier ‘research’; although this has never been part of the public story.
In the table below we have listed, according to the new conception of fats outlined in Deep Nutrition, good and bad fats. What unites the bad fats is that they are all high in PUFAs and and/or trans-fats. All of these bad fats are derived, in some way, from a vegetable base; although spreadable butter includes animal fat, it also includes partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. You’ll notice that most of the good fats are solid at room temperature, while most of the bad fats aren’t.
|Good fats||Bad fats|
|Olive oil||Canola oil|
|Peanut oil||Soy oil|
|Macadamia nut oil||Corn oil|
|Coconut oil||Grapeseed oil|
|Palm oil||Spreadable butters|
In our recent article on foods to boost your testosterone, we’ve already discussed how saturated fat and cholesterol intake, in particular the consumption of eggs, is actually pro-anabolic, causing increases in testosterone and protein synthesis in the body. Low saturated fat intake is clearly associated with reduced testosterone, and consuming only egg whites is less anabolic than consuming whole eggs, including the cholesterol-rich yolk. [R] [R] Maintaining a proper hormonal balance is clearly associated with eating the right fats, and one very important way to begin reclaiming your masculinity is to do just that.
Without getting into serious details about lipid science, what makes trans-fats and PUFAS so bad is their inherent chemical instability, which causes them to wreak havok on the body’s tissues when they are consumed, through the production of free radicals. Free radicals are high-energy electrons that play a role in every known form of disease. They do this by altering the structure of more or less every molecule they come into contact with, a process known as oxidative damage. And while free radicals are actually used by the body as part of its own defence system, a diet containing the bad fats listed above can cause uncontrollable cascades of oxidative damage.
Although polyunsaturated fats, which tend to be liquid at room temperature, have important uses in natural biology, for instance in fish and plants and seeds, the process of extracting, refining and then using them, especially in cooking, distorts the molecules and makes them even more reactive and dangerous to the body’s tissues. The process of creating a vegetable-based oil is massively complex – and also revolting – and usually involves the application of high-pressure, heat and chemicals to produce a usable, long-life liquid fat. You can squeeze an olive to get oil, but you can’t just squeeze a piece of corn to get corn oil. The process of making ‘healthy’ canola oil is shown in the video below.
CAPTION – ‘FORTUNATELY FOR YOU, SMELL-O-VISION STILL ISN’T A THING’]
In recent years, consumption of trans-fats and PUFAs have been linked to:
- Inflammatory damage to the gut and microbiome, including leaky gut
- The transportation of toxins into the brain
- Damage to the arteries and blood vessels
- Immune system dysfunctions and nerve degeneration
- Damage to cell structure
- Damage to genetic material and increased rates of genetic mutation
Let’s take just the first and third of these bullets – damage to the gut and microbiome, and damage to the arteries and blood vessels – and consider a couple of studies. With regard to the first, a group of researchers compared the effects of different fats on the guts of mice under stress. Half the mice were given oleic acid, the principal component of olive oil, and the rest were given linoleic acid, found in vegetable oil.
The mice fed the olive-oil derivative did not develop lesions in the lining of the stomach, whereas the mice fed linoleic acid did. [R] In a study involve fecal transplants from normal mice and overweight mice, severe negative effects were seen in mice given transplants from overweight mice that had been fed vegetable oil. [R] This is a clear sign that vegetable oil damages the microbiome, which we now know plays an extremely significant role in overall health, including emotional and cognitive health (the gut is sometimes now referred to as a ‘second brain’).
With regard to the third bullet, one study has shown that more people died due to heart disease when saturated fat was replaced with polyunsaturated fat. [R] Another study showed that replacing saturated fat with safflower oil and margarine was associated with an increase in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality and morality from coronary heart disease. [R]
In a short article like this, we are barely scratching the surface. If you’re serious about understanding just how bad vegetable oils are, we suggest Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan, which we’ve referred to throughout this article. The book is replete with the latest evidence from lipid science and has the advantage of being elegantly and accessibly written.
In the meantime, now that you’ve taken the red pill, our advice is simple: clear your cupboards of all processed food and vegetable oils. It’s that simple. Given the ubiquity of vegetable oils, you’re going to have a hard time avoiding them totally, assuming you plan on going out and eating in restaurants and at friends’ houses, but reducing your intake to as close to zero as possible will be of enormous benefit to your long-term health and wellbeing.
Don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for personalized coaching and a client questionnaire if you’d like DEDICATED tailor-made personal training on strength training, building muscle, losing fat, developing athleticism, and more — all to your liking, lifestyle, habits, and taste!
Alternatively, you can pick up a FREE eBook on fundamental strength principles offering an introductory workout program.