Healthy Foods You Actually Want to Eat

Step #2: Nix the Rancid Oils

Rancid oils?  I check the expiration date–there are no rancid oils in my house!

That may be what you’re thinking.  But there probably are.  Any oil that is chemically extracted (canola, vegetable, sunflower seed, soybean, cottonseed, safflower, and many others are) is technically rancid before it ever hits store shelves.  These have been altered during the manufacturing process to keep them from smelling–the worst part is, our bodies have no idea how to process these unnatural oils.

Canola oil is probably the worst offender.  I nearly fainted last year when I received a long-awaited “healthy” cookbook in the mail, only to find that every other recipe called for canola oil.  One proponent,, claims that the oil is “good for every body!” and touts the FDA’s new claim that a tablespoon and a half of the stuff a day can reduce the risk of heart disease.  The claims usually revolve around the omega content and low levels of saturated fat.  But don’t jump on the canola wagon just yet!

According to nutrition expert Dr. Josh Axe, “Processed oils are extracted by high heat and pressure and the use of solvents. The fats in these oils are exposed to light and air, which oxidizes the fat (turns them rancid). The oil is then boiled to remove most of the solvent. The high heat and pressure destroy antioxidants and alter the chemical nature of the fat, creating dangerous free radicals. BHA and BHT, dangerous preservatives, are then often added to the oil to extend the shelf life.

“Hydrogenization is similar to homogenization: it is the use of agitation and pressure to create creaminess in foods and prevent separation. It involves the addition of a hydrogen atom.

“During hydrogenation, oils are turned into solid form for ease of use. Extracted oils are mixed with metal particles and treated with high-heat and pressure along with hydrogen gas. Emulsifiers are added to the mixture which is then steam-cleaned to remove rancid odors. It is then bleached and artificial dyes and flavorings are added.

“Trans fats are found in partially hydrogenated fats and oils. They are dangerous because they are incorporated into the body’s cell membranes and interfere with normal cell metabolism and other chemical reactions.

“Hydrogenated fats have been linked to:

  • Artherosclerosis
  • Birth defects
  • Bone and tendon problems
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Immune system impairment
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Learning disabilities
  • Liver problems
  • Low birth weights
  • Obesity
  • Reduced growth
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin reactions
  • Sterility
  • Vision reduction”

Pretty scary stuff.  One more note about canola oil–while olive oil comes from olives and peanut oil from peanuts, Canola plantthere is no canola plant.  The plant in question is actually a genetically modified rapeseed plant, Brassica napus.  The oil of the natural plant is high in erucic acid–it spoils quickly, gives the oil a bad taste, is known to be toxic and a carcinogen in large doses, and works great in industrial pursuits.  The genetically modified version has less of this acid but is illegal in parts of Europe.  So where does the name canola come from?  CANadian Oil, Low Acid.

If so many oils are heated and chemically processed, what kind of oil should we use to fry our foods, to moisten our salads and baked goods?  The answer lies with natural, unheated pressed oils.  Olive oil is wonderful, but a caution is in order–olive oil has a low smoke point.  When cooking with olive oil, if you see smoke rising from the pan, you’re heating the olive oil to the point that it, too, is becoming a rancid oil.  The solution?  Turn down the heat or use one of its heat tolerant healthy cousins, grapeseed or coconut oil.

The bottom line: Don’t believe every health claim you read; facts and statistics can be manipulated.  Natural and unaltered is always the healthier alternative.  Go with olive, grapeseed, and coconut oil instead.

Next post, we’ll learn an amazing non-food use for coconut oil.


Axe, Dr. Josh.  “Are You Eating Rancid Oils?”

Hardick, Dr. B.J., Dr. Ben Lerner, and Kimberly Roberto.  Maximized Living Nutrition Plans.  Maximized Living:  Florida, 2009.

“Where Does Canola Oil Come From?”

I can’t verify the anecdotes in this article, nor are all the sources sited correctly.  But these are some interesting thoughts on canola:


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