What’s worse for your health than processed white flour, refined sugar, or high fructose corn syrup?
You might be surprised.
Let’s have a little look at our food supply in recent history, shall we? At the turn of the last century, corn and soybeans were fast becoming the largest crop grown in the US. When they started becoming by far the cheapest crops we were growing, thanks to government subsidies, marketing geniuses in the booming ag industry thought of a great plan.
This whole movement toward the use of polyunsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats, culminated a few decades later with the advent of the lipid hypothesis — the fraudulent claim made by one really terrible scientist that told everyone saturated fat and cholesterol were the cause of heart disease.
We all know how that’s played out.
Saturated fat is still demonized to this day, while consumption of unsaturated fats, especially PUFA’s, are encouraged by practitioners of mainstream medicine. And of course, we have more heart disease than ever.
What are PUFA’s?
PUFA stands for Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid. In chemical terms, that means that the fatty acid has more than one (poly) double bond in the carbon chain. They’re unsaturated because they’re missing out on what saturated fatty acid has — hydrogen atoms. That makes the bonds sort of incomplete, in a sense. So, imagine a chain of links that are sort of missing a joint or two, on each and every link — it wouldn’t be very strong or stable. Because of this instability, polyunsaturated fatty acids are very much prone to oxidation, which is basically getting their chain all kinds of messed up and broken, and causes problems with how your body reacts to the acid.
Um. Enough chemistry.
It’s really pretty simple. Because of their instability, and the negative effects on the body’s systems these oils have in excess, PUFA is bad. Saturated is rad!
Omega-3 and Omega-6
There are two main types of PUFA’s — omega-3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in fatty fish, shellfish, liver, and in some seeds like flax. They’re good for us in moderate amounts.
Much, much more prevalent however, are PUFA’s in the form of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-6 PUFA occurs naturally in small quantities in natural foods like seeds, nuts, legumes, and also in properly-raised animal products. (Except, we tend to raise animals amid poop-filled lagoons these days where they are fed the same crap that most people eat — a steady diet of PUFA-rich food which they can’t digest and makes them sick.)
The biggest problem with this omega-6 stuff is that our bodies just aren’t meant to handle much of it. Our fat cells are comprised of very, very little omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and are instead are made up of mostly saturated and monounsaturated fat. So when we start consuming the oils from these foods in concentrated form, instead of eating moderate amounts of the actual foods they came from, we wind up with a serious imbalance, and the various health problems that result.
Let me put it this way. When was the last time you sat down and ate a big bowlful of cotton seeds? What’s that?? Never!? Well, thanks to modern technologies of the food processing industry, cottonseed oil has become a common food, that you’ve more than likely consumed in disgusting quantities, right along with soybean oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, corn oil, safflower seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and aaaall kinds of these concentrated forms of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Why is Polyunsaturated Fat So Bad?
If you google “polyunsaturated fat,” you’re soon bombarded with the “facts” from mainstream medical sites advocating the use of PUFA over that dastardly artery-clogging saturated fat we’re all told to shun from our diet. But, those of us who’ve been educated from sources other than those profiting off of the food and medical industries understand that’s a big load of Metamucil’ed crap. They are onto something, though. Not all fats are healthy. So what makes polyunsaturated fat so inferior to saturated? There’s more to it than you might think.
DNA-Disrupting Inflammation and Free Radical Damage
The most widely-recognized danger of PUFA oils is the inflammation in the body caused by consuming it in excess. Lots of foods are somewhat inflammatory. And, that’s okay. A little inflammation actually keeps things like your immune system running smoothly. But when taken to the extreme, inflammation isn’t so helpful. High levels of inflammation have been linked to all sorts of serious issues, like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Excessive inflammation in the body from PUFAs happens because of the presence of free radicals formed in the processing of the industrial oils (like vegetable and canola), which renders them rancid. Free radicals are atoms with an unpaired electron floating around, which causes them to basically go nuts. These compounds attack cell membranes and red blood cells, and they even cause damage to DNA and RNA strands, leading to cellular mutations in the body’s tissues. In skin, it causes wrinkles and premature aging. In blood vessels, the buildup of plaque. In tissues and organs, it can set the stage for tumors to form. I think you get the picture. Free radicals are bad, bad news, and they’re ever-present in industrial PUFA oils.
Processing PUFA Oils from Corn, Seeds, and Soy
Free-radical forming oxidation of the PUFA happens when it is exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. Kinda hard to avoid that when you’re cooking with these fragile oils.
But before they ever touch a frying pan or a Frito-Lay factory, the PUFA oils are oxidized to oblivion just by the process used to manufacture them. As you might imagine, it’s pretty difficult to make oil out of things like seeds. People have been making oil from olives for thousands upon thousands of years, because it’s pretty easy — you squeeze it. Oil comes out. Squeeze a genetically-modified rapeseed and, well, you’re still pretty oil-less.
Factory-processed PUFA oils are created through measures of high heat and extreme pressure, exposing the oil to all sorts of oxidative damage, polished off with a good dumping of chemical solvents to get every last bit of that profit-producing oil out of the seeds, or corn, or soy. Some of the chemical (usually hexane) remains, and yet another chemical is added to deodorize the rancid PUFA oil’s stench. In that process, the small amount of omega-3 present in oils like canola, actually transforms into trans fatty acid. And finally, carcinogenic BHT and BTA are added as chemical preservatives, since any naturally-occurring preservative substances, such as antioxidant vitamin E which were once naturally found in the food, have been thoroughly killed off in processing. Yummy!
PUFA and Your Metabolism
PUFA oils have an absolutely devastating effect on the body’s metabolism. That’s because PUFA’s directly interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland, and also how well the thyroid hormones are able to be utilized, or metabolized, by the body. This type of interference with thyroid functioning is a major cause for a sluggish metabolism in the body.
Oh and remember that pesky inflammation PUFAs tend to cause? Well, that leads to a big rise in the counter-inflammatory stress hormones of cortisol (the “belly fat” hormone) and a weird thing called Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling (SOCS-3). That’s because those hormones come out to play when they start seeing things like Interleukin-6, which although it sounds more like the name of a sci-fi starship commander, is an example of an inflammatory molecule which are known to rise in direct proportion to the presence of omega-6 PUFAs in the diet. The stress hormones released as a result are a big, big deal. Why? Matt Stone of 180DegreeHealth explains:
It‘s significant because of all the factors that have been studied when trying to determine what causes leptin resistance (the hormonal state that makes your body think it‘s starving, keeping your metabolism subdued and continuing to try to store fat even if you have way more than enough already), the closest ties are to these counter-inflammatory substances.
So fat IS making us fat after all! Polyunsaturated fat, that is! You can learn a whoooole lot more about all this, and how to get your metabolism to a nice, healthy, fat-burning state in the book, Diet Recovery, which I highly recommend.
Modern PUFA, Modern Diseases
I’m fast becoming an avid collector of vintage and antique cookbooks. I have a couple that date back as far as the late 1800s. You know how everyone is constantly pointing to processed white flour and refined sugar as the be-all-end-all reason to why we’re all so fat and unhealthy in our modern age?
That’s a little weird to me, because cookbooks from the 1800’s still have white flour and white sugar in their recipes. Plenty of it.
People in the 1800’s did not have diabetes and heart disease like we do today. And they were eating white flour and sugar!
But you know what they weren’t consuming?
You won’t find any vegetable oil, shortening, or any major sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids in any of the recipes in those antique cookbooks. They were still using lard, butter, and other animal fats back then that came from farms, not factories.
The advent of industrial polyunsaturated fats in our diet is, without question, the single most prevalent change to our diet in recent history. We’re eating about the same amount of carbohydrates, about the same amount of protein, about the same amount of saturated fat, but over two-and-a-half times the amountof polyunsaturated fat, and climbing.
Oh and, wanna know another fun little factoid about how badly the consumption of these PUFA oils have affected us? Polyunsaturated fats actually accumulate in your cells and can be passed on from generation to generation. So, for over a century now, we’ve been experiencing the cumulative effects of all that excess PUFA on every cell of our bodies — inflammation, thyroid disfunction, leptin resistance and all. Thanks so much for switching to Crisco, Grandma! It takes years and years to flush out PUFA from your system, even if you cut your consumption of it right away.
Sources of PUFA: The Worst Offenders
Where they are, and what you need to avoid.
Hydrogenated PUFA in Processed Food Products
PUFA oils in their absolute worst form are those which have been fully or partially hydrogenated. This is a chemical process the factories use to make the oil solidify at room temperature, and make it much more shelf-stable. They start by adding tiny particles of toxic heavy metals which bond to the fat before it’s subjected to a highly pressurized hydrogen gas reactor. Soap-like emulsifiers and starches are squirted in there to give it the right consistency, before the solidified oil is steamed at extreme temperatures to clean out some of the weird taste. Then, the hydrogenated fat is bleached, dyed, and artificially flavored to make it resemble something edible. Oh, and they can still legally call this stuff, “All Natural!”
Another name for hydrogenated polyunsaturated fatty acids is trans fats. Bet you’ve heard of that one. The rumors are true — trans fats do contribute to heart disease and other major chronic health problems.
You’ll find hydrogenated polyunsaturated trans fats in just about any processed food, from cake mixes to granola bars, breakfast cereals to fast food fries, crackers, cookies, popcorn, you name it. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to make a habit of looking for hydrogenated PUFA fats on the label, before you indulge on your favorite processed goodies from time to time.
Industrial PUFA Oils in Processed Foods
Look for these industrial oils on the label of just about any processed food, and you’re sure to find them.
Here’s their omega-6 content by percentage of total calories. Keep in mind that we’re aiming for no more than about 4% of total calories in our diet to come from PUFAs.
- Corn oil: 54.5% Omega-6 PUFA
- Sunflower oil: 68%
- Vegetable oil (Look at the ingredients, there’s only one: soybean oil.): 51.4%
- Cottonseed oil: 52.4%
- Canola: 19.0% (and the omega-3’s present are transformed to trans fats from the factory processing)
Fake Versions of Animal Fats
Would you like some hydrogenated trans fat with your PUFA? Sign me up!
- Tub margarine (yes, that would be your favorite “heart-healthy” buttery spread): 33% PUFA, 4.3% trans fat
- Stick margarine: 21.4% PUFA, 26.7% trans fat
- Vegetable shortening: 23.7% PUFA, 12.2% trans fat
PUFA in “Healthy” Cooking Oils You’re Being Told to Use at Home
Also found in processed foods, but these are the oils that are praised as being so much “healthier” than saturated-based fats. Yeah, not so.
- Grapeseed oil: 70.6% Omega-6 PUFA (can I get a “holy-freaking-CRAP!?“)
- Walnut oil: 53.9%
- Sesame oil: 42%
- Peanut oil: 33.4%
- Canola: 19% (never mind the fact that it’s GMO)
- Olive: 9.9% (totally fine in moderate amounts, but the PUFA content is why it’s not the best choice for cooking due to oxidation)
PUFA in Actually Healthy Cooking Fats You Should Use at Home
Fats that are mostly saturated are what we really want to be using. Here’s how low these traditional fats are in omega-6 PUFAs:
- Butter: 3.4% omega-6 (find grass-fed clarified butter here)
- Beef Tallow: 3.1% omega-6
- Coconut oil: 1.9% omega-6 (find quality coconut oil here)
Factory-farmed Meat, Eggs, and Animal Products
You’re eating a nice burger for dinner, but what did the cow that your burger came from eat? Probably, a whole lot of nasty PUFAs in the form of soy, corn, and seed-based animal feed.
Factory-farmed, or CAFO meat and animal products are loaded with omega-6 PUFA. Here’s why:
What Should We Eat Instead?
To put it simply, we should be eating mostly real, natural food. By only using those actually healthy cooking fats which are mostly saturated, instead of liquid cooking oils, minimizing processed foods, and eating grass-fed animal products instead of factory-farmed, you’re pretty much covered in cutting out toxic levels of PUFA in your diet.
Does the ratio matter?
Some say that it’s not so much that PUFAs are the problem, but more the ratio of the different kinds, omega-6 and omega-3, in the foods you eat. You want to maintain a ratio of from 1:1 to 3:1. So, eating foods and supplements rich in omega-3’s can help boost that ratio in your diet.
But, for the purposes of sustaining a healthy metabolism, you should ideally be keeping your consumption of all PUFA to the minimum that you actually need. If you’re eating plenty of grass-fed animal products, decent amounts of seafood, and ideally some organ meats thrown in there, you probably don’t need to go out of your way trying to incorporate extra omega-3’s into your diet. You only need a little, and those foods will provide it, with a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. I don’t believe in supplementing with fish oils for omega-3. Sure, it’ll improve your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 PUFA, but it’s a much better idea to just cut out the foods which are high in omega-6 PUFA, eat natural foods which have an appropriate ratio, and leave it at that.
Do you avoid polyunsaturated fat in your diet?
Why do you think it’s important? Share in the comments below!
Diet Recovery by Matt Stone of 180DegreeHealth.com
Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 1909-2000, USDA
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
“The Skinny on Fats,” Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, Sally Fallon
1st: (altered from “CDHistory1-988” by USDAgov on Flickr), 2nd “dad_and_clint” on Flickr, 3rd personal, 4th USDA, 5th personal, 6th EatWild.com
Great article Emily! Definitely sharing on my Facebook wall. I reached the conclusion some time back that it’s primarily the PUFA explosion in our diets that set the stage for so many of the degenerative health conditions we see today.
It shows up in places many people wouldn’t think – like that whipped non-dairy topping in a tub … hydrogenated vegetable oil is the first ingredient!!! Arrrrrgh …. and I still know people who use it … sigh.
So important to become a label reader!
Thanks, Jacque! ACK — whipped topping — I was just thinking about that last night because my sweet mother-in-law made a little dessert that she put it on, and I tried to eat it because I didn’t want to look like a brat, but all I could think about was the nasty little particles of metal and chemicals and free radicals I was eating and my poor thyroid going, “nooooo!”…yikes! Haha! I scraped it off. 😉
That’s the HARDEST part about all of this, is eating food other people make for you!!!!! The problem is that it is SO hard for us to make good food anymore, I literally spend more time thinking about how to make good food than I do making it! Most of my family members don’t have time for that kind of thing, so when I visit I have such a hard time eating.
Aw I totally know the feeling, Tanya. But I really have been making more of an effort lately to just let that stuff go — I do the best that I can for myself in my own home, and try to be flexible, especially in social situations. The more time we spend thinking and worrying about this stuff, the worse off we are, IMO. Education is the most important thing, I think. Because I know how bad excess PUFA consumption is, I avoid it. But that doesn’t mean I have to be 100% perfect and never touch the stuff, you know?
Yeah, I know, I can’t be perfect, but I still want to be! It’s especially hard now that I’m living with family since I just graduated from school and I’m saving money up for a while. I’d say I’m not even 50% of the way to perfect. Eating out is also really hard, and my parents do it way too often, and since you have no idea what’s in the food I find myself eating very little of it. And then I don’t lose weight probably because I’m not eating enough. I really look up to you, and your articles are so GOOD! Thanks again for your writings!
Well crud! I’ve been trying to make the perfect mayo and after reading this post my organic sunflower & sesame oil mayo is not sounding so healthy! Should I just use coconut oil?
Aw man! Haha. Well, Matt actually specifies in his book that “high oleic” expeller-pressed sunflower oil is low in omega-6, at only 3.7%. That’s not the kind you most commonly find in stores and in processed foods, of course, though. But maybe yours is?
You could use a light-tasting olive oil, or even avocado oil, which is a little bit higher in omega-6 PUFA than olive but still relatively low for an oil at about 14%. (Avocados themselves are 9.4%). I’m not sure how well coconut oil would work for mayo since you’d want to refrigerate it and coconut oil gets rock hard when it’s refrigerated.
Woohoo! It is! It is! It is “high oleic” expeller-pressed that is 🙂 So, maybe just straight sunflower oil instead of mixing it with my expeller-pressed sesame oil? The taste of olive oil in my mayo so far is just no good… and I’m still looking for a good olive oil after all the “fake” olive oil blog posts, LOL! None of mine solidified in the fridge after hours of sitting there.
Oh great!! I think if you wanted to put in a little of your sesame oil in too for flavor, that’s fine. It won’t be oxidized like the highly processed oils are (since it’s expeller-pressed), and you won’t be cooking with it.
So frustrating about the olive oil thing, huh? Ironically, from what I understand, your safest bet is domestic olive oil, like from California. The Italian stuff is so commonly fraudulent that you really can’t trust it.
What is this about “fake” olive oils? I think I missed something!!!
Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf says
MOST olive oils marketed in the US are cut with cheaper, rancid oils (many not even olive!). This is a problem mostly with imported oils, and oils aren’t routinely tested to make sure each batch actually contains what the label says. Other sites can give more information on this problem.
In my small town, I can find on brand of real olive oil and it’s at Walmart–California Olive Ranch. I bought it a while back because it was the only one contained properly (colored glass), but soon afterwards found out it was the only one at my store that was genuine! Real olive oil will be GREEN. Yellow-green is fine, but orange-green is not. Also, it should taste peppery and acidic. It will also go solid in the fridge, and the bottle should list the harvest date on it. None of these are surefire ways to selecting real olive oil, though, since manufacturers have been known to add polyphenols back in for flavor, add chlorophyll for green color, and many seed oils are also high in monounsaturated fats, making them solid at room temp. Best bet is to look online and buy domestic.
Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf says
Orange-yellow* I mean. Duh.
Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf says
…and solid at FRIDGE*-temp.
Yep, you got it, Michelle. Pretty ridiculous that the real stuff is so hard to find, huh?
I get my olive oil at my local greek store. The owner has me buy what his family uses, and it solidifies in the fridge. I buy “Minerva Horio extra virgin olive oil” Made in Greece
how about pumpkin seed oil – i just ordered some, along with the avocado oil?
I noticed I am no longer getting emails when you post. Any ideas what might have happened? I just love getting your blogs : ).
Well that sure made my day! 😀 You know what, I heard a rumor that Feedburner (the service nearly all of us bloggers use to send out emails with each post) is shutting down. Maybe it’s already on its way out… yikes! If you subscribe to my newsletter instead, you’ll get an email I put out every weekend with my latest posts, coupons, and other stuff. Look for the blue button on the sidebar that says “free e-book” and you can type your email in right under it. 🙂
WIll do. Thanks.
Robin @ Thank Your Body says
This is awesome. One of the best articles I’ve read on PUFAs. This will definitely be my “go to” post to send people when they have questions. Great work, as usual. 🙂
Thank you so much, Robin!! 🙂
Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles says
Great post Emily! This is the Number 1 huge point I try to make to people when talking about health in person. Usually talking to people in “real life” 😉 you have so little time. I figure if they remember just this it’ll save them many health problems in the future.
Oh absolutely — if someone will do just one thing to improve their health, cutting out PUFAs is a great one! Thank you, Kathy!
Great post! That’s so true about the old recipes not using any PUFAs. I have some antique recipe books dating back to the 1850s and the only fats they ever call for are butter, lard, suet, and tallow. No “heart-healthy” rancid oils 🙂 And like you said, except for the occasional mention of whole wheat flour (aka Graham flour), molasses, and brown sugar, most old recipes still call for regular white flour and sugar.
Exactly!! Glad someone else has noticed this! Thanks, Lori!
What about lard from pastured pigs, chicken and duck fat? Is that too high in PUFAs?
I would totally use those fats where appropriate—yummy snow-white leaf lard for pastries, duck fat for french fries, etc. But I no longer save my chicken fat, like when I make stock, for example. Both poultry and pork fat are somewhat high in PUFAs (although I’m sure pastured versions are significantly lower in it than conventional), and I like the taste of beef tallow/coconut oil/ghee better, so that’s my preference.
Great post about PUFAS, probably one of the most concise yet informative that I’ve seen yet. I already cook with butter, ghee and coconut oil, and I used to look for Hydrogenated this and that on lables millitantly, but I’ve been a little lax lately and have been eat more crisps, which of course have always been cooked in one of these oils. I have to pick up the slack again!
Thank you, Laura! Yeah, I usually don’t advocate being super militant about anything when it comes to food, but avoiding PUFAs, especially hydrogenated ones, will go a long way in keeping someone healthy. If you’re gonna be a stickler about avoiding any one thing, that’s a good one to choose!
Penniless Parenting says
What do you do for salad dressings??? I mean olive oil is very expensive, and it doesnt taste good in everything, and other oils get solid when cold, which isnt good in things you want to eat cold…
I’ve been using sunflower oil, as I figured its better than soy oil, canola oil, and corn oil. I do use coconut oil too, but sunflower is my main oil. Is it really that terrible?
Hey Penny, see if you can find the expeller-pressed sunflower that’s labeled “high oleic” like the kind that Christina and I were talking about above. That kind has very low omega-6 PUFA content and would be totally fine to use. I use olive oil, but you’re right, the real stuff that isn’t laced with cheap PUFA oils is expensive, and hard to find.
So does that mean that “expeller-pressed” is better for you? A lot of the pre-packaged foods from Trader Joe’s that my mom likes to cook say “expeller-pressed soybean oil” and such…
I know I know pre-packaged foods, but she hates to cook. At least I’ve got her reading labels now!
Ehh… is it better? Yeah I guess, technically. The high-heat/pressure processing is what causes such extreme oxidation to the oils, so if it truly is cold-pressed, it would presumably be less oxidized. However, if it’s stored in a clear, plastic bottle, and then you cook with it, you’re pretty much oxidizing the crap out of it. But oxidation aside, the omega-6 PUFAs have plenty of other problems and really ought to be avoided as much as is possible or reasonable.
I’m rather irritated with TJ’s for having these gross oils in their foods! I unknowingly bought something from them recently that had loads of canola oil in it. Blech!
Lynn Grant says
This is an awesome article. I’m going to read it to my parents…..old school all the way. Dad’s up to 2 insulin shots a day and mom’s blood pressure is all over the place. Lots of animal fats and BECEL!! I have it, use it seldom, and won’t be using it at all after reading this.
No more BECEL!! Haha, yay! I hope you dump it straight in the trash. Thank you, Lynn!
I have been trying to keep out PUFA’s. I have also been reading up on Ray Peats Work and he talks about this quite a bit. For the longest time I stayed away from sugar, especially fructose, (even that found in fruits) because of what I had read in regard to how damaging it is to one’s body. All the while I wasn’t seeing any positive changes. Now I eat moderate amounts of healthy sugar. I feel much better, and I avoid the PUFA’s. Yay for butter, grass fed meats, and coconut oil.
That is awesome, Aimee!! Good for you for listening to your own body, and common sense, instead of blindly buying into whatever the health gurus are saying about the latest nutritional enemy. Sugar really isn’t the devil. (I can’t wait to see just how much hate mail I get once I publish my thoughts on it.) 😉
please do publish about sugar!!! Eagerly awaiting…
I really wish you would post one single scientific study to back up your point. Problem is, thousands of studies show over and over how bad saturated oil is. Only thing you said that has science base is omega 6 and hydrogenated oils. Too bad you had to take it way WAY beyond science and say that all polyunsaturateds are bad and saturated is good. Cause that is just bull. Also, where did we come up with this idea that people in the 1800s were healthier than us? They died in their 40s. They had no idea about heart disease or died too early for it to be an issue. I mean come in what makes people but into this extremely dangerous advice. It will likely kill you. Remiss me I the vaccination idiots. You should be sued for claiming to be an expert on a topic you know nothing of an leading people to their death. Hope you sleep well when you are laying in a hospital bed after your first heart attack and realize how many people are dying because they trusted you. Such garbage.
Eric B says
“When P.W. Siri-Tarino of the Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland examined 21 studies which included a total of 347,747 people, he found: “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease or cardiovascular disease.””
Billions of dollars of research, sample sizes ranging in the hundreds of thousands of people, all say: No significant evidence of a link.
THIS!!!!! Thank you, you did in 1 second what everyone else on this site failed to do, including the original article. If you can’t quote science, you have no proof, if you have no proof, you are just stating an opinion. Now there is a lot of science to show the folly of saturated fats with heart disease, a LOT. However if there does exist some to the contrary that I’ve never seen, I’m more than open to taking a look at them, seeing what journals they are published in and seeing if they are without bias and going from there. Thank you Eric for having your head on straight in this decision making process and not just quoting dribble as scripture.
Really? If low fat was the answer heart disease would have been diminishing over the last 20 years with low fat this and low fat that. It’s not and obesity is at an all time high because of people consuming
carbs instead of healthy fat. Look around you, what has low fat done for society?
This logic is just flawed…I’m sorry.
Low fat this and that is not a recommendation of any dietician that knows anything now days. Balanced, moderation of fat, with a very low amount of saturated fat, 0 trans fat (including hydrogenated oils), and the majority of it being naturally occurring unsaturated fat seems to be the best we have available. Loads of science seem to be backing this up right now.
And also, low fat has never been practiced by mainstream, even in the 80s when it was the “FAD”. Most americans eat close to 1500 calories of fat, and most of that is saturated. So no, it wouldn’t be gone because we don’t live that way. Also, heart disease is more about family history than what you eat, and any doc will tell you the same thing. Some people just have the gene that, if they live long enough, they will get heart disease.
Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles says
Wow, the tone of this comment turned ugly fast … Robert, if you’re interested in a discussion well then let’s all have one. If you’ve dropped by to suggest you would gleefully watch the writer of this post suffer a heart attack, well you can take it elsewhere. If it’s the former, I was able to find a couple of articles in the main stream media in support of saturated fat as a part of a healthy diet if you’re open minded enough to consider them. In them you will find numerous references to scientific studies disputing the lipid hypothesis:
Men’s Health Magazine – What if bad fat is actually good for you?
The New York Times – Good News on Saturated Fat
PUFAs aren’t all bad, they are needed in a healthy diet … we just need them to be non-hydrogenated and only at about 4-5% of dietary fat. Most people in western countries eat far more PUFAs than that and those PUFAs contain lots of trans-fats, the unhealthiness of is not in dispute by anyone.
As far as life expectancy goes, all the stats we have are skewed by infant mortality, which was quite a bit higher in the past, and also significantly higher in cities where better records were kept. Since it’s an average including babies people get the idea people used to commonly die at 40. Answering this objection would be a post in itself, but suffice it to say that people use life expectancy stats very flippantly without real understanding of what they mean. Here’s an interesting little rant on common misunderstandings using life expectancy stats.
quoting mew york times and men’s health is exactly the problem…people actually think the opinions of random authors is science. It isn’t.
As far as the life expectancy stuff…yeah, people didn’t live to their 70s very often, almost never. They definitely didn’t live to their 80s and 90s. Even if you control the study to exclude infant mortality, their life expectancy was much MUCH lower than ours. Quoting that a society who had 0 idea of what heart disease was had less heart disease is like saying we should eat happy meals and chicken nuggets because children have no heart disease. Both are equally ridiculous.
@Robert, chill out. You’re making this into a HUGE deal and it doesn’t need to be. I don’t see any articles supporting your claims! If you don’t agree with this, whatever, because everyone is entitled to their own beliefs/opinions.
This isn’t a matter of opinion. This is a matter of truth. There cannot be two truths about a given topic. In order to know the truth, we rely on evidence. To obtain evidence, there are studies done using statistical analyses to find cause and effect relationships. All of the scientific evidence thus far points to a decreased risk of heart disease from PUFA. Nothing stated in this article is supported by science. It is not a matter of opinion at all.
Most people died from complications to influenzas such as dehydration, diarrhea, etc., not heart disease.
It’s not the butter. 🙂
“During the twentieth century the primary causes of death in the United States changed. In the 1800s and early 1900s infectious (communicable) diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis, and diphtheria were the leading causes of death. These have been replaced by chronic diseases; heart disease, cancer (malignant neoplasms), and stroke (cerebrovascular diseases) were the three leading causes of death in 2003. (See Table 4.1.)”
Read more: The End of Life: Medical Considerations – Causes Of Death – Deaths, Disease, Aids, and Heart http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/3107/End-Life-Medical-Considerations-CAUSES-DEATH.html#ixzz24V13UmEn
Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles says
True Allie, so true …
no one ever said they people in the 1800s died of heart disease. I actually stated that they died earlier than us and never had the chance of getting heart disease. Chronic disease happens late in life. Very few 50 year olds have advanced enough heart disease for it to kill them. And most 50 year old people in the 1800s were in the ground.
Also, how do you know that most of them didn’t have heart disease? there were no blood lipid tests, not angiograms, no way of knowing whether they had heart disease or not. So odd to me that you don’t see that.
valary dreyer says
seriously? you need to read up on somesociological and medical history. death of young women during childbirth was the norm…or from complications thereafter. as well…ANTIBIOTICS were not available until the 1940s. almost every infection you have had that required antibiotics wouldhave KILLED most everyone else. that strep throat you have had a few times?? if not treated BY antibiotics attacks your kidneys….etc. just sayin. emily is right and there is a lot more that went on 100+ years ago that people eating REAL foods.
Seriously? you need to read what I actually said before you criticize me for something I did not say. But since you obviously need it let me make it crystal clear.
1. heart disease (and all other chronic disease like diabetes) are diseases of old people. People in the 1800s did not live to be old. Life expectancy was in the 40s, control for child birth related fatalities and you still are in the 50s. Therefore (and pay attention to this part) they didn’t live long enough to get heart disease. They died, of other things, before they got the chance
2. Even if they DID have heart disease, which is a very real possibility for those who lived into their 60s and 70s (a very small % of the population), they wouldn’t have had any idea what it was. They would have just died and called it old age. They say a lot in journals “his heart just gave out.” What exactly do you think that was? One probability, though not 100% of these cases, was heart attack (in their 60s by the way, early by our standard now).
Robert, you rely on science and food moderation(what is moderate)? What is science? Science is like our banking system, selfish,corrupt and bendable. I can do a scientific double blind study-gold standard- to the egg heads/ignorant believers. A study where people drink 25ml of beer a day i can then scientifically PROVE that alcohol doesn’t make you drunk! So stop whingeing about scientific proof-most of it is corrupted-certainly after 1970+
As for the fats, they may reduce chronic diseases by reducing chronic inflammation- however the mistake of this article is looking for the “magic bullet” that prevents chronic illness. This is wrong-to live a better longer life, one has to look at a multitude of things. Generally the idea is to eat raw unprocessed foods-yes organic vegetarian is best!(for all your science,read “The China Study”) Eggs are fine, meat and dairy should be less than 4%of your total intake. Why eat any oils???
Douglas Wallace says
I have the scientific evidence of my own body. I that I eat 15-20 eggs a week. Fried in liberal coconut oil, and I have beyond awesome cholesterol scores, i.e Triglycerides(fat in arteries) 31 [30-150(Optimal), 150-199(Mildly High), 200-499(High), 500 and above(Very High-Danger)…………..HDL Good Cholesterol 80 (they say you’re awesome if you can get up to 60,which supposedly is rare), and LDL 79 (they say you’re doing awesome if you get below 100, which supposedly is rare). It seems HDL/LDL of 80/79 says I’m nicely in balance.the proof is in the pudding dude. Or, shall I say the proof is in the mushroom 4 egg omlette………………..
Douglas, I am so thrilled to hear this! I have been eating a lot of veggie omelets and eggs other styles cooked in coconut oil. I’ve been trying to incorporate more grass-fed butter and full fat dairy into my diet. I’ve been using heavy whipping cream in my coffee for a while now. Would love to incorporate grass-fed beef into my diet might as well, although it’s very expensive. Seems like I’m on the right track. I’ve been reading a lot of good stuff about all of this.
Douglas Wallace says
That dying before 40 argument doesn’t hold water. Perhaps people didn’t live past 40, but how do you explain away children now getting cancer and diabetes? I read one researcher who said that in Colonial America, their diet was over 60% fat and they were not getting the diseases we are geting now, the one that you don’t have to get in old age.How do you explain cultures in the South Pacific, east indies and the like used highly saturated oils such as coconut oil and never had diabetes en-masse until they came in contact with western oils. I think if you really wanted to find the scientific evidence you would. I think you’re most scared of looking at this logically
Ok so I posted this on your facebook as well but…
I do believe what you’re saying because I do generally consider you a credible source, but I ALSO would like to see some other sources. I was completely surprised to hear that these PUFAs contain trans-fatty acids as a result of their processing. What about free radicals and oxidation? I just want to be able to cite sources when I tell people about these topics and they aren’t going to believe me when I say “I read it on a blog”. Do you have any credible sources for those things I mentioned above? Has there been any papers written about this? Surely not EVERY scientist capable of writing a paper is paid off by the food industry. Where did you read about these things?
Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles says
Hi Tanya … Let me see if I can help provide some support for future conversations. It’s well known that processed PUFAs contain trans-fat. For example on FDA site they have a page of info on trans-fats where they say:
A good source of info on the detail of the chemistry of fats is Mary Enig, PhD. You can find a list of her writings on the subject at the Weston A Price Foundation site. She is a recognized expert on the biochemistry of fats and oils.
I see, but wouldn’t these oils have to be listed on the label as “partially hydrogenated oil” or “hydrogenated oil”?
Maybe I misread it but somehow I got the impression that they were sneaking them in on us without listing them. Are my impressions wrong? Reading the article again, I can’t find where I got it from. Maybe I should sleep more!
I think the graph you put on your post says a lot on its own. Heart disease seems to be becoming more rampant. According to the graph from the USDA saturated fat consumption hasn’t changed much since the early 1900’s but polyunsaturated fat has been steadily increasing. So if saturated fat was the culprit than heart disease should be somewhat similar in terms of population, instead it has become a number one killer in the US. If polyunsaturated fats were helpful for our hearts or our cholesterol then as the consumption of those oils increases than heart disease should decrease, there is no such relationship at this time.
Here’s a book for your commenting gent to read: http://www.amazon.com/Know-Your-Fats-Understanding-Cholesterol/dp/0967812607
I have a question. I am almost 49 years old. I have been trying to change my diet and exercise habits in light of the information I have gleaned from articles such as this. My question is this. The changes I have made I know will lower my risk for health problems from here on out but if my health issues are due to an accumulated effect of a bad diet of PUFA’s that are now accumulated in my cells, is there a way to actually clear out all that junk from my system? Is changing the way I eat enough? Is there something more I need to do to try and reverse what has been done?
Hi, Bette. That’s a great question. There are some very simple dietary tweaks you can make that can go a long way in helping to clear out and counteract the damage from the PUFA in your cells. I’m working on a post about it right now. I’ll be sure to link to it once I’m done.
Here is the post about dealing with the effects of PUFAs accumulated in your cells:
I’ve heard chicken with skin,duck and other poultry are also sources of PUFA? However I like chicken drumsticks etc. instead of the constantly boring chicken breast:'(
I was wondering however…..I have a grillpan and heard that grilling requires no extra fat,but also subtracts fat from it’s source? Would that mean that the PUFA’s would (mostly) get distracted and still leaves one with a crispy skinned chickenleg or is it in the actual skin itself?
Great question. You’re right that poultry fat is fairly high in polyunsaturated fat. Straight-up chicken fat, like you’d get from pan drippings, is about 19.5% omega-6 PUFA, and duck fat is a little lower at 12.2%. Chicken with the skin on is supposed to be about 9%, while chicken without skin is only 1.4%. If I were you, I would just eat those drumsticks with the skin if you like them. 9% isn’t horribly high, and not high enough to banish something from your diet that you love. I personally don’t care for chicken skin, so I tend to take it off, but if you really enjoy it, I say go for it!
I just thought of a question and I was wondering if you or your readers might have some insight. I have been learning a lot about PUFA’s lately. I am a mother of two small children and I am still breastfeeding my daughter. I looked up the composition of breast milk to get an idea of what my child gets when she nurses and I noticed that polyunsaturated fat is a fairly large part of the makeup of human breastmilk. If PUFA’s are quite dangerous why are they such a large part of the milk composition, especially when we hear how great breastfeeding is for the baby? Are PUFA’s okay when you are a child only? I would love to get a better understanding of this. Thanks.
Hey Aimee, I think your source might not be accurate. According to the Self Nutrition Data site, the fat in breast milk is 45% saturated and only 9.7% polyunsaturated, with 8.5% from omega-6. And that’s data from mothers eating a typical American diet, I’m assuming, which is loaded with polyunsaturated fat. I would be willing to bet that breast milk from a mom who actively avoids PUFAs would have an even smaller percentage. It’s also important to remember that polyunsaturated fats which have not undergone damaging processing methods like industrial oils have, won’t necessarily be oxidized, which makes PUFAs far more toxic. Olive oil, for example, is at around 9.9% omega-6 PUFA, but when it’s high-quality, cold-pressed oil, it’s not likely to be oxidized and is still perfectly fine to consume raw, especially since the antioxidant benefits of olive oil outweigh the PUFA content, in my opinion.
Thanks so much for the reply. I am going to check my sources. That does make me feel a little better.
I understand your support of the concept of eating as early settlers ate for optimal health. Natural fats and such. I was wondering how your research either supports or negates the use of chia seeds. I use them to combat depression in lieu of SSRIs, and they’re supposed to provide excellent thyroid support as well. Obviously our ancestors weren’t downing these seeds, but indigenous South Americans were. What are your thoughts on these in terms of Omega 3/ Omega 6 content?
I’m not huge on chia seeds, personally. Plant-based sources of omega-3 are inferior to animal-based ones. That’s because the most prominent of omega-3 fatty acids found in plant sources like chia seeds is alpha linoleic acid, which is *supposed* to convert to DHA and EPA, but humans do a really terrible job of that. So it’s mostly wasted. And like I mentioned, I don’t see the need to go out of one’s way looking for omega-3 sources when you’re actively avoiding omega-6. You’ll get enough of it, in the right ratio, if you’re eating healthy animal products from quality sources, like grass-fed meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood.
“Factory-farmed, or CAFO meat and animal products are loaded with omega-6 PUFA.”
This is not supported by any research. CAFO meats have very poor omega-6:omega-3 ratios by virtue of a lack of omega-3 fatty acids, the difference in omega-6 content of CAFO meats vs. alternatives is quite negligible.
Hmm, well, as you can see in the graph I included, the omega-6 content of feed for CAFO animals is extremely high in omega-6, whereas the various types of grasses shown have very little in comparison. Not quite sure what the argument is you’re making here.
daniel debeer says
so at my restaurant i work at (and most in general) just about everything is cooked in clarified butter… so that is good right?? it makes fish, chicken, everything taste great,,, but all these fats are only good in moderation too, i guess. I was also wondering then.. is processed white flour and white sugar not as bad as we think it is?? and what oil would we want to fry a turkey in at thanksgiving.. i know roast is great, but those fryers cook them moist and delicious.. sorry about multiple questions…
Must be a really good Indian restaurant, right? I’m pretty sure clarified butter, or ghee, originated in India. That’s awesome that that’s what they use. Ghee has mostly healthy, heat-stable saturated fat and is perfect for frying. Would be delicious to fry a Thanksgiving turkey in! My opinion on saturated is that it’s not only good in moderation, it’s good in abundance. 🙂 Oh, and you can make ghee yourself in a crockpot: http://butterbeliever.com/2012/03/09/how-to-make-ghee-in-a-crock-pot/
Hoooh, boy. The white flour and sugar debate. I am definitely going to uh, go there, pretty soon. Preparing myself for the backlash. Haha. I will tell you here though that sometimes processed foods can be used as a nutritional tool to help certain conditions like hypothyroidism and poor metabolism. White flour is pure starch, sugar is sucrose. Both quickly convert to glucose, something your body does need. It’s kinda complicated, but I’ll fully explain myself soon when I dive into these topics… I’ll have a post for each. Thanks for your comment, Daniel!
The major concern I have with white flour and white sugar today (vs the 1800s that were mentioned earlier in the article) is the way food is grown today vs back then..wouldn’t the difference in farming and how plants are being modified to meet the mass needs of fast food manufacturers and cheap foods change the way in which our bodies are utilizing their nutrients?
Firstly, I guess I got lost somewhere along the way because it seems Eric’s link in reply to Robert’s comment supports Emily’s post – not as Robert interprets it as contradicting it. Forgive me if I’ve not followed. And Robert has done exactly what he’s accusing Emily of doing – stating an opinion without citing scientific references.
Anyway, I condemn Robert’s tone and condescension (why must we stoop to such impolite behaviour when someone simply states an opinion contrary to ours?) but as usual I think the truth is somewhere in the middle and no black or white thinking probably suits the ‘truth’ (and nor is their one truth anyway). I personally choose to avoid all industrial oil PUFA sources, largely for the reasons stated in this article, and obtain most of my fat intake from coconut oil, butter, avocados, wild fish and seafood, small-moderate amounts of nuts and seeds and small-scale production cold pressed olive oil, and notice an improvement in my health and well being for doing so. It’s not as simple as “saturated fat is good and PUFAs are bad” but I’m pretty sure that’s not what Emily is saying anyway. Experiment with your own body, how you feel, what works for you and perhaps even what lab tests tell you. No one’s forcing anyone to eat any particular way. Each to their own choice and may each bear their own onus in doing their own research and making their own informed choices. As I’ve stated before, we only ultimately have ourselves to answer to in the choices we make. So Robert, eat your PUFAs according to your view of the world, and Emily eat your saturated fats according to your view of the world and everyone else do what works for them according to their view of the world and lets all be respectful of others and their choice. Then let’s all have the class and humility not to note who dies or gets sick first and acknowledge we live in an imperfect world full of innumerable contradictions and complexities. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we know. Peace.
Slightly off topic, but what is your opinion on Hemp Hearts? Thanks!
Had to Google to see what hemp “hearts” are, but hemp seeds in general are extremely high in PUFA. Like 80%. They do have some omega-3, but it’s in the form of ALA which is essentially useless, like I explained in recent posts about flax seeds and chia seeds. If you really love them, eat them. Just be aware of the PUFA content and go easy on them, would be my suggestion.
OK, thats what I thought. Your blog has been a real eye opener for me. I knew about saturated fats being good (i’m an avid butter and coconut oil user) but I was sucked into the whole chia/flax/hemp seed stuff. I love reading your posts, thank you!
Thank you so much! Makes me happy to hear that. 🙂 I think you’ll notice that my food philosophy is a lot simpler than many others in the alternative nutrition world. I don’t buy into any sort of hype when it comes to food. Much more important to just understand what’s healthy and what’s not, and eat what you like!
All I can say is wow! And thank you! I literally had no idea just how dangerous and toxic these fats were. I shared your link on my blog. Again, job well done.
wow, i wonder how many nutritionists are out looking for you with pitchforks in their hands, ready to mount your head above the fireplace.
I can see why pufas are dangerous, but are they so dangerous if i were to eat them fresh from the source (BEFORE the oxidation and free radicals)
What about mufas, are they any better, I hope they’re not bad, because I like my nuts, and dark chocolate
About consuming fresh PUFA versus processed and oxidized PUFA— yes, absolutely there is a big difference between the two. In my opinion, industrialized (factory processed) PUFA oils are the only ones that need to be somewhat-strictly avoided. There is naturally-occurring PUFA in many healthy foods, even some that are way too high in omega-6 (many nuts and even avocados fall into that category), but unless they’ve been processed to death, there’s no reason to avoid it. Although, foods moderately high in naturally-occurring omega-6 that aren’t processed when they arrive in your kitchen (like chicken, especially the skin, bacon, or olive oil) but are cooked at a high temperature by you, should also be considered troublesome if they’re eaten in excess. For the most part, though, the only PUFAs I really worry about myself are industrial oils extremely high in omega-6 PUFA.
I will tell you though, that there are some who disagree with me on that. If you follow the work of Dr. Ray Peat, and others who subscribe to similar theories regarding PUFA, all polyunsaturated fats, and even monounsaturated fats, should be limited. Even foods high in omega-3! I don’t agree with this. Yes, unsaturated fats are inflammatory when eaten in excess, but Peat goes way overboard in considering this. He tells you to avoid things like berries (they have seeds which have PUFA in them) and fatty fish! I’m not on the same page, there.
So, regarding monounsaturated fats, like I just mentioned, some will tell you to limit those, as well. However, here’s the thing about fats— ALL fats are made up of a mixture of the three kinds: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. We classify fats/foods based off what type of fat constitutes the majority of their makeup— so that’s why I refer to industrialized oils as “PUFA oils,” since they are mostly PUFA, and things like butter or tallow as “saturated fats” since they are mostly saturated. I do not have any issues, really, with monounsaturated fat that is found in natural foods. Lard is actually mostly monounsaturated, and even has a good bit of polyunsaturated fat, but if it’s from a healthy pig raised outdoors on pasture, I’m all for it. Even though it is heated. Monounsaturated fats are more heat-stable and resist oxidation better than polyunsaturated fats. As for your nuts and chocolate and all that— go for it! Foods high in unsaturated fats should not be off limits.
Anyway. All that to say, natural foods containing any kind of fat are all okay by me. Factory-made, highly-processed fats are what you really want to avoid. But don’t freak out over it. I don’t think twice about eating a delicious side of fries, which were certainly cooked in rancid veggie oil, if I’m out at a restaurant enjoying the company of others. I just do my best with the food under my own roof.
Is all the damage made by PUFA long term only or are there some immediately observable effects?
Lindsay Comer says
Great Article! I’m trying to convert my family members to Saturated Fat (not easy!) Is there a good explanation as to why people get clogged arteries, etc.? Is it PUFA related? I think that’s the hardest thing to selling the saturated fats is all those people with clogged arteries who’ve been told to avoid saturated fats like the plague – it’s no wonder they’re confused.
Well anyhow, move over canola oil – I think I’ll opt for butter (and who wouldn’t!)
Jesica H says
There are a lot of comments, so I apologize if someone has asked already…but I didn’t see palm oil anywhere on your list. Where would that be categorized.
Palm oil is high in saturated and monounsaturated fat, relatively low in PUFA. It’s a pretty good choice, but I haven’t ever used it. Coconut oil works for me.
Sarah W says
What do you think about the use of alternative flours such as almond flour with regard to their PUFA content? It seems to be becoming a popular ingredient in many real foodie circles, especially those that limit grains. But I have read about concerns about it contributing to too much PUFA in the diet too.
Thank you for this article, the is so much information and mis-information out there, wading through it all, and trying to understand and apply it is overwhelming. What would you say about palm oil? It seems to be in just about anything and everything that is packaged. I know from an environmental standpoint it’s horrible – what it does to the rainforest and oraguatans is appalling. But what if it’s ethically produced and non-hydrogenated? I’ve heard that it’s like a saturated fat – so is that good? Very confused.
Max Gazzara says
Great write-up on PUFA! Easy to understand and great for people who don’t know about this stuff to read.
i’m sorry but if you mention butter you also need to mention lard which can have a place in cooking.
I personally do not use lard as a primary cooking oil because it is moderately high in PUFA. The recommendations in post are intended to illustrate fats which are at either end of the spectrum—very high in PUFA (to be avoided, even though they are considered “healthy” by mainstream medicine), and very low. Lard is neither.
Kira Yates says
Here’s a great article about krill oil opposed to fish oil. I think supplementing is a good idea if you don’t get enough omega 3’s in fish or grass fed beef, etc. http://www.metaboliceffect.com/the-supplement-expert-call-fish-oil-on-steroids/#prettyPhoto
How does Mcadamia nut oil stack up? I use real fats to cook, mostly animal fatss like duck lard, pork lard and organic ghee (or I make it myself), real butter, olive oil. Tallow is hard to come by in my area. I recently bought Macadamia nut oil to try becasue it has a higher smoke point then olive oil or cocnut oil. Id love to kee using it. So far Ive used it sparingly. Your thoughts?
greeat article, lot of good info, thanks a lot for explaining all of it!
I’m pregnant and was wondering about the prenatal vitamins (simalac) I take that have DHA with it. Is this safe? Should I even be taking this stuff for me and my baby?
It has been about 10 years since I gave up all forms of PUFA contamination (veg oils, cheap hotels, commercial biscuits, pastries etc) and along with that I have also totally given up taking my asthma medications. In fact over the last 10 years I only had 1 attack that too, after having eaten outside for a few days so was not following a regular PUFA free diet
The problem is it is very difficult to convince my family members or ANYONE for that matter that the real villain is PUFA oils and that coconut oil and ghee is actually good (in moderation of course). So sadly, I have given up expressing my opinion on this subject but am enjoying my new found health with less inflammation nonetheless
There does seem to be some logic with your claims
about PUFA…HOWEVER,it does seem to contradict the
anecdotal evidence by many thousands around the
world who have been cured from cancers with Hemp
Seed oil.Hemp oil is particularly high in omega 3,
6 and 9,but also contains trace elements of terpenes,
cannabinoids,methyl salicylate,along with other compounds.Hemp seeds are also quite small,and it would be of interest to know if the available hemp
oils use the same chemical process to extract the oil
If that were the case,it would seem unlikely that
this oil would achieve the results that it does.Many
more people ingest/apply topicaly as a general immune
booster and have done for years,claiming improved health and vitality,whilst others claim to have healed skin and other conditions using it.
How could this be possible,unless the benefits derived from the product far outweigh a chemical manufacturing process,or even supposedly high and
potentially toxic PUFA.There are also recent studies
that support its efficacy in this regard.With that
said(all verifiable with a little research),it leaves
us with more questions than answers,given your claims
re:PUFA would also be backed by scientific studies. K
Can you please tell me what you know about avacado oil? Everything I’m reading is telling me that it would choice for high heat cooking….that it’s low in pufa, high smoking point. But I saw a poster board from a blogger showing that avacado should be strictly for cold. The more I try to investigate, the more confused I get…so much conflicting information out there. I would really appreciate your insight. Thanks
I love your article and have avoided PUFA at all costs for the past year and a half and feel so much better! I also study the work of Ray peat who teaches the same…My question is…Please….
My kids are doing a science project showing how flax seed, corn oil, and canola oxidize over coconut oil and butter. We are running into a problem actually showing it. We have put oil on slides and left in sun as Ray says the PUFA will get sticky when exposed to sun. It did not for us. Then we tried a heat lamp and put oils under it and so far nothing. I;m thinking about putting on cookie sheet and baking to show the difference. Any suggestions?? It is due soon and we want to show everyone the truth and why we east as we do. Thanks so much for your time.
I will remain on a whole plant-based diet avoiding all processed oils for at least another 25 years till maybe there will be studies to verify all these diet opinions. There are somewhat healthy fat consumable in nuts, seeds and avocados without eating meat.
I think there are inflammation issues with PUFA for some – but I can assure you all that the articles suggestion that in the 1800s people ate sugar and wheat and did them no harm is a bit light on fact
Sugar consumption gave rise to some autoimmune diseases like RA that were only first diagnosed in 1801 – wheat has been modified hugely and now is a completely different challenge to our immune systems that the wheat in 1800s.
Comments about Americans eating saturated fat and this being the causes of obesity are also very soft… Don’t they eat loads of carbs and sugar too! If I am seen to pat myself on the head and stab myself in the leg at the same time – it is not the pat on the head that is making my leg bleed!
Julie hing says
Mind blowing information-will read this to my son.
Man and I thought I was doing so well with my healthy cooking! I’ve been using sunflower oil for months now after reading about how bad olive oil is for cooking. I also use ghee and coconut oil for various recipes, but sunflower was my hoop to (really cheap big bottle from trader Joe’s). Guess I’ll have to phase it out until I find out I’ve been misguided again 😛
Aw, dangit, haha. Sorry about that! I’d say olive oil is probably better than sunflower. Unless it’s high-oleic, which isn’t nearly as bad. Maybe double check yours, but either way I hope I don’t make you lose any sleep over this. 😉
What are good oils to use for salad dressings??
I don’t think you’re understanding PUFA’s very well. As for their health benefits – take a look at Japan – home of one of the lowest rates of heart disease. A diet of fish, rich in PUFAs, is good for you. The kinks in the hydrocarbon chains create more fluid membranes in your veins and arteries.
In fact, marine bacteria produce PUFA’s to keep their membranes fluid, such that, underneath all of the pressure at high oceanic depth, they don’t get crushed, or crystalized by the cold. PUFA’s promote heart health and low blood pressure.
As for their capacity to oxidize “PUFAs, including EPA and DHA, are cellular compounds that are easily oxidized when exposed to air or dissolved in organic solvents, because they have many bisallylic hydrogen atoms (19). However, in the aqueous system PUFAs are stable against peroxidation (5, 29, 54). In liposomes made of phospholipids, higher unsaturation of fatty acids leads to their higher oxidative stability (5). Although the molecular mechanism is not known, the oxidative stability of PUFAs, when they are present as mass substance (in the bulk phase), is entirely different from that seen in aqueous biological systems.” – Okuyama et.al. PUFA’s oxidize when exposed to air. In our fluid biological systems they are antioxidants…they help prevent things like cancer.
However, I will concede to the fact that it’s much better for you to cook with butter than it is to cook with olive oil (olive oil and most other oils are generally only healthy at room temperature – except coconut oil – that stuff is alright to cook with). Please look into any of the scientific articles online. The message is rather clear – You want a good heart, and, long and healthy life? PUFA’s are key, so maybe eat some fish or chia seeds every once in a while.
I don’t think you’re understanding this post very well.
The Japanese tend to eat a balanced diet. Americans do not. Humans are not biologically equivalent to marine bacteria.
I absolutely eat fish, more than every once in a while. But I think chia seeds are barfy.
what oils are best for searing vs baking etc..
What is top 3 oils?
‘…and eating grass-fed animal products instead of factory-farmed, you’re pretty much covered in cutting out toxic levels of PUFA in your diet.’
Well, according to Kerrygold’s (whose cows are allegedly 90% grass-fed) FAQ:
Q: Do Kerrygold butters and cheeses contain Omega 3, Omega 6 or CLA?
A: Milk from grass-fed cows contains higher quantities of unsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3 & 6) than milk from cows fed indoors.
So I guess my question is, what am I supposed to believe or follow? Common sense tells me that cows are meant to eat grass and that butter (and milk and meat) from a grass-fed cow must be the superior food, but allegedly grass-fed means higher unsaturated fatty acids? Or is there a difference between UFA and PUFA?
Thaaat’s… not exactly accurate. I really have no idea why KG would say that their products flat-out contain more unsaturated fat than industrial dairy products.
It’s pretty well accepted that grass-fed beef (here’s one study) and dairy contains more omega-3 than industrial dairy, providing a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Perhaps that’s what KG meant by saying their products contain “higher quantities of unsaturated fatty acids.” It’s also important to keep in mind that to most people, ALL unsaturated fat is “healthy,” even omega-6. We know that’s not really the case, but most of the rest of the health world is behind the times. To KG, they may want to present the idea that their products are just plain higher in all that “heart-healthy” fat, when really it’s the omega-3 that’s significantly higher in comparison.
Here’s the thing, though. Even if you were to choose industrial dairy, dairy in and of itself is not very high in PUFA. What we’re really trying to escape here are the foods which are LOADED with it—mostly industrial vegetable oils.
yeah we need a SF movie about what goes on in the body – your comment about Interleukin-6 initiated this idea……
actually the movie “what the bleep do we know” had a cartoon bit about things going on in the body esp in response to emotional issues and consuming wrong foods
Oh jeez. While I advocate that butter (and lard) are great additions to any diet, and hydrogenated vegetable oils are clearly terrible, I think it’s pretty far fetched to demonize the use of olive oil and peanut oils ( both of which have been used in oil form for cooking, for thousands of years by countries renown for their health and longevity. Olive oil and sunflower oil in particular contain vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant.. Which means that for purposes of consumption it would definitively counteract any oxidative effect it produces. If you were really going to avoid any food that oxidizes, you can rule out eating fruits and vegetables.. and meat and enjoy your diet of petroleum jelly and dubious canned goods… The prospect makes no sense at all. Of course everything is bad in excessive quantities – but I don’t think anyone is going out and chugging canola oil. Every nutrition textbook in the world will tell you that the best way to consume fats to ensure the healthiest body is to have a variety. That is some butter/lard along with some fish, along with (gasp) some olive or nut oils. Avoiding non-hydrogenated vegetable oils based on speculation and uncited sources.. Ridiculous.
I eat what I think is a pretty healthy diet, no processed food, a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but I also eat a lot of seeds and nuts. Should I be concerned about the seeds and nuts? A typical day includes an ounce of almonds, an ounce of pistachios, an ounce of pumpkin seeds, a couple of ounces of chia seeds, and a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter. I’m lean and active (5’11”, 160#), but wonder if I’m overdoing the nuts.
Do you eat them because you enjoy them? Or because they’re “healthy?” If it’s the latter, I’d probably suggest cutting back. But if you really love them, I don’t see much need to stress over it. The biggest thing I recommend avoiding is those veggie oils. And, I’d probably try to go slightly out of my way to include a bit more protective saturated fat (coconut oil/butter) if I were enjoying lots of PUFA-heavy foods on a daily basis.
We should only be eating raw nuts and seeds, never roasted. Otherwise, the fatty acids are toxic and inflammatory
Or we could calm down a little and eat moderate amounts of nuts that taste good to us, in whatever form that may be.
Laura Pattenden hunt says
What should we feed our 3 chickens because at the moment they eat corn and ‘layers pellets’.. :-/ so the corn probably contains puffas doesn’t it..? I don’t know about the layers pellets..? :-/ we eat their eggs so I want them to be healthy!
The amount of sugar we eat is that same as in the 1800’s? You’re kidding right? Average sugar eaten a 100 years ago was 4 pounds per person. Now it’s 160lbs! How can you take an article seriously with such a huge error?
You say that because of their chemical structure, polyunsaturated fats are the most unstable and most prone to oil rancidity.
1) Does this mean that when bought in the store, they are already rancid because of the exposure they have had to heat, light and air during the very processed used to obtain them?
2) Is it true that cold-pressed oils have a very short shelf-life because they are prone to quick rancidity? Why is this so?
3) Isn’t it true that to fry/cook it is better to use refined oils because they have a higher smoke point? Meaning that using “healthier” oils (mostly mono or saturated ones, like virgin olive oil or cononut oil) would be worse since they would become rancid faster than refined vegetable oils?
How about hemp seed oil? Really popular these days, but is it also PUFA?
Extremely high in PUFA. Something like over 70% if I remember right.
Laura S. says
I decided a long time ago to stick with what God created rather than what man thinks he’s improving upon and my health profile and lipid profile is much the better for it.