You would think that something that is called vegetable oil would be good for you considering it has the word vegetable in it. Unfortunately vegetable oils do not contain vegetables. Vegetable oils are generally made from seeds, nuts and fruits. If you can brand a product with vegetable in the name it implies that the product is healthy even if there’s no vegetables in it. The Trades Description act obviously doesn’t apply here.
How many of us have bought a product because it advertises the fact that it’s been made with sunflower oil and therefore it must be healthier? Or maybe you choose a vegetable oil instead of lard because you believe a vegetable oil must be healthier than lard. I know I used to buy these products. But not anymore. I’m a dripping, lard and butter man now. And I have a heart condition, am I suicidal? Nope let me explain.
Is Vegetable Oil Good For You?
There are a number of vegetable oils produced in the UK with rapeseed oil and sunflower being the 2 most popular. Rapeseed oil is the 3rd most grown crop in the UK behind wheat and barley which is incredible considering it was unheard of here in the UK a couple of decades ago. None of us can fail to see fields full of pretty yellow blossom in early summer. I expect asthma and hay fever sufferers hate the sight of them though.
So is vegetable oil good for you. Well the answer is yes and no. It will depend how the oil has been produced. The expensive but healthy way is to produce the oil using the cold press method. The seeds from the plant are ground together to break them down, gently heated and then pressed until the oil is extracted. The heat is applied so the oil can be extracted. Unfortunately once you start the heating process the oil undergoes chemical changes which will lower the nutritional value of the oil and it will impair the flavour.
For an oil to be classed as cold pressed in the UK it has to be pressed at a low heat as governed by the EU. You can do this yourself at home with a cold press machine if you have £150 to spare and plenty of time to cold press the seeds. Or you can buy a bottle of extra virgin cold pressed oil from a supermarket for under a tenner.
Cold pressed rapeseed oil is high in Omega 3’s which give it an edge over other vegetable oils and sales of rapeseed oil are rising dramatically here in the UK. Celebrity chefs are endorsing the virtues of rapeseed oil too. If Jamie Oliver thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread then it must have something going for it.
The problem I have is that processed foods that are being produced with sunflower oil or vegetable oil (usually rapeseed) are not using the healthy cold pressed method because it’s too time consuming but most importantly it’s costly. I can assure you, that bag of frozen oven chips you’ve just popped into the oven is not made with cold pressed sunflower oil! It will be made with industrialized sunflower oil. As you can imagine the way this is produced is a little unhealthier.
Take 4 minutes to view the following video explaining how Canola (rapeseed oil) is produced for food manufacturers. Rapeseed oil is called Canola in the USA and Canada. Notice how the narrator refers to rapeseed oil as healthy. Unfortunately he forgot to mention that it is healthy if its cold pressed under low heat. But not when it’s processed like this.
It all seems pretty good for the first 2 minutes and then you see what they do to extract the oil they couldn’t get from the pressing process. Yep, they ‘wash’ it in a unnamed chemical solution which ‘extracts’ the oil. The remaining material is sold to farmers who will feed it to their cattle. Poor cattle.
Next up is the refining process. The oil is washed again in Sodium hydroxide for 20 minutes. Sodium hydroxide is a common ingredient in industrial solvents and cleaners and they use that to clean the oil. The next step is to ‘bleach’ it to lighten the colour and then steam it to remove the odour.
Hmmm yummy. So chemical solution to extract the oil, 20 minutes washing in another chemical, followed by a nice dose of bleaching and steaming. This method of producing vegetable oils has only been around for the last 30 years or so. So if this vegetable oil is healthy and it’s in so much of our processed food why are we getting fatter and sicker?
If you are an arthritis sufferer pour the vegetable oil away or give it to someone you don’t like. Buy butter and lard instead. I got rid of it and my arthritis continues to improve.