Blog July 2015
“WHY IT'S HEALTHIER TO COOK WITH LARD THAN SUNFLOWER OIL"
The best selling American seed oil is made from corn; in Europe, it's sunflower oil. Both of them are rich in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids.
After misleading us last week with his message that we still need to be reducing our cholesterol levels, Michael Mosley attempts to redeem himself this week with the ‘discovery’ that sunflower oil might not be as good for us as we thought.
This topic is important because today, the use of sunflower oil is pretty ubiquitous. You have only to read the label on potato crisps (or chips depending upon where you live) to see that about 30% of every mouthful is fat, and in Western Europe, that frying fat is invariably sunflower oil. In the US, it’s more likely to be corn or soy oil but it matters little, because all represent concentrated forms of Omega-6 (of which we eat too much) and being polyunsaturated fats, they all go quickly rancid as well as being inherently unstable when heated.
In today's Daily Mail, Dr Mosley says that, “Most people thought frying with vegetable oils is healthier”… which is unfortunately the distorted way that these things get written up. The truth is that doctors and nutritionists have been telling us for years that sunflower oil is healthy and that lard is bad for you. So it's hardly surprising that ‘most people’, also influenced by lobby groups working in the pay of the processed vegetable seed industry, have been moved to think the same.
Fat and cholesterol
There is an interesting link between the two topics of fat and cholesterol because so many recent clinical trials have shown that LDL cholesterol levels, except in the most extreme cases, are actually very poor predictors of heart attack risk. And eating more saturated fats is the only sure way of increasing your 'good' HDL cholesterol'… but, of course, there’s no money for big-pharma in that message so you won’t hear it too often!
As for Dr Mosley, he seems to be on a true voyage of discovery but I just wonder why he’s come to all this so late. For reference, here’s a piece from Dr. Mercola’s informative website posted 12 years ago on October 15, 2003:
“When you cook with polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as canola, corn, and soy oils), oxidized cholesterol is introduced into your system. As the oil is heated and mixed with oxygen, it goes rancid. Rancid oil is oxidized oil and should NOT be consumed—it leads directly to vascular disease.”
But let’s get back to Michael Mosley. Writing just one year ago on July 16 2014 in the Daily Mail, he said:
“Milk, cheese, butter, cream - in fact all saturated fats - are bad for you. Or so I believed ever since my days as a medical student nearly 30 years ago. During that time I assured friends and family that saturated fat would clog their arteries as surely as lard down a drain. So, too, would it make them pile on the pounds. Recently, however, I have been forced to do a U-turn. It is time to apologise for all that useless advice I've been dishing out about fat.”
But he seems to have forgotten that when writing in today’s Daily Mail and pre-selling tonight’s show: “Trust me, I’m a doctor” on BBC2 at 8 pm. His message:
“I am considering giving lard a try - and I never thought I would hear myself say that.”
The article has a serious side to it though because these vegetable seed oil, when heated can be particularly bad for you. He continues: “To understand why, we must look closely at what happens to fats and oils when heated to a high temperature. They undergo what is called oxidation: they react with oxygen in the air to form substances such as aldehydes and lipid peroxides.” And then quoting a Professor Grootveld: “We found that oils which were polyunsaturated-rich - corn oil and sunflower oil - generated very high levels of aldehydes”.
His angle is that this is revolutionary news but it’s not. It is simply not usually espoused by mainstream doctors and in that sense, I must admit that it’s great to see Michael Mosley bringing sensible eating advice in line with the available research findings.
The volatile compounds such as aldehydes produced when you heat these oils are hard to study because of their instability, but groups researching on animals have found that they cause inflammation. Research published in 2002 also found that aldehydes cause toxic shock in animals through damaging their gastric system. And researchers in Taiwan are studying the potential link between female cancer and stir-frying in unventilated spaces using these oils.
But there is a further solid scientific basis to be found in the work of Prof. Kummerow of the University of Illinois many years ago (he’s now over 100), where his team documented that heating these oils creates oxidized LDL cholesterol showing a direct link to heart disease. The problem, he said, is not LDL, the “bad cholesterol” widely considered to be the major cause of heart disease. What matters is whether the cholesterol and fat residing in those LDL particles have been oxidized.
“Cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease, except if it’s oxidized,” he says.
Oxidation is a chemical process that happens widely in the body, contributing to aging and the development of degenerative and chronic diseases. Fred Kummerow has contended for years that the high temperatures used in commercial frying cause inherently unstable polyunsaturated oils to oxidize, and that these oxidized fatty acids become a destructive part of LDL particles. Even when not oxidized by frying, soybean and corn oils can oxidize inside the body. This fits with the available research data showing that 50% of all heart disease patients have normal or low levels of LDL.
“You can have fine levels of LDL and still be in trouble if a lot of that LDL is oxidized,” according to Dr. Kummerow.
His conclusion? …that the saturated fat in butter, cheese and meats does not contribute to the clogging of arteries and is beneficial in moderate amounts in the context of a healthy diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other fresh, unprocessed foods). Now where have I heard that before? And by the way, Dr.Kummerow cannot remember the last time he ate anything deep-fried. He has never used margarine, and instead scrambles eggs in butter every morning. He calls eggs one of nature’s most perfect foods, something he has been preaching since the 1970s, when the consumption of cholesterol-laden eggs was thought to send you straight to the mortuary.
“Eggs have all of the nine amino acids you need to build cells, plus important vitamins and minerals,” he says. “It’s crazy to just eat egg whites. Not a good practice at all.”
So getting back to Michael Mosley: My message tis that if he’s truly interested in getting to the truth of this matter? Why not set up a meeting with the highly respected Professor Kummerow, even if he is a centenarian. Or perhaps because he's a centenarian… ?
More on Fred Kummerow at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/health/a-lifelong-fight-against-trans-fat.html
"FAT IS OUR FRIEND" ADVOCATES A DIET:
Sammy Pepys was the pseudonym used by James Capon when writing this book. He is not a doctor or a nutritionist but has studied nutrition and holds an MPH from Edinburgh University. Over the years, he has become increasingly suspicious of today's conventional wisdom about diet and health. When it comes to what we eat, he has helped many learn to eat more healthily.