Do You Want Some Toxic Oil?

GrapeOla

A reader sent me this picture of a bottle of Grape seed oil. They seem to imply that their oil is better than olive oil as it’s loaded with omega 6 PUFA and vitamin E. And most non-updated experts would likely agree.

However I’ll pass, as excess omega 6 seems to increase the risk of heart disease and excess vitamin E seems to increase mortality.

I’ll stick to the olive oil, thanks. Or some perfectly heart-healthy butter.

26 Comments

  1. Jeni
    It's still ok to take fish oil vitamins though isn't it ? :o
  2. Soren
    Fish oil is fine, yes. That's omega-3, not omega-6. Massive difference. If I recall correctly, what really matters is the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 which ideally should be at least 10:1.
    Reply: #6
  3. Leonie
    Do they specify if the vit e they were using was just alpha? Or did they include mixed gamma and toctrienols?
  4. robert
    Another industrial waste product turned into revenue - by selling it as "food".

    Just like "Crisco" shortening. It all started with cotton-seed oil and the candle-business going downhill in the early 1900s. Then came food processing and partial hydrogenation and they ended up with a solid man-made fat that was pushed onto housewives as ideal for cooking and baking. If it's good for making candles... it surely must be good for eating.

    A lot of stuff that should go onto compost heaps or into gas-producing fermentation plants ends up in our or our livestock's food supply.

    Reply: #9
  5. Dr. Jason Fung
    Excess Vitamin E in the form of supplements seems to increase mortality, not dietary vitamin E. Foods high in Vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, nuts, and spinach. Not too shabby a list, I think. It is critical to distinguish between the artificial formw of vitamin intake (be it calcium, vitamin E or folic acid pills) and natural intake of these vitamins. As you say, Dr. Eenfeldt - REAL food. Demonizing all Vitamin E seems contrary to your own message. I'll stick to olive oil and butter myself as well. Lard, as well - those healthy saturated fats!
    Reply: #7
  6. Francois
    The actual ideal ratio is one omega-3 for one omega-6. See Simopoulos AP: the importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, Biomed Pharmacotherap 2002 Oct 56(8): 365-79. Omega-6 is an important part of our cell walls BUTnot in any quantity. The American Heart Association, despite all evidence, still pompously states omega-6 is "heart healthy" - just google "meet the fats" and you'll learn about the dangers of trans and sat, the dangerous bad fat brothers, and you'll also learn that nice sisters poly and mono are ngood for you. Big organizations move very, very slowly and rarely state they were wrong. Too bad for those who follow their advice! This belief has resulted in advice and studies that killed many people. See Ramsden CE et al., Use of dietery linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sidney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. BMJ 2013 Feb 4;346:e8707
    In America, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is about 1 for 16-20. It is even higher in Israel (because the findings were contrary to the belief that omega-6 were good, the very high incidence of cancer, heart disease and degenerative disease in Israel was labeled "The israeli paradox"). In ratios such as those in America and, even worse, in Israel, omega-6 is highly inflammatory and promotes inflammation, heart disease and cancer. See Yam D et al., Diet and disease. The israeli paradox. possible dangers of a high omefa-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid diet. Isr J med Sci 1996 Nov; 32(11):1134-43
    So as far as fat goes, I personnally stick to butter (no pun intended), lard and bacon fat, coconut oil and red palm oil, and olive (and canola) oils. All the rest, I avoid: never any trans fat, no sunflower, safflower, corn or soy oils. And I vary my nut intake and eat more walnuts than almonds because of their specific ratios of omega-6 to omega-3. This gives me a very wide variety of fats and it is very tasty!
    I wholeheartedly agree with Dr Fung... Stay away of supplements if you can and stick to real foods. People taking supplements may easily go overboard and take too much - there may be a "U-shape" curve like that seen with alcohol, people may take a suppplement as an excuse to eat junk - you will never compensate a crappy diet with a supplement - or it may also have to do with the tri-dimentional shape of the molecule: a few years ago, researchers gave beta carotene supplements to smokers with the hope this would decrease the incidence of lung cancer. Unfortunately, those taking the supplements had more cancers. This study was done in America and in the Northern Countries and yielded the same results. It may be due to the fact that natural beta carotene as found in red, yellow and orange foods has a specific tridimentional shape: it turns to the right (called cis). Artificial beta-carotene turns to the right (trans form). One is the exact mirror image of the other. One promotes health, its mirror image promotes disease. Stick to real food: it's much safer.
    Reply: #21
  7. Demonizing all Vitamin E seems contrary to your own message.

    I'm not demonizing it, just saying that EXCESS amounts seem to be bad for us.

    Perhaps high-dose antioxidants mess up the body's own defenses, that use oxidants to kill bacteria and cancer cells...

    Reply: #10
  8. Ashley C
    What about using grapeseed oil topically? I've not heard much about it for cooking, but I see many people using it for a moisturizer for skin/hair. Curious of the Omega 6 is still as problematic when not directly ingested and not heated for food use?
    Reply: #25
  9. Glen0
    I'm surprised that grape seeds would be profitable enough to process regardless of their health implications. Perhaps there is some government subsidie that makes it worthwhile to process grape seeds instead of composting them. That wouldn't surprise me.
  10. murray
    It does not tell us anything to say don't eat excess vitamin E unless you say how much would be excess. Excess anything is bad for you. That is what it means to say excess.

    Regarding supplements, eating real food is plainly the more plausible working hypothesis as to sourcing healthy forms of nutrients. However, it is a hypothesis. Some supplements show great results in clinical trials, others do not. As Professor Lieberman points out (in his book being released tomorrow), we did not evolve to have optimal health on our ancestral diet, we evolved to successfully produce reproducing offspring. This implies a minimal health, but not optimal. We may need supplements to real food to achieve optimal. Fortunately, we have scientific method to help us discover the means, provided we maintain a critically informed open mind.

    Replies: #11, #13
  11. Daniel Ferreira
    you are making very little sense. you are over complicating something that doesn't even need to be complicated.
    Reply: #12
  12. murray
    The statement "do not drink water to excess" has zero information content--it is a tautology. The statement "drink according to thirst" has information content, because we have evolved feedback signals to consciousness, to ensure body water stays within a critical range for minimal health. We do not have such a mechanism for vitamin E, or for various mineral nutrients, such as copper, for example. We rely on collective diet-health outcome experience and science, and possibly supplements, to supply these nutrients within an optimal range. Various ancestral cultures were ingenious in discovering exotic foods to supplement basic diet in order to overcome chronic deficiencies (such as eating fish eyes--as a "supplement"-- to overcome blindness from insufficient retinol in one's diet). Sadly, in Western society, collective nutritional experience and science have done a poor job of it, as we have numerous concurrent epidemics of chronic disease. This in itself is evidence it is indeed a complicated problem--almost an inductive proof.
  13. FrankG
    I guess I'll have to read the book :-) But I am not sure that I accept the argument that "minimal health" is good enough to keep the generations going. It sounds akin to those who claim that evolution has only fitted us for reproduction (around 15 years maybe?) after which we are effectively expendable.

    Humans (like some other animals including Elephants) are social and cultural. We are not fit by pure instinct to survive straight out of the womb and take many years (decades even) to mature to a stage where we can be successfully independent.

    In the case of an Elephant family group, the Matriarch (who may be past reproductive years herself) is still essential to hold knowledge of last resort water and grazing in years of drought for example, or to school her daughters (and granddaughters) in child-rearing.

    In a similar fashion it has been demonstrated in human societies that: extended families, including Grandmothers, allow the Mothers to rear multiple children, at different ages simultaneously. Without this support (which surely requires more than minimal health) each Mother could only manage one child at a time, until independent.. hardly a recipe for World domination by our species.

    --

    I agree that "to excess" becomes a tautology and I do agree that much of culture and tradition is based on hard won lessons about how to stay healthy (including what to eat and when) but I wonder about an innate mechanism for detecting a lack of micronutrients? What is going on (for example) when a pregnant woman seeks out otherwise odd food mixtures at 2 in the morning?

    Reply: #16
  14. FrankG
    Again looking to Elephants as an example: jungle elephants would suffer from mineral deficiencies if they relied only on their day to day foraging but know enough to seek out minerals that they literally "mine" from the ground. Perhaps this is also "culture" as I mentioned above... passed down the generations but it seems like an odd behaviour, unless they were getting some positive biochemical feedback to keep doing it?
  15. murray
    Clay-eating is a good example. Yes, some animals can detect mineral deficiencies, but observe that the supplement is not food. One might take a potassium, magnesium or copper supplement (as is often recommended to resolve nutrient deficiency issues that often emerge when people switch to paleo or ancestral diets), which is a more scientifically guided way of eating clay. Of course, even when I was a kid we ate dirt, which presumably supplied minerals and symbiotic microbes which, many argue under the hygiene hypothesis, contemporary kids lack.

    Regarding evolutionary pressure, it is not minimal health to reproduce (your 15 year example), but to produce children that successfully reproduce, which requires longer-term health robustness and a cultural context. We can discuss how minimal that has been in the societies that have survived, but the principle that, over time, nature does not over-engineer has been a reliable rule of thumb.

    Reply: #17
  16. murray
    Good point. My wife craved eggs when she was pregnant, big time. Almost daily she felt compelled around 10:30 a.m. to take a break from work to go have eggs at the diner in the building next door. However, she had no clue what it was she (and the foetus) needed that drove her to seek eggs.
  17. FrankG
    I agree that there is no evolutionary drive to "over-engineer" but surely "good enough" could be defined as BOTH minimal AND optimal in this case?

    Arguably "over-engineered" is NOT optimal with the potential for greater complexity and higher associated costs.

    Is the glass "half full", "half empty", or "twice the required specification"? :-)

    Reply: #18
  18. murray
    But health is not an end in itself in evolutionary terms. So optimal health is not a direct requirement or outcome; it is one that we achieve by enhancing what we have evolved. For example, by eating grass-eating ruminants for some two million years, we lost the capability to ferment greens sufficiently to derive adequate amounts of vitamin K2. Why? Because nature does not over-engineer--the cost of maintaining the capacity did not yield sufficient return, so evolution favored allocation of metabolic resources elsewhere. As a result, we retained just a minimal capacity that gets us by in times of deprivation. However, in a modern context where we have vegan ideologies and other anti-red meat concerns and generally reduced access to vitamin K2 rich fats (with grain fed ruminants and fowl), we need to supplement vitamin K2. Even the ancients figured out that newly married couples, for example, should get the prized liver portions of grass-fed ruminants to enhance fertility and prepare for pregnancy. Some nutritionally minded physicians now recommend vitamin K2 supplements as the most important single step one can do to prevent heart disease (to enhance capacity to remove calcium from soft tissues, such as artery walls).
  19. Mark.
    The Cafe' du Monde in New Orleans uses cottonseed oil to fry their famous beignets and suggests that people buying their beignet mix do likewise. Both cottonseed and grapeseed oils are excellent fry oils -- excellent in that the fried food turns out very well, not so good for people eating it.

    Supposedly some fish and chip shops in Britain have in the past fried their wares in used motor oil, which I'm sure is far, far worse if not downright toxic.

    Reply: #20
  20. robert
    Clarified butter (ghee) is also excellent for frying all sorts of things - and it is edible. The same goes for lard and coconut fat.

    But as I've said before, some plant oils are derived from waste-products that should really be composted. Of course selling them as oils results in more money.

    It is natural for humans to eat animals and their fats, think of pork-belly or salmon. Quite a lot of fat in a good piece, but that's not a problem. Now grape-seeds on the other hand... it is natural to eat a few of them, as they're part of grapes. There will be a couple of them in say a hand-full of grapes, and you won't eat hand-fulls of grapes every day. Everybody who has bitten on a grape-seed knows that they're really not that oily. It takes quite a large amount of them to make a tablespoon of oil. Nobody could eat the equivalent amount of grapes in one go. So whatever is in those seeds, it is NOT natural to eat a whole lot of it - including the refined oils extracted from them. BUT, you can easily ingest spoonfuls of said oils, coming in fried stuff, salad dressings...

    These oils are best described as industrial lubricants, made by machines, for machines. Not living things.

  21. Robin
    It should be of importance to know there are different types of "Omega-3" & "Omega-6" fatty acids, which might make a ratio of total Omega 3/6 intake irrelevant. I usually break them down into "short-chain" & "long-chain" omega 3/6 fatty acids ("chain" referring to their molecular structure).

    Common Omega-3 fatty acids:
    * 18:3(n−3) - Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) - This is the short-chain omega-3 fatty acid, abundant in plants. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha-Linolenic_acid)

    * 20:5(n-3) - Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - This is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, abundant in animals & seafood. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eicosapentaenoic_acid)

    * 22:6(n-3) - Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - This is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, abundant in animals & seafood. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docosahexaenoic_acid)

    Common Omega-6 fatty acids:
    * 18:2(n-6) - Linoleic acid (LA) - This is the short-chain omega-6 fatty acid considered to be pro-inflammatory and contributing to heart disease, abundant in plants. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linoleic_acid)

    * 20:4(n-6) - Arachidonic acid (AA) - This is a long-chain omega-6 fatty acid, abundant in animals & seafood. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arachidonic_acid)

    There are more of these fatty acids but the above are the ones I see get the most attention. It is my current understanding that the human body primarily attempts to convert the short-chain versions of these fats to its long-chain versions before it can be put into building new cells or used in other "beneficial" ways. But I have also seen that this is not something we do efficiently as only a small portion of all the short-chain fats we consume gets converted.

    What about the rest of the short-chain omega 3/6 fats? Do we burn them for energy? Store as energy? Do we have other uses for them? Do we dispose of them via the intestines (poop it out)? Are they perhaps even causing harm? As for the latter question, this would make sense since we consume far more short-chain omega-6 today than short-chain omega-3, which in effect may incorrectly make us think it is only the omega-6 that is the culprit.

    As omega-3/6 ratios go, with the information I have read up on, as of now I would rather count the amount of short-chain omega-3/6 fat consumed and keep that a 1:1 ratio as close as possible, as well as keep the total amounts consumed in a reasonable amount (NOT in excess, even if it's omega-3). And not worrying much if not at all about long-chain omega-3/6 fat intake if the sources are non-supplemental.

    Just my thoughts. Would be interesting to see some material on the questions I typed down above.

  22. lisa
    I've read that you shouldn't cook with olive oil because it becomes a carcinogen when heated and removes all the health benefits. To quote what I read:
    "the process of heating oils can cause the fats to become carcinogenic; which means causes CANCER! Heating causes enzymes to be destroyed, proteins are denatured, fats become carcinogenic, carbohydrates (sugars) become caramelized, vitamins and minerals become less available, and water is eliminated."
    Granted, I took most of this as a bunch of junk science, but it still made me wonder. I don't like to use it too much just because it has a low smoke point and I actually don't like the flavor. I had also read recently that a lot of the olive oil you buy at the grocery store is not pure olive oil. Any other thoughts on a different oil to add to the mix.
    Replies: #23, #24
  23. Zepp
    On the other hand.. in the medeteranian region they have used olive oil for cooking.. befor Jesus was born.. and they dont seems to got more cancer by that.

    But they have probably learned how to cook without burning the oil?

    And did you know.. what was they using in old times for deep frying.. lard!

    There are no contradition on using differnt fats for cocking and real good food.. its altso a question on skills and knowledge in the kitchen.

    And to that.. burnt food are not that rewarding anyhow.

    Best fats for cooking is coconut oil and butter!

  24. Robin
    "the process of heating oils can cause the fats to become carcinogenic; which means causes CANCER! Heating causes enzymes to be destroyed, proteins are denatured, fats become carcinogenic, carbohydrates (sugars) become caramelized, vitamins and minerals become less available, and water is eliminated." - This is also what I've read. I am pretty sure the author of this text is talking about fats that are not tolerable for high heat, like polyunsaturated fat rich foods. The fats oxidize (and go rancid) when that happens and these are one of the types of fats we don't want to consume.
  25. Monter
    The skin is our largest organ. Anything you put on the skin is the same as if it was ingested.
  26. 1 comment removed
  27. Tim
    I think using the story of evolution to explain how we should eat is nonsensical. If the story of evolution were true there should be a continuous living line of creatures crawling from the swamps, with a living line, along with each 'transition', all the way to the higher life forms...or explain why evolution stopped.

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