- Jessica Davis
THE SILENT KILLER IN YOUR DIET: POLYUNSATURATED FATS
Updated: May 16
Are we blaming the wrong foods for our health problems?
In this blog, I'll make the case that polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) - not saturated fats or even natural sugars - are the real culprits behind many of our health woes. PUFAs are found in common cooking oils like soybean, sunflower, safflower, sesame, cottonseed, corn, and canola oils (any of which can be labeled ‘vegetable oils’).
Studies have linked polyunsaturated fats to a variety of health problems, including inflammation, weight gain, cancer, and even weakening the immune system's function in ways that are similar to the damage caused by radiation.
>>> See for yourself how canola or “rapeseed” oil is produced in this video <<<
So why are these oils still so popular? Despite evidence that polyunsaturated fats are harmful to our health, they remain a popular pantry staple and are widely used for cooking in restaurants. One reason is that they are liquid at room temperature, allowing for faster/easier food production at a large scale (in restaurants). Another reason for this is that they are low in cholesterol, a substance that has been demonized for decades, even though it is actually essential for many vital bodily functions. As a quick reminder, cholesterol plays a crucial role in the formation of cell membranes and the production of hormones, and it is also involved in the immune system's response to infection and inflammation. Furthermore, one of the primary functions of cholesterol is to stabilize the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of the cell, which helps prevent their destruction under stress. Despite this, many people still fear cholesterol, and the food industry continues to promote polyunsaturated fats as a “heart healthy” alternative. Unfortunately, it all comes down to profitability and marketing. Seed oils (PUFAs) were originally used in the paint industry before being repurposed for animal food. These foods made animals fatter, and they were then promoted as foods for humans. Unfortunately, even after being linked to health problems, the marketing tools used by the oil industry, like the focus on cholesterol, have persisted. "Heart-Healthy" Oils: A Chemical Nightmare Cooking oils have undergone extensive processing with a range of chemicals that include solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach, and deodorizers, rendering them far from being "naturally" produced. The most commonly used solvent to extract oil is hexane, which is a neurotoxin and a toxic air pollutant that is a byproduct of gasoline production. Despite the possibility of hexane residue remaining in the oil, the FDA does not mandate that food manufacturers test for it. As a result, it is possible that we are consuming this chemical every time we cook with hexane-extracted oils. The extent of the harm is unknown, but it is clear that it is not considered healthy.
Are PUFAs the root cause of aging skin? In addition to the harmful effects of PUFAs on our overall health, they can also wreak havoc on our skin. Many people are concerned about the effects of sugar or dairy on skin, but as it turns out, PUFAs are the real culprit behind the glycation process that damages proteins and other cell materials. The fragments produced from the deterioration of PUFAs combine with proteins and create inflammatory substances that lead to skin damage and premature aging. Advanced glycation end products, which are often blamed on excess sugar consumption, are actually primarily derived from the peroxidation of essential fatty acids. In fact, studies have shown that lipid peroxidation of PUFAs produces protein damage about 23 times faster than simple sugars. So if you want to keep your skin looking young and healthy, it's crucial to avoid PUFAs in your diet AND in your skincare. Why Sugar Isn't Actually the Villain First, it's important to note that each and every single one of our cells runs on a sugar called glucose. Before I go too much further, I want to clarify that sugar that comes from processed junk food is in fact extremely inflammatory. That's because processed foods contain sugar that has been ultra-processed into substances that may no longer even be food in my opinion (high fructose corn syrup for example). It's also because when we eat junk food like this, it is highly unlikely that we are balancing our blood sugar with protein and fats to avoid extreme spikes and dips. But sugar itself (carbohydrates from fruit, root veggies, honey, pure maple syrup to name a few examples) is vital to our cellular functioning. When we restrict carbohydrates (sugar), we force our bodies through an inflammatory process called gluconeogenesis to MAKE its own sugar. It does this by breaking down your muscle and other tissues AND converting protein into glucose. This process causes excess stress which depletes vitamins and minerals at a rapid rate and it's a surefire way to fail at meeting your protein goal of 70-100 grams per day. Therefore, rather than avoiding sugar, it may be a better idea to ADD some natural sugars while removing PUFAs instead.