In an attempt to lead a healthy lifestyle, many people attempt to move away from unhealthy saturated sources of fat, and to enrich their diet with heart healthy forms of fatty acids instead. Certain fats are essential for healthy living, contributing to proper brain function, the production of hormones, and the construction of health cells. The body cannot produce essential fatty acids on its own, which is why we need to be sure to get these fats from our diet. Without these fatty acids, the human body would cease to function properly.
This is why many people navigate their way through cooking oil selection by looking for “heart healthy” labels on bottles before purchasing them. But are these labels always truthful, or are they sometimes misleading us to use cooking oils that have not actually demonstrated any benefits for heart health at all?
The problem with most cooking oils is that the fatty acids that they contain are omega-6 rather than omega-3. In order to reap heart benefits, we have to make sure that we are consuming a delicate balance between these two types of omega fatty acid. And while most American diets are already rich in omega-6 fatty acids, most of us are lacking in omega-3s.
Moreover, a study published on November 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that, while research has demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improved heart health, it has yet to prove that omega-6 fatty acids provide a health benefit to the heart as well.
The study was authored by Richard Bazinet, a professor of Nutrition at the University of Toronto, and co-authored by Dr. Michael, a heart surgeon at Ontario’s London Cardiac Institute. Their research showed that omega-6 fatty acids may not only be useless when it comes to preventing heart disorders, but could actually increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
Corn and safflower cooking oils are specifically mentioned in the study, as they contain high quantities of omega-6-linoleic acid, rather than the omega-3-linolenic acid that is typically connected to heart benefits. Omega-6 is believed to be potentially harmful to the body when it undergoes oxidation in the body; this can occur due to smoking, alcohol consumption, and other factors that can increase oxidative stress in the body.
Moreover, while not many people rely on safflower and corn oil for their daily cooking, these oils are often found in popular commercial products, such as mayonnaise, chips, creamy dressings, and margarine. Despite the fact that there is no evidence that these cooking oils improve heart health, the Food Directorate has allowed both of them to be labeled as “healthy alternatives to saturated fat”. The authors of this study are now asking the government to reconsider this misleading form of labeling.
Instead, olive oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and coconut oils are recommended as the heart healthy foods of choice. These oils are higher in the omega-3-linoleic acids that has shown to reduce cholesterol, prevent atherosclerosis, and improve the health of the heart.
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