For years we have been told that vegetable oils are better for our health than saturated animal fats. However, a study recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal questions whether polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in vegetable oils, like corn and safflower oils, fit the bill. After a review of recent research, professors from the University of Toronto and the London Cardiac Institute in Ontario have concluded that while corn and safflower oils, which are high in Omega-6 fatty acids but low in Omega-3 fatty acids, may indeed lower blood cholesterol levels, they may also serve to increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
The authors of the review hypothesize that the increased risk of coronary artery disease may be related to the rate of oxidation of these particular fats in the body, especially pronounced in study participants who were smokers and/or those who regularly consumed alcohol. These people, already under increased oxidative stress, appeared to exhibit a further increase in oxidation related to the intake of corn and safflower oils. An increase in oxidation leads to an increase in the creation of free-radicals and chronic low-level inflammation throughout the body, which in turn leads to a multitude of age-related diseases including coronary artery disease.
Better cooking oil choices include organic, cold-pressed canola or soybean oils. Better still are vegetable oils composed primarily of Omega-3 fatty acids, like flax, walnut, or hemp oils; these aren’t good for cooking but make great salad dressings.
You can also increase your Omega-3 intake by supplementing your diet with oil from cold water fish. You may get this by eating salmon, sardines, herring, true cod – any variety of fish that live in cold waters – or by taking a fish oil supplement. Be sure to look for supplements from manufacturers that test carefully for contaminants and heavy metals.