Cooking with vegetable oils can cause cancer, experts warn
Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases, according to leading scientists, who are now recommending food be fried in olive oil, coconut oil, butter or even lard.
The results of a series of experiments, reported by The Telegraph UK, threaten to turn on its head official advice that oils rich in polyunsaturated fats – such as corn oil and sunflower oil – are better for the health than the saturated fats in animal products.
Scientists found that heating up vegetable oils led to release of high concentrations of chemicals called aldehydes, which have been linked to illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and dementia.
A professor of bioanalytical chemistry and chemical pathology, Martin Grootveld, said that his research showed “a typical meal of fish and chips”, fried in vegetable oil, contained as much as 100 to 200 times more toxic aldehydes than the safe daily limit set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In contrast, heating up butter, olive oil and lard in tests produced much lower levels of aldehydes. Coconut oil produced the lowest levels of the harmful chemicals.
Concerns over toxic chemicals in heated oils are backed up by separate research from a University of Oxford professor, who claims that the fatty acids in vegetable oils are contributing to other health problems.
Oxford’s emeritus professor of neuroscience, Prof. John Stein, said that partly as a result of corn and sunflower oils, “the human brain is changing in a way that is as serious as climate change threatens to be”.
Because vegetable oils are rich in omega 6 acids, they are contributing to a reduction in critical omega 3 fatty acids in the brain by replacing them, he believes.
“If you eat too much corn oil or sunflower oil, the brain is absorbing too much omega 6, and that effectively forces out omega 3,” said Stein. “I believe the lack of omega 3 is a powerful contributory factor to such problems as increasing mental health issues and other problems such as dyslexia.”
He said sunflower oil and corn oil were now banished from his own kitchen, replaced by olive oil and butter.
The British National Health Service (NHS) advice is to replace “foods high in saturated fat with lower-fat versions” and warns against frying food in butter or lard, recommending instead corn oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease.
But Grootveld, of De Montfort University in Leicester, who carried out a series of experiments, said: “For decades, the authorities have been warning us how bad butter and lard was. But we have found butter is very, very good for frying purposes and so is lard.