I mentioned last week that I don’t reach for chips, granola bars, snack mixes, or pretzels when I need a snack. One of the reasons is that the oil in these products is highly processed.
You may ask, though, “Isn’t is natural? It’s vegetable oil, or it comes from corn, or soybeans, or sunflower seeds, those are natural things? What can be wrong with that?”
Well, I’m glad you asked! Read on.
The oil used in packaged food DOES come from natural things, like corn, soybeans, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and rape seeds (canola), to name a few; the problem comes in HOW the oil is extracted. If you tried to press corn you wouldn’t get much oil. The same goes for soybeans. The oil we get from these plants is a modern product, a product of the industrial age. The ancient presses people used thousands of years ago to extract oil from olives would not give the same results with corn or soybeans.
You may be thinking, “God has given men creative minds and those men have come up with some fabulous inventions!” So what could be wrong with this invention that allows us to extract oil from corn and soybeans?
Well, simply the motivation. If the motive were to help mankind, they would do the proper research and see what effect this new invention had on the oil and on our health. Unfortunately, the motive was selfish, a way to increase the bottom line. With this new ability to use these vegetable oils, cakes and cookies had a much longer shelf life, thus opening up a whole market for packaged foods that didn’t exist before. These items made with the traditional fats like butter, didn’t last nearly as long and therefore could not be mass marketed.
When you eat an olive, you know that it’s oily, you don’t think of corn as an oily food. I heard of a fun experiment for kids once, to take a nut and rub it on paper to see the oil coming from it. I doubt you could do the same experiment with corn or soybeans. I know that corn and soybeans aren’t fatty, but I didn’t know for sure how much or little fat they had, so I did a little searching on the Internet and this is what I found. Corn oil is taken from the germ, one bushel yields 1.55 pounds oil (2.8% by weight). Soybeans are 90% water, 3% protein, 6% carbohydrate and ONLY .0018% fat! So you have to grow a LOT of soybeans to produce soybean oil! (Also known as vegetable oil.) The yield from olives will vary from year to year depending on many factors (as I’m sure it does from corn and soybeans, as well), but the range is from 10 to 30%! Also, my package of almonds says that the oil content is 50% (by weight), not sure how much comes out by pressing. So it seems I was right in saying corn and soybeans are not oily.
So how do processors extract oil from things like corn and soybeans and what is the BIG deal?
Dr. Don Colbert writes in What Would Jesus Eat? –
“Seeds are heated to high temperatures of approximately 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and then the seed is pressed to expel the oil. The oil in this process is unavoidably subjected to heat and pressure, which increase the rancidity of the oil.
Then, solvents—similar to gasoline—are added to the oil to dissolve the oil out of the grain. The oil is then heated to more than 300 degrees to evaporate the solvent.
In the next step, the oil is degummed, a process that removes most of the nutrients—including minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper, as well as chlorophyll, phospholipids, and lecithin.
By this time the oil has a yellowish tinge, so it is bleached at high temperatures, which cause more rancidity and more lipid peroxides to form. The damaged oil is then deodorized at temperatures of more than 500 degrees for thirty minutes to an hour.
The end result is an odorless, clear oil that appears sterile and pure, but is in fact full of toxic lipid peroxides that can cause significant free-radical reactions leading to cardiovascular disease and cancer.” (Emphasis mine.)
So we see that the big issue here is that in this process the oil becomes damaged and when we ingest it, it causes havoc.
Here is a prime example of something that WAS natural, but was destroyed by man and therefore isn’t healthy for us. Vegetable oils are in most packaged foods, especially frozen meals, chips, cookies, crackers, and snack cakes, which is one of the reasons why I have placed them near the bottom of The Ladder of Healthy Eating.
It is much better for your health to stick with traditional fats, things people have been eating for thousands of years, things that Jesus even ate, things like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and animal fats. These fats are very stable and there is plenty of research showing many healthy benefits. This is why you can make many of the things that you would find in a store, at home, from scratch and they will be healthier. Things like cookies and cakes. We obviously don’t want to eat these foods all the time, but if they are made at home with traditional fats, they will be healthier for you.
Remember the motto – If God created it, it is healthy; if man has adulterated it, it is unhealthy. Enjoy whole food and enjoy health!