1

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How bad is refined sunflower oil really?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM

I only cook with olive oil and butter at home but everywhere in cafes standard choice is sunflower oil. So, the question is as follows. Is it ok to have one meal a day that is quite likely cooked on it if I eat dinner at home and it's paleo or is as bad as I should do my best to avoid with as rigorously as gluten?

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on October 15, 2011
at 09:02 AM

I always ask what medium they use to cook and 8 out of 10 times, now, I find it is refined soybean oil. I ask them to cook in butter, some do, some refuse. The sad part was when I discovered in a fine restaurant, butter, was actually some kind of trans-fat disguised as healthy butter. Now I am extra, extra careful and like @Quilt go only if I know the chef.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on October 14, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Bacon fat is unstable?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 06:23 PM

We are not talking about excess here, but about sporadic exposure.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 06:22 PM

omega 6 is also essential, its unwise to remove it totally. The ratio is most important.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 03:06 PM

I might add that I've always been able to strike a deal and have never not eaten.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 03:05 PM

Agree with Quilt. I have an autoimmunity and vegetable oils are like playing with fire. Once you've crossed the line, you learn that it most certainly can avoided. I'll negotiate with a waiter or cook and if we can't strike a deal, I don't eat. Simple.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 02:40 PM

Jay, that's the trouble with excerpts and quotes. Everyplace you see those little ellipses in the text above, that means there is material that was intentionally left out for the sake of brevity but still left enough to get the point across. She goes into more detail.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 14, 2011
at 02:28 PM

Her account is simplistic but the sentiment is right. Avoid too much omega 6.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 14, 2011
at 02:27 PM

It is not clear that fish oil compensates for excess omega 6. The excess may be a bad by itself that cannot be corrected with omega 3. To be sure, getting adequate omega 3 is important but you should not think omega 6 is benign provided it is balanced with enough omega 3.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 14, 2011
at 01:22 PM

I agree with Beth. I wouldn't let that keep me out of all restaurants ever, but I definitely wouldn't make it a daily (or for me even a weekly) habit.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on October 14, 2011
at 01:11 PM

what do you mean by *ok*?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on October 14, 2011
at 12:43 PM

I avoid it....i only go if i know the chef.

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 14, 2011
at 12:10 PM

Very interesting about the brown flour.

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7 Answers

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 01:50 PM

I avoid it like it is radioactive. I used to be of the Paracelsus poison-in-the-dose mentality, but no more. Below are some excerpts from Catherine Shanahan's (Dr Cate) book Deep Nutrition -

*Vegetable oils contain mostly heat-sensitive polyunsaturated fats. When heated, these fragile fats turn into toxic compounds including trans fat. The heat sensitivity issue means that all processed vegetable oils, and all products that contain vegetable oil, necessarily contain trans fat. ... For the purposes of cooking we want to pick the kinds of fats that can take heat. On that count, saturated fats (present in butter, coconut oil, lard, and traditional fats) win hands down. Why? Because they can resist a kind of heat-related damage called oxidation. Thanks to their shape, saturated fats have no room for oxygen to squeeze in, and even high heat can't force these tough molecules to be more accommodating. Monounsaturated fats have room for just one oxygen molecule to sneak in. But it's not easy, so monounsaturated fat-rich olive oil is still okay to cook with. Polyunsaturated fat now that's another story. As it turns out, having two places where oxygen can react makes reactions not twice as likely to occur, but billions of times more likely. This exponential increase in reactivity is true of molecules generally, not just fats. ... The real trouble is not so much that there's bad fat in the bottles (and other products). The real trouble has to do with the fact that after you eat these distorted, mutated fatty acids, they can reproduce inside you. ... Their ability to damage normal PUFAs makes this class of oxidized PUFAs more dangerous than the trans fat we've all heard about on the news. Since they're a lot like trans, only worse, I call them MegaTrans. ... There are many technical names for MegaTrans, including peroxidized fats, lipoxygenases, oxidized fat, lipid peroxides, lipid hydroperoxides, and a few others. Think of them all as different gangs of bad fats. While some of these toxic fats are in the trans configuration and others aren't, that's not the point. The point is these toxic fats are all gangsters with one thing in common: They're really bad for you. They contaminate all foods with trans fat and, in fact, all foods made from vegetable oils. They're bad because they lead to the formation of free radicals, which not only turn normal polyunsaturated fatty acids into mutants; free radicals can damage almost any part of your body: cell membranes, chromosomes, other fats - you name it. ... The Reason Vegetable Oil Inflames Your Arteries - Free radicals are high-energy electrons that are involved in every known disease. They behave like molecular radiation, burning everything with which they come into contact, inside your body or out. In the frying pan, MegaTrans reacts with oxygen to generate one free radical after another. Frying in vegetable oils doesn't so much cook your foods as blast them with free radicals-fusing molecules together to make the material solid. Chemists call this series of reactions a free radical cascade. Free radical cascades damage normal PUFAs, turning them into ugly molecular ghouls (the Zombie effect), Just a little MegaTrans in the bottle of canola oil can become a lot of MegaTrans after you-or the cereal/donut/ frozen dinner manufacturers-cook with it. On the plus side, free radical cascades make your food extremely crispy. ... On the minus side, free radical cascades make your arteries extremely crispy. They will also damage other bodily tissues, which can generate inflammation, a kind of chemical chaos that interferes with normal metabolic function.*

And elsewhere -

Dietary imbalances rapidly generate inflammation and static that can take weeks or months to clear. So when people tell me they only eat junk food "occasionally," I try to help them realize that they're setting up a competition in their body that they're bound to lose. If you are struggling with weight, or have any chronic medical issue, you can't afford to ship fresh ammunition across the front lines to the enemy. That means no junk food period.

Sunflower oil is in that group. I'm extremely careful when eating out and I make no bones about it to the wait person. I tell them that they will see me lying on the floor with flashing ambulances outside if they give me something I can't have. Not true, but it does get their attention.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 14, 2011
at 02:28 PM

Her account is simplistic but the sentiment is right. Avoid too much omega 6.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 02:40 PM

Jay, that's the trouble with excerpts and quotes. Everyplace you see those little ellipses in the text above, that means there is material that was intentionally left out for the sake of brevity but still left enough to get the point across. She goes into more detail.

2
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 14, 2011
at 12:21 PM

I don't avoid eating out occasionally because of the heavy use of veggie oils in restaurants, but I would probably come up with another plan rather than eat out on a daily basis. For instance, I have some great nalgene bottles in 1oz and 2oz sizes (got 'em from the Container Store). I'll put a little mac nut oil and apple cider vinegar in them and then order something steamed and then put my dressing on the meal instead.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 03:06 PM

I might add that I've always been able to strike a deal and have never not eaten.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 14, 2011
at 01:22 PM

I agree with Beth. I wouldn't let that keep me out of all restaurants ever, but I definitely wouldn't make it a daily (or for me even a weekly) habit.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 03:05 PM

Agree with Quilt. I have an autoimmunity and vegetable oils are like playing with fire. Once you've crossed the line, you learn that it most certainly can avoided. I'll negotiate with a waiter or cook and if we can't strike a deal, I don't eat. Simple.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on October 14, 2011
at 12:43 PM

I avoid it....i only go if i know the chef.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on October 15, 2011
at 09:02 AM

I always ask what medium they use to cook and 8 out of 10 times, now, I find it is refined soybean oil. I ask them to cook in butter, some do, some refuse. The sad part was when I discovered in a fine restaurant, butter, was actually some kind of trans-fat disguised as healthy butter. Now I am extra, extra careful and like @Quilt go only if I know the chef.

1
9f187c931f7ce55d375ed5806e254aaf

(820)

on October 14, 2011
at 01:08 PM

I wouldn't cook with olive oil. It apparently has a surprisingly similar fat profile to bacon fat, very unstable with a low smoke temperature.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on October 14, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Bacon fat is unstable?

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 11:57 AM

Nobody can avoid that. Compensate with fish oil.

Its bad... at home its not THAT bad as in cafe but you can be sure that in cafes they will use it multiple times.

Its not uncommon for me to find rancid fat in any cafe I eat.

Its very rich in w-6 but I think you know that.

There is also cooking procedure called browned flour (this mixture of oil and flour is similar to product ROUX but cafe will not use butter) used a lot in specific countries to improve taste and satiety of various stews. You heat oil and then add 1-2 tbsp of white flour (=toxins) and grounded sweet red paprika, stir a bit, then mix with stew.

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 14, 2011
at 12:10 PM

Very interesting about the brown flour.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 06:23 PM

We are not talking about excess here, but about sporadic exposure.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2011
at 06:22 PM

omega 6 is also essential, its unwise to remove it totally. The ratio is most important.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 14, 2011
at 02:27 PM

It is not clear that fish oil compensates for excess omega 6. The excess may be a bad by itself that cannot be corrected with omega 3. To be sure, getting adequate omega 3 is important but you should not think omega 6 is benign provided it is balanced with enough omega 3.

0
61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on October 14, 2011
at 04:08 PM

I've made a game out of it. When I go to a restaurant, I only order things that i am sure contain no vegetable oil, MSG, wheat, or flour of any kind...I usually end up with a salad, but occasionally come up with something really good. Scrambled eggs, ham, and hashbrowns cooked in butter; a rare steak and potato or rice, broiled fish and steamed veggies...it's usually there if you look hard enough and ask questions. A far cry from my old go-to meal of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, lots of bread and a hot fudge sundae for dessert!

0
Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

on October 14, 2011
at 02:45 PM

If you eat at a restaurant every day, it's worth the effort to find one that will cook in (real) butter for you. In my limited experience, most will cook in butter if you ask them to.

Paleo is not a religion and compliance of 100% is not necessary for most people's goals, but every day really is way too much for a big dose of rancid omega 6.

0
C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

on October 14, 2011
at 12:09 PM

Be sure you're not allergic to sunflower oil. My sister-in-law found out that it's been what's giving her asthma attacks for the last 15 years or so.

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