Vegetable oil is a triglyceride extracted from a plant. On food packaging, the term “vegetable oil” is often used in ingredients lists instead of specifying the exact plant being used.
Many vegetable oils are consumed directly, or indirectly as ingredients in food – a role that they share with some animal fats, including butter and ghee. The oils serve a number of purposes in this role:
- Shortening – to give pastry a crumbly texture.
- Texture – oils can serve to make other ingredients stick together less.
- Flavor – while less-flavorful oils command premium prices, some oils, such as olive, sesame, or almond oil, may be chosen specifically for the flavor they impart.
- Flavor base – oils can also “carry” flavors of other ingredients, since many flavors are present in chemicals that are soluble in oil.
Secondly, oils can be heated and used to cook other foods. Oils suitable for this objective must have a high flash point. Such oils include the major cooking oils – soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, peanut, cottonseed, etc.
- Improvement of Metabolism: The intake of vegetable oil, particularly olive oil, may increase metabolism in obese people, according to a study conducted in São Paulo State University, Brazil, and published in the October 2010 issue of the “Nutrition Journal.” As stated in this study, olive oil contains phenolic compounds, substances that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-blood clotting properties, which may possibly increase the body’s metabolic rate.
- Decrease in Risk for Heart Disease: Vegetable oil may decrease the risk for developing heart diseases, according to a study conducted in State University of New York, Buffalo, and published by “The Journal of the American Medical Association” in February 1990. The researchers of this study also observed that the factors associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as increased blood sugar level, increased blood pressure and increased serum cholesterol level, normalized in participants who included vegetable oils in their regular diet.
- Decrease in Risk for Breast Cancer: A study conducted in Universita di Milano, Italy, and published in the November 1995 issue of the “Cancer Causes and Control” suggests that the regular use of olive oil and other vegetable oils may be beneficial in decreasing the risk for the development of breast cancer. People who use butter and margarine, on the other hand, have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who use vegetable oils.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Vegetable oils, particularly flax seed oil, nut oil and canola oil, contain omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized within the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 plays an important role in the preservation of healthy heart and brain function and the normal growth and development of the body. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends the regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Cautions & Interactions
Trans fats are highly toxic and are associated with an increased risk of various diseases, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity (10, 11, 12).
They are so bad that even the governments around the world have started taking action, setting laws that command food manufacturers to reduce the trans fat content of their foods.
However, a little known fact is that vegetable oils often contain massive amounts of trans fats.
In one study that looked at soybean and canola oils found on store shelves in the U.S., about 0.56% to 4.2% of the fatty acids in them were toxic trans fats (13).
If you want to reduce your exposure to trans fats (you should) then it’s not enough to avoid common trans fat sources like cookies and processed baked goods, you also need to avoid vegetable oils.
Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetable_oil
Live Strong, http://www.livestrong.com/article/412988-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-vegetable-oil/
Authority Nutrition, http://authoritynutrition.com/6-reasons-why-vegetable-oils-are-toxic/