You may be under the impression that vegetable oil, safflower oil, corn oil, etc. are all healthy oils that should be used in place of butter and shortening for cooking and baking. In Canada, vegetable oils and foods containing these oils are allowed to suggest “a reduced risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels” on their labels. But a new analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal is questioning such a claim.
“Careful evaluation of recent evidence suggests that allowing a health claim for vegetable oils rich in omega-6 linoleic acid but relatively poor in omega-3 alpha linolenic acid may not be warranted,” stated the researchers. The researchers refer to a study published earlier this year in which saturated fat was replaced with safflower oil (high in omega-6 and low in omega-3). While cholesterol levels decreased, the rates of death from all causes of cardiovascular disease significantly increased.
This tells us two things. One, replacing saturated fats with these so-called healthy oils is not heart healthy. Two, lowering cholesterol is not an indication that your heart health will improve. (Now that’s an eye-opener for many.) Canola oil and soybean oil are higher in omega-3 than vegetable oil, safflower oil and corn oil, but they are also usually sourced from genetically modified canola or soy. For a great cooking oil, opt for olive oil, coconut oil, and yes, even butter. Skip the traditional vegetable oils, and be sure your omega-3 intake is adequate.