The rates of obesity and other health issues related to being overweight are currently at an all time high, especially among young people. And that’s not even beginning to address the plethora of other issues people are facing nowadays at much younger ages than in the past.
One of the major contributors toward these issues is the excessive amount of refined oils that we have been consuming in the past few decades, and it is only getting worse.
What Is Refined Oil?
The processed form of natural oils is commonly referred to as refined oil. It is obtained by treating natural oils with various chemicals in order to meet the expectations of the consumers. That is, being a specific golden color, which has a long shelf life and is also odor-free and color-free.
This process, however, results in an oil that isn’t that healthy. In fact, it can cause various health issues, including digestive problems as well as affecting the respiratory health of a human body. To make things worse, it can also be responsible for causing more serious issues such as diabetes, heart and kidney problems, cancer, among many others.
Here are a few disadvantages of consuming refined oil on a regular basis.
·It Causes Problems in the Digestive System
Sodium hydroxide is just one of the chemicals that is added to the oil during its refining process. It is very harmful, as the presence of this chemical in your body can have a major negative effect on your digestive system. In addition to that, the preservatives that are added to the oil to increase its shelf life are also bad for the human digestive system, as it can cause issues such as gastroenteritis, ulcers and even cysts or tumors.
·It Can Cause Respiratory Issues
The process of refining oils includes bleaching, de-odorizing, de-waxing, de-gumming and de-acidification. Due to these harmful steps, the chlorophyll content, taste and other nutrients in the oil are significantly reduced. Ultimately, this results in increasing the oxidation and rancidity in the edible oil. Consuming such oil over a long period of time can affect our respiratory system. The alveoli of the lungs get more oxidized than it is supposed to be over a period of time, while you may also experience many problems including less blood circulation to your brain.
·It Can Increase the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
In order to refine the oil, it is made to undergo processes that involve it being exposed to extremely high temperatures. These high temperatures remove all the natural substances from the oil that are actually beneficial for you. In addition to that, they also increase the content of the trans fats in the oil, which can be detrimental for your heart health. Basically, if you are regularly consuming refined oil, you are choosing to provide a slow poison to your heart which can later cause a blockage or even a heart attack.
·It Increases the Risk of Cancer
Another major chemical that is used to process natural oils is nickel. The presence of nickel has various harmful effects on the human body, including damage to the liver, skin and respiratory system. However, this isn’t even the major issue with nickel. In fact, the sudden splurge in cases of cancer can actually be attributed to nickel that is so commonly found in refined oils.
·They Are Basically Empty Calories
After all the nutrition and healthy fatty acids are removed from the oil, all that is left are empty calories. On average, most oils have about 100 to 120 calories per tablespoon. On a general basis, we consume much more oil than that. So all you’re doing by consuming refined oil is filling yourself up with empty calories that don’t do any good for your body in the short term, and only cause it harm in the long run.
There are various other issues that can be triggered due to a prolonged consumption of refined oils. These include different allergies, diabetes, ulcers, renal problems, arthritis, emphysema, infertility, hypoglycemia and premature ageing.
Therefore, it has become very common for doctors to suggest that you switch to unrefined oils that are cold pressed.
What Are Unrefined, Cold Pressed Oils?
Natural, unrefined vegetable oils that are cold pressed are much better for consumption. There are various reasons that these oils are a better option if you care about your health.
The process through which cold pressed oil is extracted does not involve exposing the seeds to harsh chemicals and high temperatures. Instead, they are extracted through a moderate pressure from nuts, seeds and vegetables that are organic, just like our ancestors have been doing for thousands of years. This results in them retaining their nutritional composition as well as their high flavor. Thus, these are much better for your health as compared to refined oils and also result in food that tastes much more delicious and flavorful.
The vitamins and essential fatty acids are also not lost during this process as they preserve their natural characteristics.
Here are a few reasons you should switch to unrefined, cold pressed oils as soon as possible.
·Full of Nutrition
As stated before, cold pressed oils don’t get treated by harmful chemicals and high heat. This results in them retaining most of the nutrition of the vegetables, seeds or nuts that they’ve been extracted from. Essential nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants’ phospholipids, lecithin and proteins can all be found in organic oils.
·No Harmful Chemicals
Various chemicals, such as Sodium, Hydroxide, Hexane, Sodium bicarbonate, Bleaching Agents, etc. are used to refine oils. Since cold pressed oils are a hundred percent organic, they are free of all these chemicals. Additionally, they also don’t contain chemicals such as BHT, BHA, Gallate and Propyl, which are used as preservatives to extend the shelf life of the oils. These preservatives are very toxic for your body. Especially if you want to avoid chemicals and prefer living organically, then this is a huge reason to make a switch to cold pressed oils.
·Boosts the Immune System
Cold pressed oils contain natural antioxidants that help reduce the radical cell damage in your body. They are also rich in vitamin E, which helps promote the body’s healing and anti-inflammatory responses. They are also rich in oleic acid, which helps boost the immune system.
Extracted using very less heat, cold pressed oils preserve all nutrition which helps promote weight loss. This is because it has low levels of cholesterol, making it easier for the body to digest it. However, if you’re planning on reaping the weight-loss benefits of cold pressed oil, then you’ll have to wait a little longer as it will take time for your body to adapt to organic oil after being used to refined oils.
·Helps Reduce Bad Cholesterol
In addition to being low in cholesterol themselves, cold pressed oils can also help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your body. This is due to the fact that cold pressed oils are rich in polyunsaturated fats. The bad cholesterol levels in your blood can be reduced with the help of polyunsaturated fats, while it can also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide some essential fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are necessary requirements of the body to function optimally, but can’t be produced by the body itself.
·Rich in Flavor and Taste
Aside from all the health benefits, cold pressed oils are also high in flavor. Refined oils are stripped of all of their taste, resulting in a neutral taste that has no smell or flavor. But that’s not the case with cold pressed oils. Foods that are cooked using cold pressed oils have a naturally inherent flavor and taste that would bring out the real taste of the food. This is why cold pressed oils are a staple in various cultures around the world, especially the Indian Cuisine, as they infuse the dishes with their own aroma and zest, instead of being passive like refined oils.
·Better for the Environment
Finally, by switching to cold pressed oils, you won’t just be benefitting yourself, but also reducing your carbon footprint on the environment. It is no secret that the fewer processed things you use in your daily life, the less damage you are doing to the environment. The process that natural oils have to undergo in order to get refined can leave a negative impact on the environment. Since refined oils are manufactured in mass production, it is very harmful for the natural eco system. So the more people switch to organic oil, the better it is for the environment.
Differentiating Cold Pressed Oils From Refined Oils
While going through the oil aisle at the grocery store next time, stop and examine the labels of various oils. Does it contain any of the following words on it?
All of these words are just a fancy way of saying that the oils have gone through a lot of chemical processing and high heat treatments in order to strip them off of their natural nutrients.
Once you’ve made a switch from refined oils to organic oils, it is a good idea to steer clear of any such products.
Instead, you should be looking for oil bottles that have the following labels:
These labels suggest that the oil hasn’t undergone any harmful chemical treatments, and has most of the nutrition still intact and preserved.
How to Add Cold Pressed Oils in Your Diet
The idea is to completely make a switch from refined oils to cold pressed oils that are 100% organic. However, making an instant switch may not be a good idea, as it may end up shocking your body and its internal system; especially if you have been consuming large amounts of refined oils for most part of your life.
What you can do to achieve best results is to make the switch slowly. Gradually decrease the amount of refined oils you use per day as you start to switch it to organic oil instead. This would allow your body to adapt to the new eating habits.
Eventually, you’ll come to the point where you’ve completely gotten rid of the refined oils in your diet and are completely dependent on organic oils instead.
Cooking With Organic Oils
Cooking with organic oils can be slightly tricky. But with a little practice, you can easily get the hang of it.
Most cold pressed oils can be used for cooking; such as olive, sesame and canola. However, they shouldn’t be used in large quantities or be exposed to high levels of heat. The oils don’t mix well with heat; which is the entire reason they are extracted without using heating techniques. Cold pressed oils usually have a lower smoking point, which makes them easier to burn. The unsaturated fats in cold pressed oil degrade as they are exposed to high heat. If used for sautéing or deep frying, the unsaturated fats may break down and become unsafe for consumption.
Hence, these can only be used for cooking with low to moderate temperatures. Oils such as olive oil and sesame oil are particularly great for sprinkling over salads and pasta, or used as dips for bread and other such purposes.
For cooking, it is better to opt for cold pressed avocado oil or coconut oil. They have a higher smoking point; which means that they don’t burn easily. Hence, they are better if you want to use it for frying or grilling.
Shelf Life of Organic Lives
As you know, cold pressed oils are free of preservatives. This means that they cannot be kept in your shelves for months like refined oils could. The maximum shelf life of cold pressed oils is 6 months. So it is recommended to consume it within 4 to 5 months of purchase. You can, however, keep it at its optimal quality by storing it in dark bottles and keeping the bottles in cold places (the refrigerators). Storing this way may even prolong its shelf life a little.