I left off some well-known oils from the list of cooking oils on the post 9/25 and 10/2. Check those blogs out for information on seed and nut oils, avocado and olive oils, ghee and more.
If you find the following oils in your cabinet, I suggest that you toss them.
Canola is not the name of a natural plant but a made-up word, from the words “Canada” and “oil”. Canola is a genetically engineered plant developed in Canada from the Rapeseed Plant, which is part of the mustard family of plants. Canola oil is taken from the seeds of the canola plant. You may also have heard that canola oil is dangerous because rapeseed is a toxic plant. Rapeseed contains erucic acid, which is toxic to both humans and animals. Given a chance, animals won’t go near it.
The origin of canola, the plant engineering behind it, and everything from its mysterious approval by the Food and Drug Administration as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food in 1985 to its trans fat content has come under scrutiny. According to the Optimal Breathing website, the Canadian government was rumored to have paid the FDA $50 million for the GRAS approval rating.
The rapeseed plant has gone through an extensive breeding process to become the canola plant. Supposedly, the dangerously high levels of erucic acid have been bred out. But, there are some cons to pay attention to: Many types are genetically engineered and canola contains some trans fats. But, most important, it is extensively processed, which includes the use of hexane gas and deodorization.
Claims of several human health side effects from canola oil are loss of vision, disruption of the central nervous system, respiratory illness, anemia, constipation, increased incidence of heart disease and cancer, low birth weights in infants and irritability. Many of these have not appeared in medical journals, and long-term research has not been done to substantiate or refute the claims.
From 1986 until 1991, rapeseed was used in animal feed in England and Europe; its use was halted in 1991 when studies indicated health problems directly related to it. Problems subsided when it was no longer used.
As an industrial oil, it is used as a lubricant, as biodiesel fuel, in soap, in colored printing processes, and to make synthetic rubber. Before canola, Canadian rapeseed was mainly grown to produce lubricating products for ships. All vegetable oils can be used for these purposes.
Corn oil, like many vegetable oils, is highly refined through an industrial process of heating and chemical treatment to remove impurities and neutralize the flavor of the oil. Refining oil also increases its smoke point. For this reason, corn oil is nearly tasteless and can withstand cooking temperatures of up to 450° F, which makes it versatile in food preparation. More than four fifths of the fat in corn oil is unsaturated. Like canola oil, the majority of the corn crop (90 percent) in the U.S. is currently genetically modified. Although the “organic” label prohibits the use of GMOs, it’s nearly impossible to find organic corn oil, so if you are concerned about genetically modified foods, it may be worth using another vegetable oil instead.
Corn oil is also used in various industrial applications, such as stock for biodiesel and a constituent in the production of resins, plastics and lubricants, to name a few.
Despite being generally less expensive than other vegetable oils on the store shelf, a huge factor in its price is the staggering amount of subsidies the United States gives to corn to underwrite the cost. Corn is one of the most heavily subsidized crops in the country, raking in over $111.2 billion from the government between 1995 and 2017, according to data from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This subsidy on a basically unhealthy food undersells healthy choices. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the high consumption of foods derived from subsidized commodities like corn is associated with an increased risk of cardiometabolic disease in adults.
The problem with using corn oil and other vegetable oils for cooking is that they contain perishable bonds that create free radicals in the presence of oxygen. These free radicals can lead to cholesterol oxidation, which has been linked to an increased risk of diseases such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, retinal degeneration, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Corn oil also contains very high amounts of omega-6 fats, which can throw your body’s omega-6 to omega-3 ratio out of balance. Corn oil is reported to have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 46-to-1. This is a far cry from the ideal 1-to-1 ratio. The standard American diet already has far too much omega-6 in it, and the serious distortion of the ratio further increases your risk for many degenerative diseases.
Soybean oil is a major ingredient found in most processed foods, often appearing as the “partially hydrogenated” type on the ingredient lists of more heavily processed foods. Naturally, some 60 percent of the fat in soybean oil is polyunsaturated and about 23 percent is monounsaturated, but this high degree of unsaturation means that soybean oil would spoil readily with extended exposure to heat, air, and light. Most soybean oil is refined using chemical solvents and heat treatment that, like hydrogenation, tend to increase the amount of trans fats present. This makes the oil stand up to a higher temperature with an average smoke point of about 460° F. Trans fats are exceedingly dangerous to our health. Like canola and corn, the majority of soybeans produced in the U.S. are from genetically modified seed.
Studies on how soybean oil deteriorates show that soybean oil compared to olive oil oxidizes faster. Another study showed that heating soybean oil at 365°F for two hours led to the formation of 4-hydroxy-2-trans-nonenal (HNE). HNE is an oxidation product that has mutagenic and cytotoxic properties. Additionally, in a rat study, prolonged intake of re-heated soybean oil caused the rats to develop high blood pressure and vascular inflammation.
Of course, rats are not humans, and we should not to re-heat any oil. That said, fast food restaurants to use (or re-use) oil for extended periods.
The consumption of red meat has fallen over the past several decades while leaner poultry increases in popularity. Rates of sugar consumption, which is often a scapegoat for almost every health condition, have also been decreasing since the 1990. However, if we are looking for a possible dietary villain, then soybean oil consumption has grown by a significant magnitude.
Soybean oil is in almost everything on the store shelves today; not only as a cooking oil but also in salad dressings and processed foods.
Specifically, domestic consumption of soybean oil has more than quadrupled from 1,652,000 tons in 1964 to 6,576,000 tons as of 2016. If we go even further back, soybean oil consumption increased 1000-fold between the years 1909 and 1999.
Palm oil is extracted from the fruit of a palm tree and is 52 percent saturated, while palm kernel oil, taken from the palm seed, is 86 percent saturated. Its higher saturated fat content gives it a longer shelf life, so palm kernel oil is typically used in commercially processed foods. Almost 80 percent of the world’s palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. Rainforests have been devastated to make way for palm plantations. Sadly, this large-scale production is threatening the habitat of the orangutan, an animal that advocacy groups say risks extinction. In an effort to combat these effects, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has established criteria for companies to source sustainable palm oil. Products that comply have the RSPO certification.
Palm oil is sometimes added to peanut butter and other nut butters as a stabilizer to prevent the oil from separating and settling at the top of the jar. Palm oil is also found in many non-food products, such as toothpaste, soap and cosmetics. It can be used to produce biodiesel fuel, which serves as an alternative energy source.
Products labeled “vegetable oil” may be made from one or more plant oils and are often a blend of soybean and other oils like corn and canola. Although vegetable oils are high in heat-fragile polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), they are commonly refined for use in cooking and tend to have a relatively high smoke point of 440°F or greater. The ingredients in vegetable oils typically come from plants that are grown widely in genetically modified varieties, so if you’re concerned about GMOs, be sure to choose products labeled “organic”.
Our carrots are ready to be harvested!
Carrots are the most widely used root vegetable in the world. And, they are relatively easy to grow. Carrots are versatile in a number of dishes and cultural cuisines and come in different colors such as orange, purple, white, yellow, and red. The taproot of the carrot is the part of the vegetable most commonly eaten, although the greens can be eaten in salads and stir fries.
Most of the benefits of carrots can be attributed to their beta-carotene and fiber content. According to the USDA Nutrient Data, these root vegetables are also a good source of, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, niacin and vitamin B6.
High cholesterol is a major factor causing heart diseases, and regular consumption of carrots reduces cholesterol levels. Researchers during a study on thevalue of carrots found that cholesterol levels drop by an average of 11 percent if seven ounces of raw carrots per day are consumed for three weeks. A group of Swedish scientists also discovered that these root vegetables can reduce the chances of having a heart attack. Another study found that those who ate more carrots had one third the risk of heart attack as compared with those who ate fewer carrots.
Researcher Dr. Lindeboom found that a deficiency of vitamin A can cause some difficulty seeing in dim light, leading to night blindness. Since carrots are rich in vitamin A, a study to determine the antioxidant capacity of seven colored carrots also suggests they are good for improving eye health and preventing conditions like night blindness from developing as we age. Research has also found that people who ate the most amount of beta-carotene had a forty percent lower risk of macular degeneration compared with those who consumed the least.
A study published in the journal of Preventive Nutrition and Food Science in 2018 determined that carrots are good for blood sugar regulation due to the presence of carotenoids, Carotenoids inversely affect insulin resistance and can lower blood sugar, thereby helping diabetics. They also regulate the amount of insulin and glucose that is being used andby the body.
Carrots have antiseptic qualities and can, therefore, be used as laxatives, vermicides (poisonous to worms), and as a remedy for liver conditions. Carrot oil is good for dry skin, making it softer, smoother, and firmer.
Scientific research indicates that the coumarin found in carrots may be linked to reducingand protecting your heart. They are rich sources of potassium, which is a vasodilator and can relax the tension in your blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing blood flow and . This mineral also aids in boosting organ function throughout the body and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system.
Carrots contain a number of antiseptic andproperties that make them ideal for boosting the immune system. Not only that, they are a rich source of vitamin C, which stimulates the activity of white blood cells.
Carrots have significant amounts of dietary fiber. Fiber is one of the most important elements in maintaining good digestive health. Fiber adds bulk to stool, which helps it pass smoothly through the digestive tract, and stimulatesmotion and the secretion of gastric juices. Altogether, this reduces the severity of conditions like constipation and protects your colon and stomach from various serious illnesses, including colorectal cancer. Fiber also boosts heart health by helping to eliminate excess LDL cholesterol from the walls of arteries and blood vessels.
The organic compounds in carrots are good mineral antioxidants and they also stimulate the gums and induce excess saliva. Saliva is an alkaline substance and combats the bacteria and foreign bodies that often result in cavities, halitosis, and other oral health risks.
Eating a carrot every day reduces the risk of stroke by 68 percent. Many studies have strengthened the belief in the “carrot effect” on the brain. Lutein, a carotenoid present in carrots, has been positively linked to improved brain health, according to a study conducted by the researchers at The University of Illinois. Studies conducted on stroke patients revealed that those with the highest levels of beta-carotene also had the highest survival rate.
How to Buy
Baby carrots are not simply infant carrots picked before reaching maturity. The size of these carrots has little to do with their age and actually results from the processing of whole carrots.
The initial production of baby carrots was an attempt to reduce waste. In the 1980’s, a carrot farmer named Mike Yurosek gathered up broken or unshapely carrots deemed “unworthy” of selling. He peeled and shaped these carrots into smaller chunks so they could be sold. This process gave birth to the baby carrots that we get packaged at the store today.
Baby carrots are ready to eat, meaning they don’t require any washing or preparing on your part. This is because manufacturers do all the dirty work. Before they are sold, baby carrots actually go for a swim in a diluted chlorine and water solution. The purpose of this bath is to eliminate any food-borne illnesses. I would wash them again to get rid of any chlorine residue.
Buy ORGANIC! Organic carrots are raised without the use of pesticides. This allows them to soak up nutrients from the soil without absorbing any unwanted chemicals. When you choose the organic variety, you’ll get more nutrients and less chemicals.
Rainbow carrots are the result of carrot breeding, which is a completely natural process. With just some minor genetic alterations, carrot farmers are able to produce carrots that are red, yellow, white or purple.
In produce, color defines nutrients. Most people know that orange carrots contain beta-carotene, which is the source of their distinctly orange color. Lutein, a promotor of eye health, was added to produce the yellow and white carrot varieties. The antioxidant Lycopene, also found in tomatoes, gave rise to red carrots. The purple carrots contain a nutrient called anthocyanin, which can also be seen in blueberries.
How to Store
The carrot is the root of the plant and the green tops take its moisture and nutrition from the root. So, chop those green tops off right away to keep the carrot from going limp. Clean the dirt off and wrapped them in a cotton dishtowel. Carrots can stay firm, and crisp for months at a time when stored properly.
How to Cook
Before cooking carrots, they require minor preparation:
- New, smaller carrots: Don’t peel or cut. Simply scrub clean with a stiff vegetable brush. Cook whole.
- Older, larger carrots: They can be scrubbed clean (in cold water) but if the skin is very blemished or the recipe calls for it, they can be peeled and scraped off too. Larousse Gastronomique advises that carrots should not be scraped or peeled if maximum nutritional content is to be retained; simply brush them if you’re aware of their organic origins but do peel or scrape if concerned about pesticides. These carrots can be sliced, diced or cut into julienne strips for cooking.
- Grate the carrot where the recipe requires. In cooking, grated carrot is often used inside puddings, cakes and savory baked dishes.
Steamed carrots go well with many meals. Boiling is a good cooking method for older carrots. Use vegetable stock as a substitute for the cooking water if you’d like to impart more flavor to the carrots. Carrots can also be braised, added to a stir fry, glazed and roasted.
Carrot Apple Ginger Soup
Angela Liddon/ Oh She Glows
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for garnish
- 1 small onion, diced (1 cup diced onion)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 large apple
- 1.5 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped (= 5 cups)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- pinch of nutmeg
- Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a large pot, add 1 tbsp olive oil over low-medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for another couple minutes on low. Add chopped apple and carrots and cook for a few minutes more.
2. Add the vegetable broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender.
3. Carefully transfer this mixture into a blender (or you can use an immersion blender), add a pinch of nutmeg, and blend until smooth. You might need to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your blender. You don’t want the soup more than halfway full or it might explode through the top. Make sure to allow steam to escape through the top of the blender lid too.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also thin the soup out a bit with more broth. Serve and garnish with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.