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Oil Rancidity - The Dangers of Polyunsaturated Oils

Oil rancidity is a major source of toxins in standard diets, and happens most in the polyunsaturated plant oils that many dietary guidelines promote. Polyunsaturated fats should be part of a healthy diet plan, but getting them from a highly refined source - like many of the most common plant oils in your grocery store - is a bad idea.

That subtle difference is often overlooked. Oil is to fat as paper is to trees - a simple product made from a complex piece of nature. We have uses for these simple products of course, but we're starting to see in many of them that we've become pretty dependent on these things.

I'm not sure we need to totally eliminate paper or cooking oils, but I am sure that using them more mindfully than we currently do is a good idea. Mindful use, as I mean it, involves only using these things when they're necessary - or at least being aware of when we use them unnecessarily - and should lead to reducing how much we rely on them.

The word rancid is used for fats that have become unstable and created free radicals, which act as toxins in your body. Rancid fat = free radicals = toxic. Fats can turn rancid from exposure to heat, light and air.

Whole foods give you fats in the most protected state, before they have ever been exposed. Nuts in their shells, avocados that haven't been cut and grains that haven't been rolled or ground into flour are the best sources of fat.

Because of their chemical structure, polyunsaturated fats are the most unstable and most prone to oil rancidity. This means when you eat polyunsaturated fats, you need to be particularly careful of the exposure they have had to heat, light and air. Getting your polyunsaturated fats from oils is not the healthiest way to go.

The most highly refined (meaning most exposed to heat, light and air during processing) polyunsaturated oils are canola, sunflower, safflower, corn and soy. Because of their high potential for oil rancidity (and a few other reasons), I never use these oils. Although polyunsaturated fats are the most likely to become rancid in processing, all forms of fat can become rancid and buying unrefined oils is very important if you choose to use oil in your cooking.

Healthy fats should make up a portion of an overall healthy eating plan, and if you want more info on a balanced diet, check out the free 7 Secrets For Shaping Up Your Healthy Eating Habits. Polyunsaturated fats are healthy, and the two essential fats (omega-3 and omega-6) are polyunsaturated, but that doesn't mean that oil is a good way to get them into your diet.

The best sources of polyunsaturated fats are whole foods like ground flax, chia and hemp seeds, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and even whole grains like oats and quinoa.

There are so many things in our lives that parallel the idea of a simple product made from a complex resource, and that could be reduced. My goal lately has been to reduce the amount of water I use when washing dishes. Although we don't see the process, tap water goes through a pretty heavy set of systems and resources to get to our faucets.

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