We all know that oxidative stress, or free radicals, can cause hemolysis in those with G6PD Deficiency and that legumes and some other foods and drugs cause oxidative stress. But, one thing I did not know, until recently, is that some cooking oil could be contributing to oxidative stress. After reading this in an article a few day ago, I got busy to find out if it was true and , if so, why? Here is what I found out.
It is amazing how many websites (government, doctor, health, weight loss and many more) there are that are all saying the same thing. Oils that are high in linoleic acid, or CLA, are bad for us in a lot of ways, including contributing to oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, cancer, aging, brain dysfunction, liver problems and others. And I thought the only reason to avoid them was that they are usually extracted with hexane (a petrochemical that is toxic to nerves). The following list shows the oil and the percent of linoleic acid it contains:
- Safflower oil – 78%
- Grape seed oil – 73%
- Poppyseed oil – 70%
- Sunflower oil – 68%
- Hemp oil – 60%
- Corn oil – 51%
- Wheat germ oil – 55%
- Cottonseed oil – 54%
- Soybean oil – 51%
- Walnut oil – 51%
- Sesame oil – 45%
- Rice bran oil – 39%
- Pistachio oil – 32%
- Peanut oil – 32%
- Canola oil – 21%
- Egg yolk – 16%
- Linseed oil – 15%
- Avacado oil – 14%
- Lard – 10%
- Olive oil – 10%
- Palm oil – 10%
- Cocoa butter – 3%
- Macadamia oil – 2%
- Butter – 2%
- Coconut oil – 2%
Are you as surprised as I am? Look at the linoleic acid content in oils from egg yolk down. They are the ones we have been told are bad for us for the past 70 or so years. Now we are finding out that they are wrong. And, in fact, the oils we have been told are good for us are actually very bad for us.
Linoleic Acid and Oxidative Stress
Yummmm. Doesn’t that look good? Cucumbers, tomatoes and … sunflower oil? All the things that we have been told all our lives are good for us. Eat this and we’ll live forever. Sunflower seeds are a good thing, but sunflower oil is not for all the reasons below.
Because polyunsaturated fats like linoleic acid are more susceptible to damage by free radicals, studies have shown that a high intake of linoleic acid can contribute to oxidative stress (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8640909).
In one controlled trial, people were fed a diet high in Omega-6 linoleic acid, mostly from sunflower oil (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9844997). After four weeks, the blood markers of oxidative stress had increased significantly.
Although this same concept is explained on many websites, Dr. Raymond Peat, Ph. D explains it in an easier to understand way. He states:
“In red blood cells, which have sometimes been wrongly described as “hemoglobin enclosed in a cell membrane,” it has been known for a long time that lipid oxidation of unsaturated fats weakens the cellular structure, causing the cells to be destroyed prematurely.
Lipid oxidation products lower the rigidity of regions of cells considered to be membranes. But the red blood cell is actually more like a sponge in structure, consisting of a “skeleton” of proteins, which (if not damaged by oxidation) can hold its shape, even when the hemoglobin has been removed. Oxidants damage the protein structure, and it is this structural damage, which in turn increases the “fluidity” of the associated fats.
So, it is probably true that in many cases the liquid unsaturated oils do increase “membrane fluidity,” but it is now clear that in at least some of those cases the “fluidity” corresponds to the chaos of a damaged cell protein structure. (N. V. Gorbunov, “Effect of structural modification of membrane proteins on lipid-protein interactions in the human erythrocyte membrane,” Bull. Exp. Biol. & Med. 116(11), 1364-67. 1993).”
Does this sound familiar to you at all? Linoleic acid oxidation breaks down the red blood cell structure causing cells to be destroyed prematurely. Hemolysis. Exactly what triggers do.
Okay, so polyunsaturated oils like linoleic acid can cause oxidative stress and hemolysis, now what?
Preventing Linoleic Acid Induced Oxidative stress
You folks who live in temperate zones where coconuts are grown and coconut oil is made will be happy to know that there is a local product that can help prevent linoleic acid and other unsaturated fats from causing oxidative stress. Coconut oil is an amazing oil.
Replacing most of the cooking oil you use with coconut oil will go a long way towards reducing linoleic acid caused oxidative stress. And, it will help your health in several other ways. Such as:
- Improving your heart health
- Boosting your thyroid
- Increasing your metabolism
- Promoting a lean body and weight loss, if needed
- Supporting your immune system
The oils in the list above that are less than 20% linoleic acid should be used as much as possible instead of those 20% and higher. And, any oil you use should be cold pressed and not extracted with hexane. If the package doesn’t say cold pressed or naturally extracted, it is more than likely extracted with hexane.
Here is a trick that can help you add coconut oil to your diet. Mix butter (also low in linoleic acid) with 50% coconut oil. Use it on bread, potatoes, or where ever you would normally use butter. Very tasty.
For those of you still using baby formulas, this supports the suggestion to not use them. Look at the ingredients. Almost all of them replace the butterfat in milk with the vegetable oils that are high in linoleic acid. Butter is, after all, expensive while hexane extracted oils high in linoleic acid are cheap. The fact that they interfere with brain development is secondary to profits.
Recently I told, or should I say, retold, a story about a research scientist who compared those with G6PDD to canaries in a coal mine. We are much more sensitive to unhealthy foods and drugs than the general populace. G6PDD is a blessing in disguise. It forces us to live a more healthy lifestyle and avoid things that cause health issues. Although cooking oil could be contributing to oxidative stress in those with G6PDD it is doing the same thing to those who do not have G6PDD. they have more reduced glutathione to help prevent the oxidative stress, but it still happens. If you get the chance, read Dr. Mercola’s article about linoleic acid and the health benefits of coconut oil at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/03/24/coconut-oil-part-one.aspx