PUFAs: The Facts Mom Never Told You About

Don’t blame mom. Actually, I probably need to revise that statement, since so many of you are now much younger than me. More aptly, I might say, “don’t blame great grandma”. Since I’m talking about a generation that lived back in the sixties, when TV commercials were loaded with ads for vegetable oils…

In any case, mom, grandma, whoever it might be- she only knew what she heard on the television. She didn’t have the internet to use as her research library. Even now, a lot of my friends don’t know what PUFAs are. Noting the apparent increase in many diseases, a friend remarked, “It must be all the saturated fats in the American diet”. She majored in nutrition and dietetics back in the late seventies. But let’s take a closer look…

PUFAsHow things have changed! In my virtual world online, I come across countless latest findings from grass-roots studies. It’s not info you found in our text books fifty years ago, for sure!

Let’s look at vegetable oils– touted as being “heart-healthy in so many ways”. But chemicals and high heat and intense mechanics have extracted the oils out of stuff like cotton, canola, safflowers, soy and corn- how much oil can these things contain?! And they get added to almost every commercially-prepared food on the planet. Those very processes make the oils highly unstable; they become oxidized and rancid quite quickly. Not that you would notice; so many oils have been refined and “deodorized” enough that you’d never taste anything off. Ew.

Not scared yet? Oxygen and heat turn those PUFA oils into toxic lipid peroxides, carcinogens and mutagens (much more than what’s found in saturated or monounsaturated oils).

That’s why I get sad if a friend says they add flax seed oil to their smoothies. That flax seed oil is not likely to stay fresh. I imagine that if it’s in capsule form, it will stay fresher, as it’s protected from oxygen. It’s probably been cold-pressed too, so that helps. But, I’m giving you flack about flax! Unless you grind it fresh in a little electric coffee/spice grinder, or in a Vitamix or the like, it’s probably rancid.

Besides rancidity, PUFAs have another problem: They are inflammatory, due to their high Omega 6 content. I mentioned something about the Omega 6 to 3 ratio in this post. To sum it up, that ratio is highly unbalanced due to the average modern diet. Food industry advertising doesn’t mention that. But you can decide who you’re going to believe: Profit-seeking companies producing “information” (in the form of commercials), or doctors who aren’t bought off by those companies. There’s also the anecdotal info from individuals, speaking from personal experience. Do word searches and you’ll find countless blogs written by folks who have challenged the conventional wisdom, have applied new food rules, and have seen victory over all kinds of symptoms.

I’ve posted here, on the PUFA content in various oils, and what that can mean for you in the kitchen. (How do you cook and keep it healthy?!) And I’ve posted on whole-food sources of PUFAs here. At least those nuts and seeds are lower in Omega 6s than most vegetable oils. They are our bad guy today, since they have a far greater chance of being fresh.

For now, start checking out labels. Almost every trendy prepared food I find (at Trader Joe’s even), uses canola or other PUFA oils… I guess there’s more profit in using those, and more expense in using olive oil. I know, I know- it may seem like a small deal compared to the giant issues we have to deal with these days. I’ve updated this page in 2022, to make sure links and such still worked, and there certainly are bigger issues on the horizon… In any case, may all your food be blessed by Jesus. That’s really our best hope, haha!

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