Monday, July 21, 2008

Don’t use grapeseed oil for frying

Over the past few years, more and more people have asked me if they should use grapeseed oil for frying, since they’ve heard that it has a very high smoke point. I don’t think grapeseed oil is optimal and here’s why.
For frying foods, it is desirable to use an oil that will not smoke, for both taste and health reasons. But it is also desirable to use an oil that will not become oxidized.
The oxygen in air attacks polyunsaturated fats, especially when they’re heated. This is called oxidation, and it will cause the production of oxidized fats that taste rancid and probably contribute to coronary heart disease.
Grapeseed oil is very high in the polyunsaturated fat, linoleic acid- an essential nutrient that you would die without. Like other polyunsaturated fats, linoleic acid lowers blood cholesterol too. This is all good, so if you like it, use it in salads and for baking, but don’t subject this delicate oil to high temperatures where it will become oxidized.
But what we need even more than linoleic acid is the other essential fat, alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat. So for baking or salads, why not use walnut oil or canola oil, and get them both?
Back to frying- for high temperature cooking use oils that are low in polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil and peanut oil, and in particular, use refined oils (clear) from which all the troublesome proteins, etc., have been removed that contribute to smoking.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Diet or drugs for cholesterol-lowering?

The American Academy of Pediatrics caused a big stir by recommending the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) in kids, even though there have not been safety or efficacy studies of these drugs in children. I looked at the AAP position paper to get the details, hoping that they would recommend starting out with safe nutritional strategies before progressing to drugs. Well, yes and no. They do recommend dietary intervention, but just the same old low fat and low cholesterol diet that has been ineffective for adults and has driven them by the scores to statins.

The authors of the AAP position paper are not nutritional scientists, they are M.D.s. They need to be told of research by Chris Gardener at Stanford, Jenkins & Kendall in Toronto, and others, showing that there are much more effective means to lower cholesterol than the documented-ineffective “low-fat” diet. Through a variety of mechanisms, eating more plant foods (including fatty ones) can be quite effective at lowering cholesterol. With simple nutritional strategies, a client of mine lowered her LDL cholesterol from 164 to 123 in 3 weeks, and then to 106 in another 4 weeks. What will it take to get medical doctors to stick to medicine and to let more knowledgeable nutritional scientists make diet policy?