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Vegetable Oils and Inflammation

Not all veggies are good for us.

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Person shopping for vegetable oils

Despite the word “vegetable” in the name, perhaps we should approach vegetable oils with caution. In a commentary published in Advances in Nutrition, scientists suggest that, if consumed too often, vegetable oils—like sunflower, soy and corn—can raise inflammation levels in the body and may raise the risk for conditions like Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

The report’s authors say that when these vegetable oils are heated to a high degree—as happens during deep-frying or roasting or when making packaged foods like chips—a harmful chemical process called oxidation occurs in their omega-6 fatty acids.

These oils can still be consumed in moderation. In fact, the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid is considered essential, so we must get it in our diets. But the smart move might be to swap out the oils for lower-omega-6 options like olive, avocado or flax more often. You can also use these alternatives with greater frequency in lower-heat food preparation methods like sautéing.

See also: Time for an Oil Change

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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