Time for an Oil Change – Dr. Mario Howell

Experts advocate that eating organic foods is an ideal way to be healthier. For instance, one of my favorite foods is chicken nachos: organic corn chips topped with grilled organic chicken breast, unrefined cheese, and pico de gallo. This dish is tasty, convenient, and quick. Ok… I must admit, I do add a bit of sour cream, but… reasonably healthy… right?

Most corn chips though, are manufactured using regular hydrogenated vegetable oils in processing. While others use cold pressed oils, which is more beneficial to overall health. Dr. Howell, you’re not going to tell us to quit eating chips, are you? Not exactly, but you must understand the detriment from the consumption of hydrogenated oils or trans fats, and learn to choose your chips wisely.

Since the early1900’s manufacturers began hydrogenating vegetable oils in order to prolong their shelf life and make the oils more stable. Hydrogenated oil is oil in which the essential fatty acids have been converted to a different form chemically, which has several effects on the oil. The oil is far more stable, and will not go rancid as quickly as untreated oil. It has a higher melting point, and is often used in frying and pastries. The chemical structure of the oil is changed, which scientists in the 1990’s began to realize could result in negative health effects.

For the past 50 years we have been sold a bill of goods by so called “authorities” that eating saturated animal fats contributed to obesity and to cardiovascular disease. Since the 1950’s a massive crusade began by the food industry and government agencies suggesting that Americans lower their dietary intake of animal fat and cholesterol. This mandate has resulted in an increase of dietary vegetable oils and processed carbohydrates.

The “fat-free” mentality is now fully integrated in the minds of American consumers. Despite the recommendations to lower dietary animal fats, heart disease remains the number one cause of death in this country. But are animal fats really detrimental to our health, or could it be just a big FAT lie? But, Dr. Howell, research shows that eating foods heavy in animal fats and cholesterol leads to obesity and heart disease. Well folks, hang on to your hats!

Dr. McBride, a Russian neurologist, writes in her book, “Put Your Heart in Your Mouth,” that we have hundreds of scientific studies showing that the low fat hypothesis is a common misconception. Dr. Lundell, a renowned cardiologist and author of, “The Cure for Heart Disease” and, “The Great Cholesterol Lie”, says, “The idea that saturated fats cause coronary disease is completely incorrect. The avoidance of animal fats and their replacement with vegetable fats plays a huge part in causing heart disease. Why is this? Because it encourages the pro-inflammatory metabolism of excess omega 6, it throws the ratio off kilter. These vegetable oils should be replaced in our diets with lard, coconut oil or olive oil.”

Let me explain this ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are a group of unsaturated fatty acids that are considered essential for health, but cannot be made in the body. We must get this nutrient from our foods. Together, omega 3 and omega 6 are crucial for brain function as well and growth and development. Omega 6 fatty acids are not inherently harmful in the right amounts, but tend to be metabolized into pro-inflammatory compounds. Omega 3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are metabolized into anti-inflammatory compounds.

It is estimated that most of the omega 6 fatty acids in the American diet are derived from hydrogenated vegetable oils. The current ratio in the American diet is about 20-to-1, omega 6 to omega 3. It should be between 4-to-1 and 1-to-1. Another problem is that omega 6 fatty acids compete with omega 3 in the body, leading to an omega 3 deficiency. Is it any wonder that Americans suffer from a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids?

It would be impossible in this article to cite the thousands of studies of the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. I’ve discussed before how vascular inflammation plays a critical role in the genesis of atherosclerosis. Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the best defenses in prevention of vascular inflammation, and without it, inflammation can accelerate out of control. The most widely available sources of omega 3 fatty acids are cold water oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies. Other rich sources include flaxseed oil, fresh-farmed eggs and grass-fed beef.

Does anybody remember Crisco? It was the first hydrogenated oil introduced to the public back in 1911 by Procter and Gamble. Procter and Gamble’s new product resembled lard, and soon after they initiated a campaign demonizing lard and successfully replacing it with their product. Is it a coincidence that the rise in heart disease in this country began soon after? These oils are so harmful that two years ago Denmark instituted a ban on the production of hydrogenated oils.

The irony is that we are getting fat from low fat, and we are consuming the wrong types of fat. Today nearly 60% of the population in our country is overweight or obese resulting in skyrocketing medical cost. The list of obesity related medical conditions keeps growing.

In summary, we are dependent on oil and not just foreign oil from abroad. What we suffer from is a shortage of healthy oil in our bodies. It’s time folks that we make that oil change to improve vascular health.