Column: Are You Cooking With Danger?


Are you disregarding the old saying, “health is our greatest wealth” by not being concerned enough about the foods you consume?


The most widely used oil in the U.S. is found in the vast majority of processed and packaged food, as well as in countless restaurants and fast food chains. It is given to livestock as well. Soybean oil is virtually everywhere.


With some great press, the public has been led to believe that soybeans are healthy. In reality, they can actually endanger your health.


Researchers from the University of California in Riverside found that soybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer’s, anxiety and depression. The university’s recent findings were published in the journal Endocrinology in January.


The genetically modified organism (GMO) version of soy oil is created in a lab by introducing genetic material (DNA) from a different organism into the soybean seed before planting. This DNA is from another variety of plant outside of its own, or from another species entirely. That is genetic engineering.


Greenpeace states “genetically engineered crops directly promote an industrial and chemical-intensive model of farming harmful to people, the environment and wildlife.”


What About Allergic Reactions?

Research shows that GMO foods have tremendous potential to trigger allergic reactions. In 1994 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the introduction of genetically engineered crops to America. In 1996, the allergy rate in children tripled. 



Many researchers and scientists show that eating GMO foods can contribute to the development of cancer. Just one of their arguments is that the disease is caused by muta-tions in a person’s DNA, and thus it is dangerous to introduce new genes into the body.


Antibiotic Resistance

Numerous GMO plants contain genes that make them resistant to antibiotics.

Genetic modification, which can boost a crop’s resistance to herbicides and pesticides, as well as diseases that attack non-GMO plants, in turn, can also affect the ability of people to defend against many illnesses. These novel genes in GMO food have the ability to transfer to the bacteria in a person’s gut, which then travel to the cells, causing mutations.


The First Process

In the past, soybean oil was partially hydrogenated, which then produced trans fats that negatively affect our health, further increasing the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart dis-ease and other illnesses. In a presumed effort to protect the public health, the govern-ment banned food manufacturers from using hydrogenated fats. This ban took effect on June 18, 2018.


The Newer Process

The newer processing method to replace hydrogenated oils, a technique called interesterification, is used to rearrange fatty acids among triglyceride molecules. This mixes trans fat-free hydrogenated soybean oil with a non-hydrogenated oil that is a trait enhanced (genetically engineered) oil, or alternative vegetable oil. Interesterified fats are actually even worse than hydrogenated oils. The public should always question what something is being replaced with, but since the overwhelming majority of consumers has not questioned this, as of now, interesterified oils are mainstream.


What to Be Aware Of

Caveat Emptor: If the soy oil states high oleic soy, it means it is genetically modified, but is not stated as such.


Soy itself, whether it be conventional, GMO or even organic, contains naturally occurring isoflavones. These substances can have goitrogenic and estrogenic effects. Lectins, also contained in soy, are other “anti-nutrients” that can interfere with absorption of important nutrients. We do not digest lectins. Rather, they pull away various vital nutrients on their way through the digestive system and prevent these nutrients from being absorbed where the body needs them.


So What to Use

Cook with or buy products prepared with coconut oil, and organic butter from milk given to us by grass-fed cows, if possible. Use only 100% olive oil. As long as the olive oil is 51% olive oil, according to labeling requirements it can still be called olive oil, even though 49% of it is either a combination of oils or another oil, which is almost always guaranteed to be soy.


The Big Tip and Takeaway

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported that 94 percent of soybeans are genetically modified.


“Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe,” according to the Non-GMO Project. “In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.”


The new National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard came into effect on Jan. 1. Under this new rule, all foods containing genetically engineered ingredients will be labeled as “Derived from bioengineering;” or can state: “Bioengineered.”


Use your newfound knowledge to avoid buying a dangerous oil and get “cookin” healthy.


Gary Feldman is a researcher, health writer, nutrition educator and lecturer and instructor in the Port Washington Union Free School District Continuing Education program. 


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