Sizzle Smart: How Switching Your Cooking Oil Can Boost Heart and Lung Health

By using the healthiest cooking oil, you can lower your blood pressure, improve your heart health, and protect your lungs. Many medical researchers believe the type of vegetable oil you use in your kitchen plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health.

The Interaction Between Vegetable Oil and Blood Pressure

A study led by scientists at King’s College in London shows that when you use olive oil on your salad, it produces natural substances that bring down your blood pressure. These findings explain why the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, helps keep hypertension away.

Vegetables like spinach, celery, lettuce, and carrots are rich in natural nitrites and nitrates (nitrogen compounds). When you consume these vegetables along with olive oil, which is rich in unsaturated fatty acids like nuts and avocados, nitro fatty acids are created in your digestive tract.

Within the body, the nitro fatty acids inhibit an enzyme called epoxide hydrolase that would otherwise raise your blood pressure. According to researcher Philip Eaton: “The findings of our study help to explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.”

The Ultimate Vitamin E from Olive Oil

The type of vitamin E found in olive oil also provides significant health benefits. Experiments at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine show that the particular kind of vitamin E in olive oil is more beneficial than the E vitamins found in canola, soybean, and corn oil.

Olive oil contains a form of vitamin E known as alpha-tocopherol. In contrast, those other oils are richer in gamma-tocopherol. The gamma-tocopherol in canola, soy, and corn can inflame your lungs and make you more susceptible to lung inflammation and asthma. The alpha-tocopherol in olive oil, in contrast, protects your lungs.

During the past 40 years, asthma rates in the U.S. have been climbing at a frightening pace. Researchers say this increase goes along with people’s increasing consumption of soy, canola, and corn oils following a switch away from lard and butter.

Countries that consume more olive oil and sunflower oil (which also contains alpha-tocopherol) have much lower asthma rates. Today, in the United States, about one in 12 people struggle with asthma. Moreover, the typical American’s blood level of gamma-tocopherol is about quadruple that found in citizens of Europe and Scandinavia that consume larger amounts of sunflower and olive oil.

“People in countries that consume olive and sunflower oil have the lowest rate of asthma, and those that consume soybean, corn, and canola oil have the highest rate of asthma,” says researcher Joan Cook-Mills. “When people consume alpha-tocopherol, which is rich in olive oil and sunflower oil, their lung function is better.”

Avoid Frying Your Arteries

No matter what oil you use in your kitchen, avoid frying foods in vegetable oils at high temperatures and never reuse oil for frying after it’s been heated to high temperatures.

Tests at the University of Minnesota show that when unsaturated vegetable oils are heated to 365 degrees F and beyond for frying and are kept there for 30 minutes or longer, they form a toxin called HNE (4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal) and other related dangerous substances.

“HNE is a well-known, highly toxic compound that is easily absorbed from the diet,” warns researcher A. Saari Csallany. “The toxicity arises because the compound is highly reactive with proteins, nucleic acids — DNA and RNA — and other biomolecules. HNE is formed from the oxidation of linoleic acid, and reports have related it to several diseases, including atherosclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and liver diseases.”

By reheating oil repeatedly, you create larger and larger amounts of HNE. Therefore, try not to fry food if you can help it. Baking meals at lower temperatures is usually a better option for your health.