Medical doctors, researchers, and other experts spoke on March 3 at the “Future of Fat” virtual summit, the first-ever meeting dedicated exclusively to the harmful effects of oils made from vegetables or seeds, including canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil.
Such oils have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, cancer, macular degeneration, and other chronic diseases.
“There are other conferences that focus on oils and fats broadly speaking. We don’t know of any other that have brought together MDs, Ph. Ds, doctors, and environmental scientists to discuss the impact of vegetable/seed oils specifically,” said Jeff Nobbs, co-founder, and CEO of Zero Acre Farms, in an email interview with The Epoch Times.
“Vegetable oils are ubiquitous in restaurants and fast-food and packaged food including bread, crackers, cereal, granola, chips, dried fruits, salad dressings, mayonnaise, sauces, fried foods, ice cream, baked goods, and other snacks,” he said. “Vegetable oils now account for 20 percent of our daily calories, which represents the greatest increase in sources of calories in the last 100 years, since the globalization era began.”
Zero Acre Farms organized the “Future of Fat” event. The startup, which just raised $37 million in venture funding from Coldplay, Robert Downey, Jr., and other investors, aims to replace seed oils with oils produced through fermentation.
Seed oils are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), including an omega-6 PUFA known as linoleic acid. When cooked at a high heat—almost always part of the industrial process for producing commercial seed oils—linoleic acid oxidizes very rapidly.
Dr. Cate Shanahan, a family physician, and metabolic health expert, told The Epoch Times that high dietary intake of PUFAs can cause fat cells to malfunction.
According to Shanahan, who serves as an advisor for Zero Acre Farms and spoke at Future of Fat, the oxidative stress induced by PUFAs overwhelms the antioxidant system, driving the dysfunctional inflammation and elevated toxin levels that trigger many chronic diseases.
“This is not just theoretical,” she said. “No one who understands the science of it would argue with me.”
Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid American Heart Institute, and another Future of Fat speaker drew The Epoch Times’ attention to multiple papers by Dr. Christopher Ramsden of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
One 2013 meta-analysis by Ramsden and others found that men who replaced saturated fats obtained from animal fats or other sources, with omega-six linoleic acid obtained from vegetable oils, had higher rates of heart disease and even death.
Shanahan considers the American Heart Association (AHA) a prime culprit in the rise and dominance of seed oils.
In her own writings, she has highlighted the role of Dr. Ancel Keys, an influential cardiologist and founding member of the AHA’s Council on Epidemiology and Prevention.
“After [Dr. Ancel] Keys made the cover of Time Magazine on Jan 13, 1961, the American public was introduced to the idea that saturated fats were clogging their arteries.
“That idea ultimately led to a sea change in the foods we eat. Real fats would increasingly be replaced by factory-made seed oils, and the era of chronic disease would begin,” she wrote in that blog entry.
Shanahan and others have pointed out that the AHA first rose to public consciousness thanks to a multimillion-dollar donation from Procter & Gamble, the inventors of a vegetable oil-based alternative to animal fats, Crisco.
Thanks in part to the AHA, beef tallow and other animal fats, staples of the traditional American diet, were replaced by vegetable oils. That change ran in parallel with the rise of chronic disease.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the AHA for comment on Future of Fat.
In an email, The Epoch Times referenced AHA’s “Healthy Cooking Oils” webpage, which states that “replacing bad fats [saturated and trans] with healthier fats [monounsaturated and polyunsaturated] is good for your heart.”
The AHA’s webpage recommends that its readers choose “non-tropical vegetable oils like olive, corn, canola, peanut, and sunflower oil.”
AHA responded by directing The Epoch Times to language taken from that same webpage, including at least some text apparently aimed at alternative perspectives:
“When you hear about the latest ‘diet of the day’ or a new or odd-sounding theory about food, consider the source.
“The American Heart Association provides dietary recommendations based on the best available scientific evidence.
“As more research emerges, you can be sure that the American Heart Association will continue to update its science and bring you the facts,” their webpage continues.
“I’m a doctor, and I want people to get healthier—and the main barrier to that is the American Heart Association,” said Shanahan.
Opposition to seed oils has also taken off on social media.
“Healthy Oil Respecter” and “Seed Oil Disrespecter,” a husband-and-wife novelty Twitter account act, have attracted thousands of followers.
In real life, “Seed Oil Disrespecter” is a physician. Like many social media users in the post-Woke era, he has chosen to remain anonymous to avoid reprisal.
He told The Epoch Times that he didn’t expect his account to gain this much traction. The memes he posts are meant to be over-the-top and funny—the better to capture what he sees as the genuinely outrageous dangers of seed oil consumption.
“I would say splitting the seed has had worse consequences than splitting the atom,” he said.
He too serves as an advisor for Zero Acre.
“I was skeptical at first, knowing nothing of their operation or details. Then I learned folks who have been public with their ancestral health work, including on seed oils, were advisers. It piqued my interest,” he said.
“Seed Oil Disrespecter” said quitting seed oils freed him from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lowered his blood pressure, and generally made him healthier.
He isn’t alone among the many anonymous Twitter users who have responded to anti-seed oil activism.
One told The Epoch Times about the benefits he and his girlfriend experienced when they removed seed oils from their diet roughly eight months ago.
“My skin improved significantly—brighter complexion, less redness, less irritation,” he said in a message.
“I used to have terrible heartburn all the time which improved dramatically. And both my girlfriend and myself experienced way higher energy levels.”
Because seed oils are so ubiquitous in restaurants, he and his girlfriend cook virtually all of their meals themselves from scratch.
Another anonymous Twitter user described similar effects when he and his wife cut their intake of seed oils: “For me, weight loss to some degree [though I was hardly overweight before], but definitely fewer digestive problems, more energy, and better skin.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, a U.S. trade association for the refiners of seed oils and various other edible oils.
In addition, The Epoch Times has approached multiple medical experts known for ascribing health benefits to various seed oils.