On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

‘Industrial’ Oils Wrongly Maligned

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I recently came across the “Hateful 8” theory from an M.D. who casts “industrial seed oils,” such as canola, safflower and corn oils, in catastrophic and deadly terms. In short, this doctor claims that they increase inflammation, disrupt metabolism and destroy your health. This doctor also says there is a link between the consumption of these oils and the most dangerous effects of the coronavirus. What do you advise regarding industrial seed oils? -- S.H., Tulsa, Oklahoma

DEAR S.H.: This theory is off the mark and misleading. These oils can be assets in an otherwise healthful diet -- they can contribute essential fatty acids, for instance -- and should not be considered “catastrophic” or “deadly.”

Making a vague connection between the use of seed oils and “the most dangerous effects of the coronavirus” is a bit irresponsible. Where’s the evidence? Certainly, if a person is poorly nourished and in a suboptimal state of health, they will be at greater risk should they get this virus. But to point to seed oils as a villain in any circumstance is without merit.

Using “industrial” as a derogatory descriptor is also off. All foods, including organic ones, are produced by an industry.

The key with diet is to balance all elements, and not to overdo it. There is no basis to reject seed oils in the preparation of healthful foods, and they should not be rejected based solely on the unsubstantiated statements of this individual.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: Your column on calcium and milk brought back memories from when I was buying books about nutrition for the library I worked at 50 years ago. I encountered the statement in several books that fat was needed to metabolize milk, and I eventually traced the source to Adelle Davis, a famous nutritionist in the 1950s and ‘60s. Although I recall that Davis scrupulously documented her sources for statements like “People need vitamins,” she gave no source for the dictum on milk and fat.

Davis died in 1974 and has faded from public view. I hadn’t heard the statements about milk for years, but apparently, they are still around. -- S.F., Hayward, California

DEAR S.F.: I have found that every time the topic of milk comes up, it awakens opinions from those who insist that milk should only be consumed by calves. There are those who take issue with homogenization, pasteurization, vitamin D fortification and more. And all of the anti-milk arguments are then ably countered by those in the pro-milk camp. It is always a challenge to inform without fanning the flames.

I remember reading several of Adelle Davis’ books, and found her common-sense approach -- one that focused on real foods and their nutrients -- to be a good starting point.

Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.