Many people focus largely, if not completely on the nutritional and chemical composition of the food and don’t even think about how it’s being prepared, or the additional affects encountered through various cooking methods. Frying foods, which consists of cooking in hot oils of any kind, creates a chemical reaction called oxidation, which is extremely carcinogenic. It loads the system with what called free radicals that damage the molecular structure of the body, compromising it, and ultimately creates the ideal environment for a large variety of cancers.
Oxidation of cells is what’s called body “rust”. In order to get a visual idea of this, slice an apple, and the exposure to oxygen turns it reddish-brown from free radical damage. Oxidation takes place when oxygen loses an electron during interaction with other molecules, and becomes a form of renegade as a free radical. These are what you might call wounded or unstable oxygen molecules that are very dangerous to the over-all health of the body. In their natural quest to heal themselves, free radicals steal electrons from any healthy (whole) molecule they can, creating more free radicals in the process, and so they multiply. Whenever oxygen mixes with other molecules, free radicals form.
Frying foods in oils of any form should be eliminated as a food preparation method. Heating oils changes the chemical composition of the oil loading it with free radicals. This includes not only the obvious deep fried or pan fried foods, but also things like potato chips, snack items, and nuts and seeds that are roasted in oils, or in their own oil. It also includes all animal meats that cook in their own juices as body fats. Grilling as well as pan frying or any method that sears, browns and glazes with a crispiness, is especially carcinogenic and should be avoided. French fries and potato products are especially bad because the potato absorbs and retains a large amount of the oil. Deep (vat) fried products are especially bad because the oil is not only heated at 340-360 degrees, but is kept heated for hours and days at a time. The average fast-food restaurant only changes the oil in deep fryers every 2 to 3 days, after it has completely broke down, become dark, filled with sediments, and rancid tasting.
Most oils are produced through various forms of heat extraction, which makes them highly carcinogenic as a basic product, before they’re used for cooking. The advantage of Olive oil that’s “extra virgin” is that it’s extracted from olives through a cold-press method, and is not heated. If it doesn’t say “virgin” or “extra virgin”, which means collected from the first round of cold pressing, then it’s not “pure” and is produced from heat extracting of some sort, and is carcinogenic as a result before it’s even used for cooking by heating it further. Once oil is heated, even olive oil, it oxidizes even further, producing a large array of free radicals that damage the body at the cellular level and become the breeding ground for cancers, tumors, masses and a whole group of other diseases, such as hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol (LDL), degenerative eye diseases (macular degeneration), DNA – damaging genetic information (causing cells to replicate uncontrollably becoming cancerous), and aging itself through cellular breakdown.
As the Laws of nature go, every force has a counter force, and for every free radical our body produces through chemical reactions of various sorts, there is an antioxidant to control it. The primary antioxidants are vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene (produces Vitamin A). Antioxidants literally come between free radicals and cells, and offer up their own electrons in order to stabilize them. Foods that are high in antioxidants are a good idea to eat on a regular basis to help counteract all the forms of free radicals that not only come from our diet, but also toxins in our everyday environment. A diet heavy in fruits and vegetables such as: citrus fruits, broccoli, carrots, green and sweet peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, and wheat germ are just a hand full that contain high levels of antioxidants, and should be a regular part of your daily diet.
Alternative cooking methods should be employed to replace any form of frying or heating oils as a means of cooking. Raw, steaming and baking are obvious alternatives for vegetables, also simmering in water or low-sodium vegetable broth in place of frying. While this alters the flavor of the food, you’ll grow accustomed to it in no time, and once you get used to the fresher taste that it produces, greasy foods will lose their appeal, not to mention you’ll be reaping the results in terms of health and just knowing that your taking positive steps to improve your health and increase the vitality of your body, which has a lot of satisfaction in it. When we take good care of ourselves, we feel good about ourselves and begin taking responsibility for our own health and sense of well-being.
And always keep in mind that the body grows accustomed to whatever we feed it. When changing eating habits, it only requires a time frame of 4 – 6 weeks before a new habit is established, and then, the old one loses it appeal, you no longer crave it, and even when you do eat it on occasion, it doesn’t taste nearly as good. So learn to take back control of your health by making conscious decisions that nourish your body, instead of satisfying addictive cravings that act to destroy your health. You’ll reap the consequences of a healthy young looking body, higher energy level, clear and radiant skin, and a noticeably improved state of mind!
Dr. Linda Gadbois