Factory producing vegetable oil

Wrapping up a series of articles on how industrial seed oils, aka vegetable oils, endanger health and promote male infertility, this article will show how vegetable oils promote aging.

Mitochondria and aging

Mitochondria are small intracellular organelles that generate energy, and for that reason are often termed the powerhouses of the cell.

In my book, Stop the Clock, I noted the three main physiological correlates of aging, which are:

  • decreased autophagy
  • increased oxidative stress
  • increased inflammation.

All of these are related to poor mitochondrial function. If the mitochondria don’t work well to generate power for cellular systems, nothing else works well either. If we could solve the problem of poor quality mitochondria, that could solve many of the problems of aging.

Mitochondria have membranes enriched in fatty acids, and these are critical in energy production. Age-associated changes in mitochondrial membranes include an increase in membrane rigidity, which is accompanied by increased omega-6 fatty acids, and decreased omega-3 fatty acids and cardiolipin, the latter an important membrane component. 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), a toxic byproduct of lipid peroxidation that is known to be involved in damage to sperm cells, also increases.

Omega-6 from vegetable oils accelerate mitochondrial aging

Aging itself appears to change the composition of mitochondrial lipids to a greater ratio of omega-6 lipids to omega-3 than is seen in youth.

But dietary factors also impact mitochondrial lipids and thus can accelerate or retard aging, depending on what those dietary factors are. Diets enriched in omega-3 fats, the kind found abundantly in fish oil, reduce mitochondrial aging and return them to a more youthful state, with greater efficiency in energy generation and lower production of free radicals that cause damage.

Diet rich in omega-3 PUFA reverses the age-associated membrane omega-3:omega-6 PUFA imbalance, and dysfunctional Ca2+metabolism, facilitating increased efficiency of mitochondrial energy production and improved tolerance of ischemia and reperfusion.

Diets enriched in omega-6 fats, of the type found in vegetable oils, accelerate this process.

Chronic consumption of omega-6 fats cause mitochondrial damage and cardiac dysfunction, in rats, with as little as 4 weeks of increased consumption. This leads directly to malfunctioning organs, including the heart.

Decreasing the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats results in a reduction of atherosclerotic plaques in mice. The reduced ratio lowers inflammation leading to less atherosclerosis.

Omega-6, aspirin, and heart disease

Aspirin prevents the aggregation of platelets and therefore inhibits clot formation. For this reason, it’s both used to prevent heart attacks, and can cause bleeding. It also decreases the risk of cancer.

Looking at the mechanism of action of aspirin yields insights into the causes of heart disease and cancer, and this is related to omega-6 fatty acids in body tissue.

Aspirin’s anti-platelet action comes from its ability to inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase in platelets. Cyclooxygenase catalyzes the first step in the production of thromboxane, which promotes platelet aggregation, increased blood pressure, and vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels).

The first step in the production of thromboxane uses arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that in turn is made from linoleic acid, the main omega-6 fatty acid from vegetable oils. Ingestion of large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils increases the amount of these molecules in the membranes of platelets (and other cells and tissues).

Due to the increased amounts of omega-6 fatty acids in the Western diet, the eicosanoid metabolic products from AA, specifically prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes, hydroxy fatty acids, and lipoxins, are formed in larger quantities than those formed from omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA. The eicosanoids from AA are biologically active in very small quantities and, if they are formed in large amounts, they contribute to the formation of thrombus and atheromas, to allergic and inflammatory disorders, particularly in susceptible people, and to proliferation of cells. Thus, a diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids shifts the physiological state to one that is prothrombotic and proaggregatory, with increases in blood viscosity, vasospasm, and vasocontriction and decreases in bleeding time. Bleeding time is decreased in groups of patients with hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipoproteinemia, myocardial infarction, other forms of atherosclerotic disease, and diabetes (obesity and hypertriglyceridemia). Bleeding time is longer in women than in men and longer in young than in old people. There are ethnic differences in bleeding time that appear to be related to diet. Table 9 shows that the higher the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids in platelet phospholipids, the higher the death rate from cardiovascular disease. 

It seems that in a very real sense, the protective effect of aspirin is related to protecting against the deleterious effects of omega-6 fatty acids.

Further evidence that aspirin protects against excess omega-6 is that in patients with back and neck pain who took 1200 mg a day of fish oil, 60% of them quit taking their NSAID pain meds, including aspirin. Since increased omega-3 displaces some of the omega-6 in tissues, then the reason for the decrease in pain in many of these patients could be due to less omega-6 fatty acids in their tissues. Simple displacement of omega-6 fatty acids could partly explain the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fats in fish oil.

Aspirin’s cancer prevention effect may also be related to its inhibition of cyclooxygenase and subsequent production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Women with a low ratio of omega-6 to -3 fatty acids in breast tissue had a much lower risk of breast cancer, as much as 70% lower, when comparing lowest to highest tertile.

The risk/benefit profile of aspirin might be skewed greatly depending on the population that used it. If someone chronically ingested a low ratio of omega-6 to -3 fatty acids, aspirin might not have as much of a protective effect, although it would increase risk.

This reasoning also reinforces studies showing that vegetable oil causes cancer.

Aspirin also extends lifespan in mice, and the scientists who found this result speculate that inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis may be involved. The food fed to the mice in the aspirin experiment contains soybean oil, so maybe the aspirin partially mitigated that.


  • The omega-6 fatty acids in vegetable oil alter mitochondrial membranes and decrease their function, accelerating aging.
  • They also increase inflammation.
  • Aspirin works in part by inhibiting production of molecules made from omega-6 based constituents.

At this point, after three article on vegetable oils, I probably don’t need to say more than “don’t touch the stuff”.

Avoiding it is easier said than done. I manage to avoid them for the most part because my lifestyle is set up in a way that I can do that. Most of my meals are eaten at home, and they consist of whole, not processed foods. When I eat out, I normally don’t eat anything that contains vegetable oils in any quantity; foods that do contain large amounts of them include baked goods and pastries, fried foods, dressings like mayonnaise.

Don’t give food that contains vegetable oils to your pets either. This cat food, for instance, contains soybean oil that looks like it might provide as much as 8% of calories as omega-6 fats.

Health authorities have been promoting vegetable oils for several decades now in a futile attempt to decrease heart disease. They don’t.

Vegetable oils are also made by the tanker-load and are cheap food additives, so they’re widely used.

The promotion of vegetable oil consumption and the massive increase in their use may prove to be a worse mistake even than the promotion of high-carbohydrate diets, in my view.

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  1. Mellie Walks says:

    Great post! Never thought to check pet food for this insidious stuff!

  2. Bill says:

    Again a great post PD and along with the others presents the issues that come from eating industrial oils.

    I just wonder how the message can be got out there to the general public. Here in Oz, the message from nutritionists is still don’t eat butter or cream, stay away from meat fats, and ‘enjoy’ your vegetable oil. And it is so cheap lots of people are sucked in.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Thanks, Bill – I don’t know how the message can get across. For now, it’s only the initiates that know, or care. Here in the US the Heart Association just reiterated that we should be replacing sat fat with veg oil. It’s sickening.

    • Bill says:

      Today my lady & I went shopping. We needed olive oil so we bought more of our regular olive oil here : A 3 liter tin of Red Island Australian Extra Virgin olive oil. It cost A. $25.00 . Which I guess is about $20.00 US. And fro good olive oil that is pretty cheap. It comes from a huge olive plantation at Boort in Victoria. The company planted 3000 hectares about 2004. I have no idea if they sell outside Australia.

      But at the end of the aisle there were 3 liter tins of ‘Golden Canola’ omega 6 industrial oil. It was on sale for just $10.00 A. And that’s the reason it is so popular with take away food places here and for frying food at home. If only folks knew it is toxic.

      • P. D. Mangan says:

        20 USD for 3 liters of OO seems very reasonable. Pity about the canola; of course they make it on an industrial scale so, it’s cheap.

      • Stuart Mather says:

        EVOO has about double the amount of Onega 6 as Canola Oil. Canola oil is only slightly higher in omega 6 ^’s than Macadamia oil.- Which has far and away the highest amount of monounsarturates (omega 9) of the lot.
        Why do you think Canola oil is ‘tpxic’?
        So by all means eat a small amount of olive oil for its flavour, but limit it. It’s just too high in omega 6 And most humans ( in the developed world anyway) consume FAR too much omega 6’s
        There certainly are plenty of seed oils that are high in omega 6 fat. But canola isn’t one of them
        Also its smoke point is considerqbly higher than EVOO, which as a cooking oil , is pretty woerul.
        That’s why all the expensuve non stick frying pan companies make their warranties conditional on NOT using oive oil..
        All the stuff on the internet dissing Canola oil never leads back to any real research.
        It is a very enduring myth though. I’ll grant you that.
        When you said ‘…..industrial omega 6 canola oil’ .. ‘. ???

          • Stefan Sladecek says:

            Apart from a suggested T-lowering activity of canola oil, do you see other dangers in this specific oil beyond your general concerns about them?

            I switched to rapeseed oil some years ago (its never really clear to me if the words are used interchangeably or mean two different kinds of oil) because it has the lowest omega6:omega3 ratio of all vegetable oils and thus should be a superior choice over other vegetable oils.

            What is your take here?

          • P. D. Mangan says:

            There seems to be something toxic in canola oil, exactly what unknown, that decreases lifespan in rats. Effect of Rapessed and Dietary Oils on the Mean Survival Time of Stroke-Prone Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Rapeseed and canola oil aren’t interchangeable. I believe that canola comes from a modified version of rapeseed plant, some change was made that makes it more palatable; whether canola has the same effect as rapeseed, as indicated in the linked article, I don’t know. My view, which I’m sure is obvious given the articles I’ve written on them, is that all seed oils should be avoided, even though canola oil appears to be the least bad of them. The seed oils are just not a food that humans are eveolutionarily adapted to. If you need an oil, olive oil is the one to use – though beware of fraudulently labeled olive oil.

        • Bill says:

          Early endothelial nitrosylation and increased abdominal adiposity in Wistar rats after long-term consumption of food fried in canola oil.

          Bautista R1, Carreón-Torres E2, Luna-Luna M2, Komera-Arenas Y2, Franco M1, Fragoso JM2, López-Olmos V2, Cruz-Robles D2, Vargas-Barrón J3, Vargas-Alarcón G2, Pérez-Méndez O4.
          Author information

          The aim of this study was to establish whether the long-term consumption of reused canola oil contributes to the development of dyslipidemia, obesity, and endothelial function.

          Canola oil was used for one frying cycle (1 FC) of corn flour dough or reused 10 times (10 FC). Rats received chow diet (control) or supplemented with 7% raw oil (RO), 1 FC or 10 FC oil (n = 10 per group). Food consumption, blood pressure (BP), and body weight plasma glucose, plasma lipids were monitored. Vascular reactivity was analyzed using aorta rings stimulated with phenylephrine and acetylcholine. Nitrotyrosine presence in aorta rings was analyzed by immunohistochemistry.

          After 10 wk of follow-up, visceral adipose tissue was significantly more abundant in 1 FC (7.4 ± 0.6 g) and 10 FC (8.8 ± 0.7 g) than the RO (5.0 ± 0.2 g; P = 0.05 versus 10 FC group) or control group (2.6 ± 0.3 g; P = 0.05 versus all groups). Despite similar plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, and BP among groups, a significantly reduced acetylcholine-induced vascular relaxation was observed in the three groups receiving the oil-supplemented diet (47.2% ± 3.6%, 27.2% ± 7.7%, and 25.9% ± 7.6% of relaxation, for the RO, 1 FC, and 10 FC, respectively; P < 0.05 for all versus 62.4% ± 9.7% of the control group). Endothelial dysfunction was concomitant with the presence of nitrotyrosine residues at a higher extent in the groups that received heated oils compared with the RO group.

          High canola oil intake over 10 wk was associated with increased adipose tissue and early endothelial dysfunction probably induced by peroxinitrite formation. Such deleterious effects were significantly potentiated when the consumed oil had been used repeatedly for frying.

          Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

          • P. D. Mangan says:

            Thanks, Bill – the problem illustrated in that article is common to basically all restaurant food: they cook food in oils that are used over and over. In my opinion, anyone who wants to take charge of their health and/or lose weight needs to be careful about eating outside the home, both in the matter of quality and frequency.

  3. Drifter says:

    But it’s great for starting fires in your fireplace. Just pour some on the wood (or on the charcoal in your barbecue). It’s basically biodiesel so you’ll have a great fire going in no time. I found some a family member bought from before the great info here was well-known and I didn’t want to waste it, so I know this works.

  4. Dj wellington says:

    Hello Doc, i agree with what research shows, but what is missing from your article is stating the the proper ratio of Raw source (not processes/rancid) ratio of 6/3 omegas. Plant based Essential Fatty Acids are essential to the human diet. The answer to the proper diet intake is not to load up on Fish oil ( which i have some doubts about) but a properr whole food diet and proper injestion of flax oil/ evening primrose/ high linoleic sunflower/ pumpkin seed oil/ virgin coconut oil. In proper ratio, provides some very positive effects. Taken in very very small amounts..

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi DJ – first, I’m unfortunately not a doctor. I agree with some of your comment, in that these fatty acids are definitely essential, and that one shouldn’t “load up” on fish oil. In my book, I suggest a tsp of cod liver oil 2 to 3 times a week. Most important aspect of all this is to eliminate the excess omega-6 (mostly linoleic acid from seed oils). However, I’m not convinced of the necessity of evening primrose oil and I especially wouldn’t take the sunflower oil and possibly the pumpkin seed oil. Some people can benefit from these, for sure, e.g. chronic fatigue sufferers may find them worth a try. Flax oil contains alpha linolenic acid, which is converted in the body to DHA, but at a low rate. I suggest anyone desiring more omega-3 fats head straight for fish oil instead.

  5. So what do you replace it with? I use oil to cook my steaks for example. Can you use olive oil?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Philip – I’m no cook, so I asked my girlfriend. For steaks, she currently uses a grill pan (she emphasizes no Teflon, but you probably knew that) along with a touch of olive oil.

      • ValorForFreedom.com says:

        Thank you for the quick answer 🙂

      • Nick says:

        We have organic olive oil specifically for frying or otherwise heating up here. I don’t use it any more, since discovering how great coconut fat is — it splatters noticably less, especially less so than ghee. Plus I love the effects it has on taste.

        So where are we at with teflon pans? I use a couple a lot. Guess maybe I shouldn’t, but damn, it’s nice for fish and eggs.

        • P. D. Mangan says:

          Hi Nick – my sense of the matter is that Teflon isn’t harmful, at least, not as far as anyone can tell, and far less so than seed oils. I use Teflon for eggs, some other stuff.

          • Nick says:

            Tried making Mrs’s eggs this morning (not been able to get her onto fasting yet, though she understands and believes in it) in a stainless with coconut fat. Not as bad as I’d feared – doable, but not as nice as simply sliding them out of the teflon.

            Bad thing is, I have used them very hot, for browning, even making our eggs nice and crispy on the bottom. So that’s out.

  6. Ole says:

    Using PFOA cookware is harmless, as long as pans are not overheated. The real problem is, that PFOA is used in so many other products, mainly as a dirt- and water repellent.


    When the last pyramid in Egypt has been eroded by sandstorms, we will still be able to find PFOA in the ground and in the water supply. It is spread globally around the world and its biodegradability is non-exsistent, unfortunately:


    Even plutonium-239 with its half-time of 24,100 years will eventually turn into a less harmful substance.

  7. Drifter says:

    Something else this reminds me of is that one reason some of the various trials for Omega-3 supplementation did not show great results is that if one does not also cut Omega-6 intake, the Omega-3 will not be able to enter the cells to nearly as great a degree, so the extra omega-3 is essentially never able to perform its function. A better reason is probably that omega-3 alone is unlikely to overcome chronically high insulin and bodily sugar, but Omega – 6 intake could be a factor as well.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Drifter – that’s absolutely correct. Since omega-6 and -3 compete with each other, a high background level of omega-6 intake will overpower the benefits of omega-3 intake. A high level of omega-6 requires more omega-3 and likely explains some of the results you mention. In the US, something like 2.5 g/d omega-3 are needed to overcome the background omega-6 intake, whereas in people that consume no added omega-6 (veg oils), only 1/10 that much omega-3 is needed.

  8. JohnD says:

    I have been restricting my n6 intake for 3 years, consuming limited chicken and nuts, and almost no vegetable oil. Kettle Brand sells potato chips that I eat once in awhile that I believe are healthy because they cook them in a safflower oil (technically a vegetable oil) that has a high concentration of monounsaturated fats (like 90% monounsaturated, 10% n6). Do you have an opinion on monounsaturated oils?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi John – monounsaturated fats are fine, but I’m not crazy about safflower oil. As with most things, the dose makes the poison and if you were only occasionally eating those chips, and weren’t ingesting any other oils, then possibly little harm is done.

      • Stuart Mather says:

        There’s two completely different types of safflower oil . High oleic (about 75 % monounsaturated fat – about the same as olive oil) and high linoleic about 75% omega 6.
        No idea about the smoke point of either, although the high oleic could well be better.
        So avoid high linoleic safflower oil. High oleic would be about as healthy as olive oil, though not nearly as healthy as either macadamia or canola.

        • P. D. Mangan says:

          Here’s a short video on how canola oil is made. It’s an industrial product that lowers testosterone, increases cancer and heart disease risk, and that I won’t be putting into my body.

  9. Anne Huckerby says:

    Is extra virgin olive oli (cold pressed) included in these omega 6 vegatable oils? I have switched to olive oil, coconut oil and butter but am now worried.

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