The myths about vegetable oil

Posted Jan. 01, 2015, at 12:35 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 01, 2015, at 2:32 p.m.
Dr. Michael Noonan
Dr. Michael Noonan

I learn a lot from writing these columns.

For example, to prepare for this topic, one of the first things I did was to find out exactly what types of vegetables go into making “vegetable oil.” Turns out the answer is none. There are no vegetables in vegetable oil. That was a bit of a surprise for me, I just assumed that at least some of these oils had a little veggie juice in them.

So the next question is, why do they call it vegetable oil if there are no veggies in it?

The United Soybean Board (and other pro-vegetable oil references) completely duck the issue, just saying that all plant-based oils (corn, canola, olive, etc.) were called vegetable oils to differentiate them from lard-based shortenings. They don’t speak to the issue that these are not vegetable oils, or why they aren’t called plant oils.

The majority of these oils are better described as seed oils. These include the most commonly used oil — up to 85 percent of “vegetable oils” are from soybeans. The other seed oils are less common, like corn, sunflower, safflower and canola oil. A few are actually from fruit; this includes olive, coconut and palm oils.

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