Leading natural health practitioner calls FDA’s qualified health claim for soybean oil a “head scratcher”
Beverly Yates, ND fears consumers may be misled
and overwhelm their bodies with inflammatory Omega-6s
Beverly Yates, ND is concerned. The FDA’s recent approval of a qualified heart health claim for soybean oil may cause people to consume more products that don’t support cardiovascular health. In response, this leading natural health expert is recommending that the food industry – and the public – explore alternatives including Malaysian palm oil.
“The information released by the FDA said in part, “To qualify as heart healthy, soybean-oil-containing food products, including margarine, margarine substitutes and margarine products, must also be a good source of one of six beneficial nutrients identified by the FDA: vitamin D, potassium, iron, calcium, protein or dietary fiber,” comments Yates, the author of Heart Health for Black Women. “Whoa! Who is trying to say that margarine is heart healthy these days!? This is a real head scratcher.”
She adds that, “Lowering LDL cholesterol is a worthy goal. If soybean oil helps, that’s OK although LDL itself isn’t the bad guy. Of bigger concern: Will people overwhelm their bodies with an oil that is problematic? Adding soybean oil to trans fats, for example, isn’t a “win” for heart health. Plus, soybean oil contains large amounts of pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. What strikes me as odd about the qualified health claim is that soybean oil’s 6:3 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s is not optimal from a health benefit. Malaysian palm oil, also an affordable oil for food manufacturers, doesn’t have these issues. It has no trans fats. And it has a balanced fatty acid profile. While it does have saturated fats, they are not a causative factor in heart disease.”
Consumers don’t read labels
With this qualified heart-health claim, Yates says we may soon see all kinds of products, previously considered unhealthy, suddenly listed as heart healthy. “That many of these lower cost food items will now wear a heart healthy badge is crazy and concerning. Foods that we know caused health problems before will continue to cause them.
“I worry that soybean oil will now be added to products where it doesn’t exist now because it’s cheap and they can include the qualified health claim as a marketing angle,” says Yates. “It is already found in products with cheaper ingredients. When families try to conserve money, they tend to reach for these lower cost foods. This may put them at risk for everything from heart disease to diabetes.”
Yates is also concerned with how soybean oil is produced. “Soy can be heavily genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides. The solvent used to extract soy is often hexane, a chemical also found in gasoline. Malaysian palm oil is sustainably produced. It is extracted without chemicals and is far less likely to have contamination issues. These are all important considerations with respect to coronary heart disease, which is driven by inflammation.”
She points out that heart disease and diabetes tend to run in families. “Families tend to eat the same way, which is how some genetically weak links get expressed. Now generations of people may grow up believing that products made with soybean oil are heart healthy.”
This could not come at a worse time. “In the 1990s, heart disease was more common among African American women. By 2000, that had shifted and all groups are worse off for heart disease. That trend is continuing. Heart disease, diabetes and obesity are rampant. People aren’t eating a plant-based diet. They are eating too many carbs and not enough high-fibre foods. Their diets have no balance and are of poor quality.”
Questioning the science
Yates has examined the science submitted to support soybean oil’s heart health claim. “Not every population is at the same risk for heart disease. Some of the studies they hung their hat on were done in other parts of the world, where the diets and portion control are much different than the U.S. If you tried to duplicate the study here it may be a different outcome, as the typical diet in one country or in one part of the world isn’t the same as in other parts of the world.”
Eliminating saturated fat isn’t the answer
“People still continue to dodge using any edible oil that has a significant amount of saturated fat. This isn’t helping consumers’ health as much as they think it is. Inflammation is the issue with heart disease. Saturated fats are not a stand-alone factor,” explains Yates.
“Those who are trying to make saturated fat to be inherently the bad guy are going down the wrong path. Most of the people who show up in the ER with a heart attack have lower or normal cholesterol levels. People ate lots of saturated fat back in the day and it wasn’t heart disease that killed them. It was diseases such as polio.
“What heart disease and diabetes have in common is they are driven by inflammation. The quality of oil you consume matters, but that message doesn’t get communicated. A lot of people try to avoid oil completely. And when they do eat it, they choose poor quality oil. They miss out on the nutritional elements found in higher quality oils, such as Malaysian sustainable palm oil.
She concludes, “While more studies are needed, Malaysian palm oil – which will be entirely certified sustainable by 2020 – has much more solid research with respect to its cardiovascular and neurological benefits.”
For additional information about the palm oil’s health and nutritional benefits, as well as its sustainable farming and processing practices, visit www.palmoilhealth.org.
Biography: Dr. Beverly Yates
Dr. Beverly Yates, ND is a California licensed doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and a 1994 graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM, www.NCNM.edu) in Portland, OR. She is also a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (www.MIT.edu) where she earned her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and minored in bio-electrical engineering. Dr. Yates is frequently called upon as a media guest because of her expertise in natural health, integrative medicine and homeopathic solutions. She also serves on numerous Medical and Scientific Advisory Boards.