Vitamin E in Canola, Soybean and Corn Oils Damages the Lungs

We’ve got one more reason for you to trash the canola, soybean, and corn oils America has grown so fond of cooking with. Not only do these oils undergo extreme processing that renders them a hydrogenated mess of trans fatty acids that lead to…

  • Heart problems
  • Blood platelet abnormalities
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Free radical damage

…but a new study shows that the vitamin E in canola, soybean and corn oils damages the lungs. These oils contain high levels of gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E associated with decreased lung function and asthma.

Plastic bottle of cooking oilOlive or Canola? It’s a No-Brainer!

Canola, soybean, and corn oils contain a form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol, which has been associated with decreased lung function in humans. The form of vitamin E found in monounsaturated oils like olive and sunflower—alpha-tocopherol—is linked to increased lung function.

Associate professor of medicine in allergy/immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Joan Cook-Mills expanded on her previous research, which demonstrated the prohibitory effect of alpha-tocopherol on lung inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in mice. (Airway hyperresponsiveness is a primary characteristic of asthma.) In 2012, Cook-Mills pinpointed the key factor in the opposite effects of alpha and gamma vitamin E forms. Both types of vitamin E bind with the protein kinase C-alpha, but alpha-tocopherol suppresses the protein, while gamma-tocopherol activates it.

She analyzed 4,526 individuals from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA). An analysis of data from the subjects’ lung function tests at four intervals over 20 years, and the type of tocopheral levels in the blood plasma at three intervals over 15 years, showed that those with high levels of gamma-tocopheral registered a 10-17% decrease in lung function.

According to Cook-Mills, “A 10 percent reduction in lung function is like an asthmatic condition. People have more trouble breathing. They take in less air, and it’s harder to expel. Their lungs have reduced capacity.”

Needless to say, those in the CARDIA study with both asthma and increased levels of gamma-tocopherol exhibited the lowest lung capacity.

What does this mean for asthmatic Americans? “Considering the rate of affected people we found in this study, there could be 4.5 million individuals in the U.S. with reduced lung function as a result of their high gamma-tocopherol consumption,” Cook-Mills explained.

The study, published in Respiratory Research, is the first to correlate gamma-tocopherol with decreased lung function. The study confirms the predominant trend of the last 40 years: asthma rates have been steadily increasing alongside the consumption of canola, soybean, and corn oils—erroneously thought to be better for you than saturated fats like butter.

Take a look at the empirical evidence. Asthma rates are far lower in European and Scandinavian countries with diets high in olive and sunflower oils. Pit that against the high asthma rates in the US, where consumption of hydrogenated oils is prominent. The average blood plasma level of gamma-tocopherol is four times higher than that of populations indulging in olive and sunflower oils!

Time to add a bit more European flavor to that diet!