There’s been some controversy surrounding PUFA’s recently, which has inspired me to deliver my professional opinion on the topic. Most of the debate has been driven by some questionable information being shared on a few blogs, motivated by a very limited, non peer to peer study, and as pufa’s mostly taken internally. As usual in the beauty community, the topic has been flamed with fear, opinion and misinformation.
PUFA stands for Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and are found in oils and contain essential fatty acids including the excellent Omega 3s.
PUFAs, sugar, and wheat are the latest in a chain of warnings regarding health and aging. While we can agree about the damaging effects of wheat and sugar, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids have a dual composition- they can have a negative impact on our health but certain types offer powerful benefits and should not be discounted.
Back in our grandparents and great-grandparents days, they used PUFA's such as butter, lard, and tallow, which contain valuable nutrients in the purest form without the involvement of chemical processing. When we discuss the toxicity of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids today, we speak of the typical grocery store, GMO, processed vegetable oils.
Various blogs would lead you to believe all PUFA’s are toxic and dangerous all the time - which isn’t true. The worst offenders of course are highly processed grocery store brands of Canola oil, Grapeseed Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Generic Vegetable Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Peanut Oil, and Margarine, Mazola, Wesson, Crisco, etc. These should be avoided always. Not only are they Genetically Modified if available (Corn and Canola) but also because of the toxic bleaching, gumming, and deodorizing process they all go through. These oils are rancid on the shelf.
Rancid oil? This is common with certain types of oils which are put through chemical processes at a high heat which turn the oils rancid then are processed again to cover it up. Want some overheated, oxidized, and chemically deodorized oils? No thank you! This is over simplifying the chemical process but keep in mind that here, rancid means oxidized, and oxidized oils are toxic oils. What happens when you consume oxidized oil? Inflammation within the body goes through the roof! Rancidity leads to inflammation which can lead to chronic illnesses and diseases.
Here’s what has been going on. We are talking about skin care and some of the information out there says how “if you are using any high pufa oils on you face - it’s destroying your cells and aging your skin.”
There’s a study going around that’s allegedly been conducted on rats that determines pufa’s are toxic. It implies that all oils high in pufa’s automatically contain free radicals and that simply isn’t true. They are formed when the oil is mistreated, heated or exposed to too much oxygen.
This is where the debate gets confusing. You cannot compare grocery store, rancid, gmo vegetable oil that has been processed to death with chemical solvents, deodorizing, de-waxing, and neutralizing agents with high quality, organically farmed, pure oils that have been cold pressed within weeks of using. Yes, oils higher in Polyunsaturated fats are more vulnerable to oxidation because the fats are not saturated, but when farmed organically, pure, high quality oils always delivers more antioxidants, therefore more antioxidants creates less chance of rancidity.
I have worked with all kinds of oils and many that are higher in polyunsaturated Omega fatty acids and let me tell you this - certified organic, cold pressed oils can stay very stable when they are pure in quality.
Once an oil goes rancid, once more than half the antioxidants molecularly change to free radicals. It is usually very obvious, they are miasmic, there’s a dirty “plastic-like”aroma and no good formulator would actually use them when it comes to skin care.
***The beauty industry has a long history of trying to take down competitors with incomplete or misleading information. Common practices go as far as companies funding biased research to promote their product or agenda.***
Here’s the deal - You can take just about any ingredient, break it down and isolate an unhealthy constituent out of context of the entire whole plant synergy and find something to portray as “bad” or unhealthy for one reason or another. Either a product, oil or plant works or it doesn’t and the entire, whole plant formulation must be considered to determine the efficacy of a product.
This is what Laurel of Laurel Whole Plant Organics says and I agree completely:
"Plants are not meant to be ‘dissected’ or broken down into their 'sometimes beneficial' and 'sometimes harmful,' isolated constituents. We need to question the quality of the plants used in studies like these as well. The stronger and more thoughtful the source, the lower the chance of free radical conversion.”
Thank you, Laurel. Yes, If these studies are going to be used, we have the right to know and need to know what quality, grade, the oils are and how fresh the particular plant ingredients are that are being used in the research. If someone is testing Crisco, and it comes up rancid, this does not apply to all oils high in polyunsaturated fats. duh.
Oils high in pufa’s are clearly more vulnerable that other oils with more saturated fat, but ALL oils can be mistreated and become rancid. Each plant oil contains unique benefits of the earth that are undeniable, they are vulnerable and they should be. They are powerful, healing plant medicine.
Here's another important factor to consider - When we formulate with highly stable, quality organic oils that are lower in pufa’s, along with oils high in beneficial omega fatty acids, these oils that contain more saturated fat can help stabilize the more vulnerable oils. This way we can continue to experience the benefits that high pufa oils bring to the table along with the synergy all of the oils create when combined.
There are many incredibly, beneficial PUFAs
Let's look at Hemp Seed Oil as an example. According to a study conducted in Finland, hemp seed oil helps alleviate dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin. This is due to the balance of omega-6 and omega- 3 fatty acids. The study was carried out in 2005 by researcher J. Callaway and published in the 2005 "Journal of Dermatological Treatment." Callaway found that symptoms of skin dryness and itching significantly improved in dermatitis sufferers after using hemp seed oil for 20 weeks.
Hemp seed oil is used in various cosmetics including skin creams, shampoos, shaving cream, lip balms and sun creams. Hemp seed oil is a natural moisturizer and can help to make skin feel smooth and soft while acting as a barrier and preventing moisture loss. Hemp is also rich in vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption to help achieve soft, smooth and hydrated skin.
Like Hemp Seed, oils such as Macadamia Nut, Almond, Olive, and Sunflower can be used without toxicity and inflammation. Our bodies need fats in moderation and when we find oils that work on the inside and outside, they should be given consideration. If these oils are farmed organically there are more antioxidants therefore less chance of oxidation/rancidity as well.
There is so much more within the whole oil than separating out and identifying certain constituents as unhealthy outside of it’s complete form.
Look for pure, cold pressed, organic and certified organic oils. Thanks for reading!