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Americans regard vegetable oils as the “healthiest option” for cooking and frying, but a majority are unaware of the health risks arising from the manufacture of products like canola oil and palm oil, a new consumer survey from Coast Packing Company and Ipsos Research reveals.

The nationwide poll of 1,000 adults, conducted in August 2016, examined both awareness and behavior around vegetable oils and how they are processed and packaged, querying consumers about what they read, understand and believe – and how they act, based on that information.

When asked “which one of the following cooking/ frying oils do you think is the healthiest option?” 51 percent named canola oil, followed by butter at 11 percent, corn oil at 9 percent, palm oil at 8 percent, beef tallow at 2 percent and lard, also at 2 percent.  Another 18 percent said they didn’t know.

Vegetable oils are highly refined, a process that enlists chemicals to extract the oil from the seed — including compounds like n-Hexane, a known neurotoxin that has found its way into the food chain, where residuals have been detected.  The system used to refine vegetable oils also produces “process contaminants.”  These substances form during food processing — in particular, when refining vegetable oils at high temperatures.

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