The Worst Ingredient You’ll Eat Today

Before the 1900s, fewer than 10 Americans suffered heart attacks in any given year. Today, it’s the leading cause of death.

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | Guest Writer

Many people think it’s sugar, but I believe this health bomb is far worse. If you consume more than 5 grams of it each day, you could be giving chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and tumours a head start in your body. It’s in everything you eat, but especially these seven foods.

Diet is, as you might expect, a key strategy that can make or break your health (and your tolerance for stress). The Paleo diet, which has gained popularity over the years, essentially strives to mimic the diet our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era. But we don’t actually have to go that far back.

Merely turning back the dial about 150 years will do. That’s when industrial food processing began. That’s also when industrial processed seed oils (aka, vegetable oils) were introduced as a replacement to healthy animal fats like lard and tallow, which had previously been the norm.

The first commercial food seed oil to be introduced was cottonseed oil — a waste product from cotton production. That was the primary ingredient of Crisco. Prior to the 1900s, only 1% to 2% of daily calories came from omega-6 fats, the primary one of which is linoleic acid (LA). Today, the average intake is 10 times that.

Like omega-3, LA is a polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), but unlike omega-3, LA, when consumed in excess, acts as a metabolic poison. Anything above 4% of your daily calories is likely to cause problems.

Importantly, LA is in virtually all foods, so it’s near-impossible to be deficient. This is why I disagree with claims that LA is an essential fat. You need very little of it, and you’re getting it from most whole foods. If you eat processed foods made with seed oils, you’re bound to get far too much and will suffer adverse health consequences.

Before the 1900s, fewer than 10 Americans suffered heart attacks in any given year. Today, it’s the leading cause of death.

Before the 1900s, fewer than 10 Americans suffered heart attacks in any given year. Today, it’s the leading cause of death. Cancer deaths were also much lower. Pre-1900, fewer than 1 in 100 of Americans died from cancer, and today, cancer kills 1 in 3.

Most health-minded experts still believe the primary cause for these trends is sugar, but LA is far more dangerous than sugar, from a metabolic perspective. I’m convinced it’s really the massively excessive amounts of LA in our modern diet that drives these metabolic diseases.

Looking at statistics of seed oil consumption and chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer and heart disease, these trends all rise in tandem, even in areas where sugar consumption has remained extremely low well into the modern era. Another major difference between sugar and seed oils that demonstrate the superior risks of seed oils is this:

Sugar, when consumed in excess over time will result in insulin resistance and metabolic inflexibility. However, if you cut out sugar, you can rather rapidly restore both your insulin sensitivity and metabolic flexibility, because your body can only store about a day’s worth of glucose.

Not so with fat. Your body can store a lot of it, for long periods of time. LA is literally incorporated into and stored in your cell membranes, where it can remain for seven years. So, even if you go on a low-LA diet, it’ll take years to fully clear it out of your body. This also means you won’t notice improvements in your health as quickly as you do when cutting out sugar.

Damaging Fats to Avoid

So, which fats are high in LA and need to be avoided? Some of the most common ones to be avoided include:

  • Cottonseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil

While avocado oil and olive oil are known for their health benefits, they too are high in LA and should be used in moderation — and ONLY if you can ensure their quality. I recommend limiting them to 1 tablespoon a day. A primary problem with both of these is food fraud. [1]

Most of the avocado and olive oil on the market have been adulterated with one or more or the cheaper oils listed above. Another pesky quality problem is that of rancidity. A 2020 Food Control report [2] found 82% of avocado oils went rancid before their expiration date. [3]

Healthy Fats

I recommend swapping all of the oils listed above with the following, all of which are great to cook with as they’re very stable and won’t oxidize when exposed to high heat:

  • Coconut oil
  • Tallow (fat from cows)
  • Organic grass fed butter
  • Ghee

Healthiest Protein Sources

In this interview, we also discuss protein sources. Conventional chicken and pork are both loaded with LA due to being fed high-LA grains. This is why I don’t recommend either as a protein source. Grass fed beef is relatively low in LA, but lowest of all are bison and lamb.

Fish is also a healthy choice, provided you stick with low-mercury alternatives, such as Alaskan salmon and smaller fish like wild mackerel and sardines. These, in addition to providing you with healthy omega-3 fats also contain resolvins and protectins — biomolecules that augment the benefits of omega-3. Neither of these are available in omega-3 oils, so you can’t get those from a supplement.

How to Calculate and Reduce Your LA Intake

The best way to ensure your LA intake is within a safe range is to use a nutritional calculator such as Cronometer. Ideally, it is best to enter your food for the day before you actually eat it. The reason for this is simple: It’s impossible to delete the food once you have already eaten it, but you can easily delete it from your menu if you find something pushes you over the ideal limit.

As a general rule, anything over 10 grams of LA a day is likely to cause problems. The lower the better, but a reasonable goal for most people is to get your level below 5 grams per day.

Once you’ve entered the food for the day, go to the “Lipid” section on the lower left side of the Cronometer app. To find out how much LA is in your diet for that day, just note how many grams of omega-6 is present. About 90% of the omega-6 you eat is LA. You can also move your cursor over the omega-6 field and the program will rank the order your largest contributors of LA, and tell you how much is in each food.

As a general rule, anything over 10 grams of LA a day is likely to cause problems. The lower the better, but a reasonable goal for most people is to get your level below 5 grams per day. So, how do you cut seed oils out of your diet? Top culprits to minimize or eliminate include:

  • Vegetable oils or seed oils used in cooking
  • Processed foods, especially sauces, dressings and other condiments
  • All restaurant foods (not just fast food), as most food is cooked in seed oil, not organic butter or lard
  • Conventionally raised chicken and pork (both are high in LA due to being fed omega-6 grains [4])
  • Most seeds and nuts (most, with the exception of macadamia nuts are loaded with LA)
  • Bread and other grain products

The Potent Benefits of Sun Exposure

Besides cleaning up your diet, one of the most potent health strategies I know is to get sensible sun exposure. I have been fascinated with the effects of sun exposure on health for nearly three decades.

Over time, we’ve discovered more and more mechanisms by which sunlight influences health, and most recently, it was discovered that near-infrared radiation (NIR), which makes up 54.3% of sunlight, [5] triggers the production of melatonin in the mitochondria inside your cells.[6]

This is a phenomenal benefit, as melatonin is a master hormone, [7] a potent antioxidant [8] and antioxidant recycler, [9] and a master regulator of inflammation and cell death. [10] (These functions are part of what makes melatonin such an important anticancer molecule. [11])

Your mitochondria are where oxidative stress ends up doing the most damage. So, by producing melatonin in your mitochondria, your body is literally making it right where it’s needed the most — and it does this in response to sunlight!

Ideally, you’d want to get an hours’ worth of sunlight on large portions of your body, every day. For men, this means going out wearing only shorts, and for women, wearing shorts and a sports bra or tank top.

If you go out around solar noon, without sunscreen, you also get the benefit of vitamin D production. I have not swallowed a vitamin D supplement since I moved to Florida nearly 15 years ago, and my serum vitamin D is in the optimal range year-round.

Time-Restricted Eating

Time-restricted eating (TRE) is a form of intermittent fasting, and in my opinion, the easiest to implement, as all you need to do is eat all your meals and snacks within a six- to eight-hour window each day. (You’ll want to make sure your last meal is at least three hours before bedtime). For the remaining 16 to 18 hours, you fast.

In the U.S., 90% eat across 12 hours. Some will even wake up in the middle of the night to eat, and this is a surefire recipe for ill health. One of the primary benefits of TRE is that it will make you metabolically flexible, so that you can burn both fat and carbs for energy.

If you’re constantly hungry, chances are you’re metabolically inflexible and cannot efficiently burn fat. Your body is basically just screaming for another quick energy fix, because carbs burn fast and when they’re gone, you need more.

Once your body can efficiently burn fat, hunger usually disappears. Without hunger pangs driving your search for food, you’ll also be able to simply not eat if you’re in a situation where you can’t find healthy food. This way, you’re not “forced” to eat junk that will deteriorate your health.

Are You Prepared for What’s Coming Next?

In the last third of the interview, we move on to discuss the now-constant attacks on our freedoms and liberties. I’ve interviewed a number of experts, all of whom agree that things are going to get far worse before they get better.

Some of my more important interviews include professor Mattias Desmet (the psychology of mass formation and totalitarianism), which has not yet been released, Dr. Mark McDonald (the psychology of fear addiction), Naomi Wolf (the stages of tyrannical takeover), Patrick Wood (the transhumanist, inhumane goals of technocracy) and Catherine Austin-Fitts (the financial takeover and theft of America).

The way things look right now, barring seemingly nothing short of a miracle, the ruling technocracy will indeed achieve their one world government, their New World Order (NWO), now openly discussed under the banners of The Great Reset, the fourth industrial revolution, the “build back better” plan, the Green New Deal, Sustainable Development and many others.

The control grid is being erected all around us; attacks are coming at us from every conceivable angle, all at once. And technological advancements give them advantages that no other tyrant in history had. They literally have the ability now to surveil, monitor and in various ways control the behaviour and movement of most humans on the planet.

Already, we can see they’ve queued up more “emergencies” in the form of pandemics, climate change, famine and energy shortages, just to name a few. They have many tricks up their sleeve, and we have to be ready for them. How? Suggestions include but are not limited to:

  • Getting out of densely-populated urban areas and forming parallel communities that aren’t dependent on the state
  • Protecting your assets by investing in real assets that can’t be vaporized by grid failures or bank failures
  • Investing in food. Learn to grow your own food, stock up on nonperishables, and befriend local farmers
  • Securing alternative sources of energy and transportation

Post-collapse, we’ll eventually have to reinvent and rebuild basically everything — education, and the medical, financial and food systems. While some are trying, I do not believe we can change these systems while the old systems are still in operation. They’re too powerful.

This is particularly true for medicine. They destroy anyone who attempts to compete at scale. So, as illustrated in the book, “Atlas Shrugged,” the old system must essentially be allowed to self-destruct, and then the survivors can rebuild something brand-new. Knowing how to care for your health, then, becomes truly crucial, because that’s the only way you’ll make it through whatever’s coming.

Originally published Jun 26, 2022 on


About the Author

Born and raised in the inner city of Chicago, IL, Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Mercola served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Centre for five years, and in 2012 was granted fellowship status by the American College of Nutrition (ACN).

While in practice in the late 80s, Dr. Mercola realized the drugs he was prescribing to chronically ill patients were not working. By the early 90s, he began exploring the world of natural medicine, and soon changed the way he practiced medicine.

In 1997 Dr. Mercola founded, which is now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the internet. His passion is to transform the traditional medical paradigm in the United States. “The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans… You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.”

Visit for more information, or read Dr. Mercola’s full bio and resume here.

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