Cooking spray has made life so much easier. Just a quick shake and the push of a button and you’re done! Food doesn’t stick, you’re not adding any extra calories, and it’s safe because it’s just oil, right?
There’s just one problem. Cooking spray is nowhere close to being “just oil.” Even some of the next gen, so-called “healthy” versions of cooking spray will disgust you once you find out what you’ve actually been adding to your food.
Let’s take a look at what’s inside a can of one major brand of 100 natural, certified organic canola oil.
Natural and organic don’t always mean healthy
The fact that there’s an ingredient list on the can is our first clue that we’ve been the victim of a bait and switch scam. We thought we were buying canola oil, but it turns out we got more than we bargained for.
The actual ingredient list reads:
- Vegetable oil blend (canola, soy, and olive oils)
- Soy lecithin
- Grain alcohol
- And Propellant
Let’s take a closer look at each of those.
Vegetable Oil Blend:
So you’re canola oil is actually a blend of three different oils. We’ve got no problem with the olive oil. We love the stuff, it’s good for you and delicious. And although we’re probably not getting top-quality olive oil here, at least it’s a healthy oil overall.
But that’s where the good news ends. We’d never recommend canola oil to begin with. Canola is a common GMO crop. In this case it’s certified organic, which should be a point in its favor. But the truth is organic canola can still be a problem. The oil is often processed using a chemical solvent called hexane and while canola can be cold pressed without using chemicals unless a label states it is, there’s no way to know for sure which kind you’re getting.
And then there’s soy. We’re sure you know by known that soy is a hormone disrupter. Eating soy can be especially risky for women who are at risk of breast or reproductive cancers. And of course in the case of the major brand cooking spray we’re looking at today the oil blend isn’t the only place we find soy.
One of the most common food additives, soy lecithin is what’s known as an emulsifier. That means it helps keep other ingredients from separating. In the case of our cooking spray, the three oils would separate from the other ingredients so the soy lecithin is added to keep everything combined.
Soy isn’t just bad news for women, of course. Products from this junk crop can throw anybody’s thyroid and endocrine systems out of whack! And the phytic acid in soy can bind with magnesium, iron and zinc blocking your body from adequately absorbing these essential nutrients.
A good rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it you may want to think twice about eating it. Dimethylpolysiloxane certainly fits that bill. Often used in cooking sprays dimethylpolysiloxane as an anti-foaming agent and preservative. In fact, it’s so good at preserving that it can take up to 100 years for this vinegary smelling preservative to biodegrade.
Technically, dimethylpolysiloxane is labeled as safe to eat, but here’s the catch – it’s made from chemicals that are categorized as “less than safe” for human consumption.
You won’t find dimethylpolysiloxane only in food, however. It’s also commonly added to bathroom caulk, polishes and engine grease. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
You’re probably wondering why grain alcohol, so strong that it’s illegal to serve in some states, is doing in your cooking spray. Great question.
Grain alcohol is added to cooking spray simply to keep them clear when you spray them. It serves no other purpose.
Whenever you run across a vague generic-sounding term on an ingredients list such as fragrance, natural flavors, or propellant place the product back on the shelf and step slowly away. The truth is there’s simply no way of knowing what it actually is you’re about to eat.
In this case, propellant could mean carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, butane or even propane.
We get it. Cooking sprays are certainly convenient. And when a label says it’s all natural and certified organic it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s a healthy choice. But like with many shortcuts this one falls short.
So grab the olive oil, or butter, and spread it along your cooking sheet with a paper towel. Still prefer a spray? No problem, just Invest in a reusable oil mister and fill with organic extra virgin olive oil. That way your olive oil cooking spray will be just that.