What are seed oils?
Seed oils are a type of refined vegetable oil in which the oil comes from the seed of a plant, rather than the fruit. The most common seed oils include canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and safflower oil.
Seed oils are extremely neutral in taste and have a high smoke point. That’s why many home chefs reach for seed oils when they want an unobtrusive, mild-flavored oil to cook or bake with.
Are seed oils bad for you?
While seed oils are higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids than other options, many nutritionists used to believe the amount we consumed would be insignificant as long as you were following a healthy diet with a mix of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. However, this is far from what is happening today as the use of these oils is increasing in usage, making up a much larger percentage of the North American Diet.
Many doctors such as Dr Mercola and Dr Shanahan have dubbed eight specific seed oils ‘The Hateful Eight’ (Canola, Corn, Cottonseed Soy, Sunflower, Safflower, Grapeseed, and Rice bran) and urged their patients to avoid them at all costs. The high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFAs) in seed oils promote inflammation and the accumulation of toxins in body fat, and have been implicated in many other chronic health conditions.
All seed oils are highly processed, and contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Too much Omega 6 oil consumption puts us at risk for chronic inflammation. However, that risk of inflammation is most severe when you don’t have a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Ingesting seed oils, which are the main oils used in any processed or boxed foods, worsens this imbalance and thus, leads to inflammation. Research has shown that an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids can put you at risk for obesity and other long-term medical issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So, what’s the bottom line on seed oils?
It’s pretty simple, avoid seed oils at all costs. It is possible to cut seed oils out of your life completely and focus on using butter, olive oil. coconut oil, or avocado oil, all of which are less processed than seed oils.
Another option I often recommend is to eliminate processed foods from your diet, since that’s where most seed oils are used. Once you start to read labels you will be shocked at the overuse of these oils. Typical culprits (like cookies, snack foods, and cereals) are no-brainers, but even ‘healthy’ foods like salad dressing contains these oils, so I suggest you can try making your own salad dressing to control the type and amount of oil you use.