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seed oils to avoid

7 Seed Oils to Avoid

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Last modified on March 30th, 2022

(Last Updated On: March 30, 2022)

There are certain seed oils to avoid if you want to begin lowering inflammation and improving your health. We’re increasingly learning that many of the most common seed oils and vegetable oils may lead to negative health effects.

Below, we go over seven seed oils to avoid and provide you with what you should know about the effects of consumption of seed oils and how you can choose better alternatives within the food industry and Westernized diets.

seed oils to avoid

How Is the Seed Oil Industry Making Us Sick?

Researchers have often offered different explanations for why chronic disease rates increase so quickly in industrialized nations. We are not at a point of optimal health as a society, which is clear. 

Saturated fats and sugar are two answers to the growing issues with human health. One that may also be a similarly harmful reason for chronic illness yet goes under the radar is the industrial seed oil industry.

Industrial seed oils are not beneficial or healthy.

Traditional healthy fat sources include ghee, butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. They’ve been used for a long time, but industrial seed oils are a new, modern addition to the standard human diet.

Industrial seed oils are highly processed and come from corn, rapeseed, cottonseed, and soybeans. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that Americans started consuming these oils.

These industrial byproducts were initially used in soapmaking.

So, how did this happen?

In the 1870s, William Procter and James Gamble went into business together. Soap was traditionally made from rendered pork fat, but Proctor and Gamble decided they would try to make it from vegetable oils.

Cottonseed oil until that time was viewed as toxic waste until Proctor and Gamble figured out they could use the throwaway oil to make soap.

Along the way, they also figured out they could use a process called hydrogenation to chemically change the cottonseed oil and turn it into a cooking fat resembling lard. That essentially means that toxic waste became part of our standard American diet.

Then, several other vegetable oils followed. For example, soybeans started being used widely in the U.S. in the 1930s. Canola, safflower, and corn oils were introduced shortly after. These cooking oils offered a low-cost way for Americans to prepare food, and use soared.

Unfortunately, so have inflammation and rates of chronic diseases. Seed oils are likely one of the primary dietary factors contributing to inflammation along with gluten and excessive amounts of sugar. The effects of seed oils, gluten, and sugar on our health range from brain fog and low energy to chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

Some of the specific reasons seed oils can be so harmful to your health include:

  • Evolutionarily we are not designed to eat seed oils, as they are an industrial byproduct.
  • Having seed oils raises your omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio.
  • These oils aren’t stable and oxidize easily.
  • These types of oils also tend to have harmful additives.
  • Genetically modified crops are used to produce the oils.
  • When these oils are heated, they create byproducts that are even more toxic.

Some of the conditions that might be linked to these oils include:

  • Asthma—seed oils increase the risk of asthma because when you have them, you’re consuming a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids. When your levels of omega-6 fatty acids relative to your omega-3s are high, it raises mediators of inflammation linked to asthma.
  • Autoimmune disorders—researchers are starting to see the links between seed oils and autoimmune disease because they raise omega-6 fatty acids. This, in turn, leads to high levels of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
  • Mental health—having a diet high in industrial seed oils is incredibly harmful to your brain health. A high omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio raises your risk of anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia. The trans fats produced by seed oils when they’re chemically processed and going through heat processing and during hydrogenation are linked to a higher risk of dementia.
  • Obesity—animal studies show that diets high in linoleic acid, the main fatty acid in seed oils, affect neurotransmitter signaling. The effects on signaling can then cause increased consumption of food. A diet high in soybean oil in mice is linked to insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Research in animals also shows that canola oil can cause insulin resistance. For pregnant women, research shows a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3s is linked to an increased risk of obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes in children.
  • Heart health and heart diseases—Oxidized fatty acids from seed oils appear to play a role in cardiovascular disease. The linoleic acid from seed oils becomes blood lipoproteins. Then, because of the instability of linoleic acid, there’s an increased potential for lipoproteins to oxidize. Your body’s receptors can’t recognize lipoproteins that are oxidized. That leads them to activate macrophages, which contribute to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
  • Gut health—we increasingly see that the health of our guts is linked to our overall wellness. Research shows seed oils may be harmful to gut health, contributing to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For example, a study in mice fed corn oil led to increases in pro-inflammatory gut bacteria. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids change the gut microbiota, contributing to inflammation.
  • Inflammation—the root cause of nearly all modern illnesses seems to be inflammation. Diets high in omega-6 intake promote chronic inflammation. Consuming non-hydrogenated soybean oil and also partially hydrogenated industrial oils is associated with higher C-reactive protein (CRP), TNF-alpha, and interleukin-6, all of which are markers of systemic inflammation. Many of the most pervasive chronic health conditions are inflammatory diseases. 
  • Infertility—around 11% of women and 9% of men in the U.S. have infertility or impaired fertility. Multiple factors contribute, but one potential element to consider is a diet high in seed oils. In animal studies, a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids led to worse reproductive outcomes.
  • Osteoarthritis—There’s a link between omega-6 fatty acids and synovitis for people with osteoarthritis. Synovitis is an inflammation of the membranes lining joint cavities.

Having a low mood, being sluggish throughout the day, and even migraines may also be linked to excessive seed oil consumption.

Some experts argue the most important thing you can do for your health is to eliminate seed oils and vegetable oils.

Essentially, these oils are highly unstable in the human body, leading to the creation of cell-damaging free radicals. Our body isn’t equipped to handle the excessive free radicals seed oils produce.

Since these oils are inflammatory, they can damage the lining of blood cells, affecting circulation and blood flow to the brain.

So often, when people eliminate seed oils, they describe it as feeling like a fog lifted. They have fewer headaches, improved mood, less anxiety, and improvements in their mental performance. You can alleviate many adverse health effects if you can cut out harmful fatty acids and seed oils. 

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

We talk a lot above about omega-6 fatty acids. These fats naturally occur in some plant foods, like nuts and vegetables, and vegetable oils like soybean oil also have high amounts of them.

Omega-6 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that fall into polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs.

Research indicates early humans had equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids because that was most beneficial for health. Now, in the U.S., people eat way more omega-6s than they do omega-3s. Researchers think, on average, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 20-to-1 or even higher.

Foods high in omega-6 fatty acids and seed oils include pine nuts and walnuts, tofu, almonds, and mayonnaise. When you eat foods with omega-6 fats, you should balance them out with omega-3-rich foods.

Avoiding processed and fried foods is one of the most ways to limit your intake of omega-6 fatty acids.

Seed Oils to Avoid

The following is a list of seed oils to avoid.

  • Soybean
  • Corn oil
  • Canola
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Sunflower

Along with the above seed oils to avoid, you should also steer clear of rice bran and safflower oil which can have similar harmful effects and are not a healthy choice for cardiovascular health, weight, mental health, or metabolic health. 

How Can You Avoid Seed Oils Throughout Your Daily Life?

The first step you can take to make sure you aren’t consuming any of the above seed oils is to make as much of your food at home as possible. This gives you control over all the ingredients and how they’re being prepared.

Great fats for cooking to include as part of a healthy diet can include:

  • Extra virgin olive oil—olive oil is a healthy fat that’s been included in the diet of humans for thousands of years and is ideal for everyday cooking. Olive oil is an excellent source of vitamin E and polyphenols. Olive oil has heart-protective benefits and may also reduce the symptoms of diabetes when used regularly. When choosing specific products, look for the most high-quality oils you can afford. Olive oil is a versatile option when you’re working to make healthier choices because of its mild flavor, which we also like. 
  • Coconut oil—this superfood fat has medium-chain triglycerides that are used by the body easily for energy. Coconut oil also has other health-promoting properties like antiviral properties antibacterial and antifungal properties. Coconut oil is excellent for lowering your risk for heart disease, including coronary heart disease. 
  • Butter and ghee—choose butter and ghee from grass-fed animals. This common type of fat is good for metabolic health, and it also has short-chain fatty acids that are important for gut and brain health. 
  • Lard—we often think about dietary fat as a bad thing, and this misconception could destroy our health. Lard is a healthy fat that’s also rich in vitamin D.
  • Tallow—I love tallow so much I use it in supplement form—Ancestral Supplements has an excellent tallow product. Tallow is fat from meat aside from pork, including bison and beef. Tallow has a high smoke point so that you can use it for nearly anything, including high-heat cooking. Tallow doesn’t necessarily have a neutral flavor, but some people like that because it gives food richness when you cook with it. 
  • Like tallow duck fat, duck fat has a high smoke point and is heat stable, but it has a delicate, lovely flavor and numerous health benefits compared to a fat high in omega-6 fats. 

Along with being mindful about the cooking fats you choose, you want to make sure that you’re getting healthy fats in your diet regularly. Wild-caught high-fat fish like salmon, grass-fed meat, and avocado are excellent healthy fats sources.

If you prefer a nutty flavor from your cooking oil, options include almond oil and walnut oil. 

When choosing animal fats or meats, get pasture-raised products because conventionally-raised meat is significantly higher in omega-6s.

Other tips to skip the above seed oils to avoid include:

  • Make your dressings for your salads. Even if you’re buying a seemingly healthy salad dressing, there’s a very high likelihood it might have one of the harmful seed oils.
  • Scan the ingredient list of everything you eat. Even seemingly healthy foods can have seed oils, like granola bars and similar snacks. 
  • Before eating there, do your research on restaurants to see what type of oils and fats they cook with. If you can’t find the information online, don’t be afraid to call and ask.
  • When you eat out, you can request that your food be cooked with butter instead of oils.
  • Fresh, whole food choices are among the best ways to skip seed oils because you have more visibility into what you’re eating than packaged and processed foods.

Seed Oils to Avoid—Final Thoughts

If you want to do something for your mental and physical health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, cut out the above seed oils to avoid. These industrial inventions are destroying the health of many people without them even realizing it.

Seed oils can have harmful additives, and they’re known to activate inflammatory pathways chronically. Even if you’ve made other changes in your diet and approach to healthy living, you’re not going to get optimal results without cutting out seed oils and adding more anti-inflammatory omega-three fats. 

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