All about the fitness and health lifestyle
All about the fitness and health lifestyle

Are Seed Oils Bad For You?

Last Updated:
August 15, 2023

Are Seed Oils Bad For You?

For those looking to improve their health and reduce fat consumption, seed oils are often recommended over other fat sources. However, this may not be the best oil or fat to be consuming. New studies have been looking into the effect of seed oil on overall long-term health, and finding some surprising information. Below we look at the facts of why seed oils can be bad for you and your health.

What are seed oils?

Seed oils are also commonly referred to as vegetable oils. However, seed oils do not include olive, coconut or avocado oil. Instead, the seed oil category includes soybean, canola, sunflower, peanut, cottonseed, rapeseed, safflower, corn, rice bran, and palm oil.

What products contain seed oils?

These oils are in almost every pre-packaged food. Furthermore, they are used in almost every restaurant. This means the majority of the population is consuming it in varying amounts every day. The use of seed oils in products is not surprising when you see that vegetable oil production has increased by 1600% since the early 1900s. It is also likely to increase by another 30% in the next four years.

Health and seed oil correlation

Studies around the world show that increased seed oil consumption correlates to higher rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other health issues. This was seen in North America from the mid-1950s, and more recently in countries such as India and Japan.

Scientific findings suggest that the consumption of seed oils is likely unsafe for long-term consumption in higher quantities. While this used to not pose a problem, as more companies cut costs, seed oils are replacing other ingredients like butter, animal fat, or even olive oil.

Effects of seed oils on metabolism and obesity

Many studies have shown that higher consumption of linoleic acid causes increased weight gain. However, up until recently, the connection to seed oils was ignored. In every study concerning linoleic acid consumption since the 1990s, the higher the intake the greater the weight gain. Additionally, test subjects had less energy, and insulin resistance was heightened. The result of consumption can impact overall health and can cause further issues such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Why are seed oils bad?

Seed oils contain a moderate to high amount of linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid. While omega-6 fats are necessary in extremely small amounts, they cause inflammation, and bloating, and can increase blood pressure. Furthermore, over-consumption of linoleic acid can cause multiple health issues for those with diabetes.

While eating sunflower seeds, peanuts, corn, and soy products can benefit your health, the oils derived from these products are best to be avoided. This is because the heating process to create seed oils oxidizes the fats and structurally damages the fat molecules of the original seed. Oxidation is what makes seed oils much more harmful than other fat sources as it increases linoleic acid and causes inflammation. Additionally, studies show that linoleic acid is toxic to human lymphocytes and kills cells which causes the mitochondria to produce less energy.

Why are seed oils on the FDA-approved list?

In the modern world, every new food must undergo testing and safety checks before being sold for human consumption. This process is done through the FDA in the US. However, foods that have been around for long enough were simply grandfathered in when the FDA first launched in 1938. These are the foods that made it on the first GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list in 1958. As most seed oils first started being used in the early 1900s, these products were never tested. Thus, have not had to pass the same regulations as many modern foods as they were already popular options before 1958.

How to minimize seed oil consumption?

Ideally, humans should not be consuming more than 1-2% of their daily calorie intake from linoleic acid and omega-6 fats. This means you should aim to avoid products that contain seed oils. The easiest way to reduce your consumption is to avoid anything that is deep-fried. Additionally, try to minimize the consumption of pre-made or processed foods. Make it a habit to check the ingredients list on products you buy. You’ll be surprised at how much seed oil you consume each day! Furthermore, opt to use butter, animal fat, olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil to replace seed oils in your kitchen.

Recent studies are showing the long-term effects of seed oils, and are finding some serious health issues that relate to consumption of them. Overall, seed oils are bad for you and should be avoided when possible. Luckily, there are many other options such as butter, ghee, animal fat, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and cultured oil.

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