Are seed oils bad for you?

Tins of sunflower, canola, and grapeseed oil

Humans have been using refined oils, like seed oils, for more than a century. But recent health trends on social media claim that seed oils have negative health impacts. Let’s break it down and get to the heart of the conversation.

What are seed oils?

Seed oils are a type of refined vegetable oil that is extracted from the seed of a plant, rather than the fruit.

Historically, seed oils have been considered ideal for cooking at higher temperatures because of their high smoke point and neutral flavors.

Common seed oils

Canola oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil are the most used.

They are commonly used in restaurants and fried or processed foods because they can be cheaply mass produced and have a long shelf life.

Are seed oils unhealthy?

In a nutshell, overusing poor quality seed oils can be unhealthy.

But it’s primarily because most of the seed oil consumed by the average person is highly overprocessed and overheated.

Overprocessing during refining strips the oils of their valuable nutrients and natural flavors, while heating oil in large fryers for too long creates harmful carcinogens.

Seed oil is high in essential omega-6 fatty acids, which provides energy and can even help lower cholesterol as part of a balanced diet.

Any oil in large quantities can be bad for your health. The important thing is to choose quality, virgin oils that retain their flavors and nutrients.

Why did seed oils get blamed?

Evidence came out saying that health problems are on the rise partly because the average American diet has become high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 fatty acids. Seed oils mistakenly received the blame on social media due to a misinterpreted lab study and the widespread use of seed oil in fried and other unhealthy, processed foods.

Science shows these claims are false.

The claim: Seed oils contain bad fats that cause inflammation.

  • The facts: Most oils contain a mix of fats, but seed oils are primarily unsaturated fats, which are essential to any diet because our bodies don't create them on their own. Seed oils contain omega-6 fatty acids which help the body absorb nutrients. On the other hand, coconut oil is 82% saturated fat and needs to be limited. Many people on social media claim that the linoleic acid in all seed oils causes inflammation. But some seed oils, like sunflower oil, don't contain this compound at all. In fact, research has linked linoleic acid to lower levels of inflammation.

The claim: Seed oils are toxic and have toxic byproducts.

  • The facts: Industrial processing often involves heat or chemical solvents which strip the oils of their natural nutrients and flavors. Some claim that these processes leave toxic residues, but studies show that these processing methods pose more risk to factory workers than consumers. Higher quality cold-pressed and expeller-pressed oils retain their purity and are available from more conscientious companies. The real cause for concern is that restaurants and factory deep-fryers can create a buildup of damaging toxins by heating seed oils repeatedly or for too long. Cooking with seed oils at home isn’t an issue.
  • Another concern is the heavy use of pesticides and genetically modified crops in industrial agriculture. This issue affects our entire food chain and isn’t limited to seed oils. Today, the source of our food matters more than ever. It’s better to choose companies that only source the best ingredients, especially if it’s something you use to cook your food in, like seed oils.

The claim: Seed oils are used in unhealthy foods.

  • The facts: This may be true, but it’s no reason to blame seed oils. Restaurants and manufacturers of packaged products—like chips, baked goods, margarine and mayonnaise—typically use these oils because they’re cheap and have a high-heat point. Cutting out these types of overprocessed, nutrient-poor foods will help anyone feel better and lose weight. Seed oil isn’t the villain. The essential fatty acids in any oils only become bioavailable when consumed with other necessary nutrients, like fiber. Easy, empty calories from overprocessed fast foods might seem convenient in our busy lives, but the long-term health cost isn’t worth it. The best solution is to be intentional about our diets and cook from home as often as we can.

Choose better oils

Here at La Tourangelle, we believe that good oils are rich in flavor, diverse in origin and best when protected in tin packaging. This preserves the oils purity and protects against oxidation. We actively promote organic farming and a whole food diet, the exact opposite of industrial seed oils.

We know that the only way to create a better food system is by providing healthier alternatives and educating consumers about what’s in their food. We promote home cooking because we believe in the healing power of food and the natural intelligence of the human body.

Our refined certified organic seed oils are loaded with nutrients because:

  1. We use sustainable ingredients.
  2. They are expeller pressed (without chemicals).
  3. They are processed lightly, using traditional techniques.

We gather the best oils from all over the world. Every single one can be part of a balanced diet proven to make people live longer, healthier and happier. It is our craft, passion and mission. Click here to learn more.

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