These Popular Cooking Oils May Negatively Affect Your Health, From A Holistic Nutritionist
When you go to the grocery store to replenish your cooking oils, how do you pick? Do you go for the cheapest option? The one your parents always used to buy? Or maybe just the one with the best-looking bottle? Whatever the criteria, there is something you should probably know when it comes to most seed oils: They're really not all that good for you.
The lowdown on processed oils.
Some of the oils in question in Leveque's post include soybean, corn, canola (rapeseed), sunflower (more details on the nuance of sunflower oil here), safflower, cottonseed, grapeseed, and rice bran. "Industrial seed oils were considered industrial waste and used only in soap making until 1911, but in the last two decades, we've seen them added to everything from oat milk, protein bars, cookies, crackers, dip, dressings, and prepackaged foods…plus all the fast-casual and fast food restaurants use them to cook/fry everything," she shares in her post.
These oils are made by heating the seeds to high temperatures, causing the polyunsaturated fats in the seeds (PUFA) to oxidize, which LeVeque says can create harmful byproducts for humans. "These seeds are then processed with a petroleum-based solvent such as hexane," she says. "This is to maximize the amount of oil that can be extracted from those seeds."
These oils are also chemically deodorized because, according to LeVeque, they smell like a mixture of fish and dirty feet, thus causing the production of trans fats (which are notoriously bad for human health). After the addition of even more chemicals to improve the color, these seed oils ultimately can have a negative impact on our overall health.
"Between [the] years of 1959 and 2008, the increase [in] polyunsaturated fats, specifically linoleic acid, has gone [up] 2½ fold from 9.1% to 21.5%," warns LeVeque. "We want a 1:1 ratio, and we're really far from that right now. When I was writing my first book in 2016, it was a 12:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, and today estimates have more than doubled."
What to do instead.
Making small tweaks to your diet are what is going to make the most significant impact on your health in the long run, and a great place to start is swapping out these industrial seed oils with a better option that can provide your body with actual benefits. Our recommendation? Extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
Not only are these plant oils inherently rich in antioxidants, but they also contain monounsaturated fats (think omega-9 fatty acid oleic acid found in a Mediterranean dietary pattern and lifestyle) to support cardiometabolic health and even help to promote longevity. (Here are six more healthy oil options to consider, too.)
Swapping certain, processed seed oils for EVOO and plugging a targeted supplement into your daily routine are two actionable steps you can take to improve your overall health. With this, it's also important to check the ingredients list of your favorite "health" foods to make sure they don't feature any of these highly processed oils as well. Having the knowledge to make positive choices for your well-being is essential, and now there's one less ingredient flying under the radar in your pantry.
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.