If you are wanting to curb inflammatory diseases, it is important to have this list of seed oils to minimize in your diet. This is because seed oils cause oxidative stress in the body and are often produced in a very industrialized way.
List of Seed Oils to Avoid
The most common seed oils, also known as vegetable oils, to minimize or avoid in your diet are:
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Canola Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
Are Seed Oils Bad for You?
Seed oils are new to our food supply as a result of the industrial revolution. Prior to around 100 years ago, our diets did not contain any seed oils.
Today, however, these processed seed oils dominate the food supply. They have caused a drastic shift in the fatty acid ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in our diets. According to Healthline, these oils are extracted with chemical solvents like hexane and are highly refined as well.
While using small amounts of these oils is probably safe and without concern, our food supply today is overloaded with these processed seed oils. And people in recent decades are eating around 10-fold the amount of omega-6 fatty acids from polyunsaturated fats than for most of our human existence.
As you can see in the table above, the oils highest in polyunsaturated fats are seed oils like soybean oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and peanut oil.
These cooking oils are found in almost all restaurant foods as well, especially fried foods and margarine.
Seed Oils Cause Imbalances in the Body
The overload of refined fats that are high in polyunsaturated fats from seed oils creates issues for our health. It has caused an imbalance of essential fatty acids in our bodies. Not surprisingly, these fats are more unsaturated (polyunsaturated), which leads to free radicals and more oxidative stress in the body resulting in chronic diseases.
Imbalanced fatty acids in a diet like this may also lead to an imbalanced immune response as is easy to imagine.
Processing of these oils also leads to an increase in trans fats in these oils.
Industrial seed oils also raise the risk of chronic health problems in a big way. The disease risk increases for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, depression, obesity, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and more.
Gut issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are often triggered by foods with lots of processed seed oils including chips and cookies according to WebMD.
Seed Oils Crowd Out Nutritious Foods
Also, these oils have displaced fats that had their own set of nutritional qualities such as butter and lard. Butter contains a unique profile of fats. This includes short-chain fatty acids that are healthy for the gut. Butter even contains vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin K2. Additionally, butter contains over 400 types of fatty acids and healthy conjugated linoleic acid. Lard is a much more stable fat than seed oils too, and it contains a better balance of omega 3 to omega 6 than seed oils.
The rise in diabetes rates directly coincides with the rise in seed oil intake. Whether or not these oils are the direct cause or not, the ultra-processed foods that seed oils keep company with do increase your risk of diabetes.
Last but not least, many of these seed oils are from genetically modified crops that are heavily sprayed with chemicals like glyphosate. These chemicals are questionable at best for the health of humans and the planet.
How to Limit Seed Oils
Let’s face it; seed oils are mostly found in unhealthy processed foods. By reducing processed food and restaurant food intake, you will naturally eat less of these suspect seed oils.
Foods with seed oils are often low in nutrition too. It’s a win-win to cut back on these oils because you will automatically eat more healthy and nutritious foods if you make a conscientious effort to cut back on them.
Instead, use natural fats like extra virgin olive oil, pasture-raised butter and beef tallow, lard, coconut oil, and unrefined avocado oil for better oils in cooking.
Additionally, you should eat fats in their natural forms, such as whole nuts, avocados, olives, organ meats, fish, and regeneratively-raised meats. This way, they are not highly refined and less likely to undergo oxidation.
What oils are non-seed oils?
If you are looking for seed oil alternatives, it is easy to swap out more traditional fats for processed oils. These non-seed oils include coconut oil, butter, ghee, tallow, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and lard.
Aren’t unsaturated fatty acids from seed oils healthier for the heart than saturated fatty acids?
Not necessarily. Unsaturated fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids and include omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. However, these fats are susceptible to oxidation. This is especially true when they are exposed to high temperatures such as frying. This oxidation can cause damage to healthy cells in our bodies which leads to inflammation as a result. So in other words, eating industrial seed oils cause a lot of silent damage to the body. On the other hand, saturated fats have gotten a bad name for a long time, but are much more stable than unsaturated fats. And it gets complicated because there are many kinds of saturated fats, some of which actually are helpful for the body such as butyrate. Much of the research that originally claimed that all saturated fats cause heart disease has also been debunked by more recent research. Rather, highly processed foods with lots of added sugars are probably more to blame for most health issues than saturated fat.
Is olive oil a seed oil?
No. Olive oil is technically a fruit oil. Unlike seed oils and the inflammation risk they bring, extra virgin olive oil has been used for thousands of years and is quite healthy. Just make sure to choose extra virgin olive oil to gain the health benefits of this antioxidant-rich oil. The use of olive oil is beneficial for many aspects of health, including gut health.
Is palm oil healthy?
It depends. Virgin red palm oil contains a lot of natural vitamin E and also contains carotenoids which are potent antioxidants. However, most palm oil is harvested in non-sustainable ways which put wildlife like elephants and orangutans at risk. It is often highly processed too unless you choose virgin palm oil. Additionally, palm oil may increase LDL cholesterol, but luckily also increases good cholesterol known as HDL cholesterol. You should opt for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil in your diet which is also virgin red palm oil instead of processed palm oils.
What about the smoke point of oils?
Smoke points of oils are an outdated way of determining if oil is healthy to cook with or not. As it turns out, the food you cook it with changes the smoke point. The oxidation of the oils during cooking is more important than the smoke point and you can learn more about this in my post about the Best Oils for Air Frying.
What about black seed oil? Is it good for my health?
Black cumin seed oil, also known as black seed oil, is derived from the spice called black cumin and it is very effective at dampening inflammation in the body. Useful for reducing arthritis and other health conditions, this seed oil is actually a healthy seed oil. Learn more here: Black Seed Oil for Weight Loss and Its Many Fascinating Benefits.
Is peanut oil a seed oil?
Yes. But it is one of the healthier seed oils because it is available in an unrefined form so it retains its antioxidant capacity. Just make sure to choose unrefined peanut oil instead of highly processed peanut oils.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.