Home » What Are Seed Oils and Why You Should Avoid Them

What Are Seed Oils and Why You Should Avoid Them

Seed Oils
Courtesy of thedabblist (Flickr CC0)

One of the most egregiously untruthful ad campaigns out there is for what is known as the seed oil industry. These seed oils are in almost everything you eat from bread, to hot sauce, to alternative milk, and even your favorite dessert. This industry’s misgivings lie in their monopoly over farmlands, the cooking oil industry, and the blatant propaganda purported in saying that seed oils are “heart-healthy”, whilst being the opposite of that. Studies show that toxic seed oils could be the leading cause of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, thyroid issues, and cancer.

What Are Seed Oils?

The first major seed oil was first repurposed after World War 2 where it originally served as an engine lubricant for warplanes. Canada graciously offered up their thousands of acres worth of rapeseed oil for the allied powers’ efforts, and when they won the war, they needed to make use of their investment. These oils were re-branded so they could be marketed as consumable good for the populace and a rigorous refining process was needed. Before this time, rapeseed was mostly used for lantern oil in Europe and had originally come from India. Rapeseed grows in cool climates, which gives it a broader demographic to be grown in compared to other healthy oils that need warmer/tropical climates. There lies the answer to why it is so prevalent in comparison.

The booming population after the second world war compelled our leaders to seek out more sophisticated factory farming, which included cutting costs of oil production in favor of cheaper, easier-to-grow products. Canada is one of the biggest exporters of rapeseed oil, and branded it as Canola oil, or ‘Canada Oil’. The other major toxic seed oils can be found in plants that create oil as a byproduct or have similar geographical advantages to rapeseed. Known under the umbrella term “vegetable oil”, these oils include soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn, and grapeseed.  All of them vary in level of toxicity, but we’ll get into that next.

Why you should avoid these oils at all costs:

Oils themselves are not a bad thing. Our body needs oils and fats to produce new cells, as well as absorb vital nutrients. When we go to look at the differences between the major oils that are out there, the major distinction lies with the varying levels of different kinds of fat. Mono-unsaturated, mono-saturated, poly-saturated, and poly-unsaturated are the 4 major kinds of fats.

There is some debate surrounding the different kinds of fat. Poly-unsaturated fats are going to be the focus of this investigation. This kind of fat contains omega-6 fatty acids, including what is known as linoleic acid. The body quickly converts the dominating fat in vegetable oils into arachidonic acid, which is the building block for inflammatory compounds that store in the body. Eating an excess of these fats causes the body to store these compounds as subcutaneous layers, which accumulate to form numerous chronic conditions.

How Is Our Health Affected By These Oils?

The problem lies with how common these oils are in society and that everyone is eating them, unaware of how it will affect them long-term. We grew up surrounded by these oils and don’t think much of their existence. New data reveals that products like seed oils and BPA are toxic and therefore the EPA should retroactively ban them.

Aside from the crippling inflammation, we see our health affected by this profit-driven, highly subsidized market in other ways. For example, the refinement process creates dangerous byproducts. Or how our use of them in restaurants causes the oils to break down into an even more undesirable constitution. The refinement process for most seed oils includes dissolving them in a solvent called hexane. When the body has too much exposure to this chemical, it can lead to poly-neuropathy, coma, and even death. Next in the process, cleaning the oil in sodium hydroxide, cooling it to separate the latent waxes. Giving the oils a bleach treatment is the final stage of the process so it looks more appealing.

Society ingests seed oils from fried foods more than most other sources. The way that restaurants repeatedly heat and cool the oil causes them to become more inflammatory. In other, more health-conscious countries, ghee (clarified butter), and tallow are the preferred oils for deep frying. These oils are more popular not just for their health benefits and flavor, but for the high smoke point.

What oils can substitute for seed oils?   

A guiding light has arrived from online communities to soothe our concerns for what may be in our fridges. Known as “The Simple Six,” the good oils are easy to identify. Which are avocado oil, grass-fed butter, ghee (clarified butter), beef tallow, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil. These oils contain healthy levels of poly-unsaturated omega-6 fats and an overall balanced level of the others. Their refinement processes are much cleaner and simpler, but you will pay quite a bit more. If it ends up costing you your health, wouldn’t it be worth it though?

By Triston Bowman

Sources:

Seed Oil Rebellion

Compassionate HealthCare Online: How it is made – Canola oil. There are several processing and chemical steps to making refined canola oil

Consumer Reports: Do Seed Oils Make You Sick?

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of thedabblist’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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