One of the subjects I never get tired of talking about is fat.
As I’ve stated numerous times, fat is not necessarily an enemy to our health, but the world at large seems to think that if you eat fat you will get fat.
Not even close to true… depending on what kinds of fat you eat.
Like anything, there are good fats and there are bad fats. And when I say good and bad, these differences are pretty oblique.
Today I’d like to hammer home the truth that if you want to maintain great health then you need to avoid seed oils (fats) as best as you possibly can.
As you’ll see, there’s a very good case to be made between the deterioration of American health and the increased reliance on seed oils in our food scene. Seed oils are cheap, plentiful, and impart undeniably delicious flavor - but they are an invitation for an early death for many.
I’ll demonstrate what’s wrong with them here.
Seed Oils Toxic Beginnings
In medical school, no one ever tells us that most of what people eat today has a history steeped in industrial waste.
But that’s the truth.
Modern seed oils, ones that you eat, weren’t around until the late 19th century.
But, when two soapmakers—William Procter and James Gamble— (yes, of that Proctor & Gamble) stopped using pork fat to make soap and realized that the toxic waste product known as cottonseed oil could easily replace pig fat in soap, the rise of seed oils in common use began.
After they used it in soap for some amount of time they discovered that they could chemically alter the cottonseed oil through “hydrogenation,” and this transformed it from an oil into a solid cooking fat that resembled lard.
That product is known today as “Crisco” and millions of Americans have used it in their cooking for north of 100 years.
The discovery of the utility of cottonseed oil (which is made by subjecting cotton seeds to a mixture of toxins, including hexane, bleach, and deodorizer), led enterprising food companies to investigate what other seed oils could be extracted and used in the food industry.
In the coming years, soybeans, corn, canola (grapeseed), safflower, sunflowers, and more were all turned into cheap and dirty food oils and the traditional utilization of animal fats to cook with began to subside in popularity.
In general, the process to make seed oils is relatively similar, and when you see how we adulterate a natural plant-based product to get the end product of a seed oil that we consume in copious quantities you can see why people in America are getting so sick.
The first thing to happen to any kind of a seed oil is the seed is super-heated. Once this happens the unsaturated fatty acids in the seed oxidize, and this oxidization (rust is a form of oxidation) creates byproducts that are not fit for human consumption.
So in stage 1, the seeds have transformed into an unhealthy kind of fat.
In stage 2 the manufacturers then put the seeds in a petroleum-based solvent (toxic) and then extract as much oil from the seed as they can.
Stage 3 involves them exposing the seed oil to a deodorizer, as the seeds have a very off-putting smell, once being roasted. These deodorizers produce trans fats which as I’m sure you’re aware, are terrible for human health.
Then in stage 4, additional chemicals are added to make the seed oil look better. Appearances, in this case, are quite deceiving.
It’s a long process of chemicals on top of chemicals being used to make something that you’re then meant to eat.
Worse yet is the whole process doesn’t just produce a toxin-filled cooking product, many of the nutrients that were in the fats to begin with have been cooked off, or stripped from the fat, rendering these oils a nutrient-poor source of energy.
Not what you want when you’re trying to become healthier.
I could go into greater detail about how people have been duped into believing these oils are somehow healthy, but if you want to read about it I suggest you read this article which gives a deep history of seed oils.
All I want to do here is fill you in on how seed oils could negatively impact your health.
4 Ways Seed Oils Negatively Impact Your Health
1 - They promote chronic inflammation:
Chronic inflammation is easily one of the greatest risk factors for diseases like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and more.
Seed oils promote chronic inflammation as they are high in omega-6 fats.
Animal fats tend to have a balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Both are needed to flourish, but when the balance skews more towards the omega-6 side of the scale it leads to massive inflammation in the body.
The ideal balance in all of your fat consumption is 1 to 1. Seeds oil ratios are somewhere between 10 to 1 to 20 to 1.
Thus, when your diet consists of a ton of seed oils you’re loading up on omega-6s and your chance of calming that inflammation with an anti-inflammatory fat like omega-3 fatty acids is non-existent.
2 - They Can Disrupt Your DNA:
Seed oils are highly unstable and exposure to things like heat or light can alter their chemical composition through oxidation.
For you, the effects can be quite traumatic and can even fundamentally alter DNA expression.
When seeds oils are corrupted they form trans fats and lipid peroxides. Trans fats don’t necessarily alter DNA (but they are proven to contribute to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, etc), but lipid peroxides are quite dangerous.
Dr. Chris Kresser notes that Lipid peroxides “are toxic byproducts that damage DNA, proteins, and membrane lipids throughout the body. The accumulation of lipid peroxides in the body promotes aging and the development of chronic diseases.”
3 - They’re Filled with Toxins:
Seed oils are not pure, not the same way that tallow, olive oil, or other historically “clean” oils are.
That’s because as you saw in the manufacturing process, engineers have to throw a ton of chemicals at the seeds to get them to perform the way they want.
Synthetic antioxidants are frequently added to keep the oils shelf-stable and prevent the oxidation I mentioned above from happening.
Many of these synthetic antioxidants (BHA, BHT, and TBHQ) are proven to be carcinogenic, immune-disrupting, and endocrine-disrupting too.
There’s no good reason for anyone to ever consume them, and they’re in most seed oils eaten today!
4 - They Get More Toxic When You Heat Them Back Up
You may think that the destabilization the seed oils are subjected to during the initial heating period is bad enough.
Turns out, the more you reheat them (think a deep fryer) the worse off they are for you.
Kresser notes “The repeated heating of industrial seed oils depletes vitamin E, a natural antioxidant while inducing the formation of free radicals that cause oxidative stress and damage DNA, proteins, and lipids throughout the body. These harmful effects explain why repeatedly heated industrial seed oils are associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and intestinal and liver damage.”
So, What Fats Are Safe?
After reading this you’re probably wondering what kind of fats, or oils, are safe?
It’s a good question.
For sure anything that was made from a seed, and through high heat extraction is arguably unsafe. Now, if you cook a bunch of beef and render beef fat in the form of tallow, that’s not unsafe, especially if you acquired that fat at low temperature.
Mostly, cold-pressed oils (fats) are acceptable, so that would include oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, etc.
And animal fats from pasture-raised or wild-caught animals are indisputably safe as well as preferable from a health standpoint.
You need fat…
Just make sure you’re not eating the wrong kinds!