There are several foods that we all know we should cut back on when it comes to our health. fast food is definitely forbidden, potato chips are never good, and sweet snacks should be limited as much as possible. All in all, we know that whenever possible, cooking a healthy meal at home and avoiding processed foods is always the best course of action. However, there is one sneaky ingredient you could add to these homemade meals that could undo your weight loss efforts: vegetable seed oils such as canola oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc. It turns out that consuming these oils can have serious health consequences over time. In fact, you might want to consider cutting them out altogether, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
To learn more about the health risks of seed oils and why you should limit your intake as much as possible, we spoke to health experts. Jenny Smithcertified health coach in functional medicine, and Kelsey Mauro, functional medicine gut health consultant. They told us all about how this ingredient can slow down your metabolism and put you at risk for inflammation and disease.
Seed oils lead to inflammation and weight gain
According to Mauro and Smith, consuming seed oils can lead to a whole range of health problems. However, two of the biggest risks are inflammation and weight gain. Mauro explains that this is largely because these oils are “processed with multiple chemicals and are super high in omega-6 fatty acids.” As she explains, “these acids are a key contributor to inflammation” and “can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases and an increased risk of obesity.” Ouch!
Smith agrees, “Seed oils disrupt our metabolism and cause inflammation in our bodies. These oils, when processed, are mostly made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs.” She notes that while seed oils are generally good on their own, the real problem arises when processed at high temperatures, how “prone to oxidative damage” they are. From there, “when we ingest them, our bodies attack them like a foreign substance, leading to inflammation and almost all illnesses.” She goes on to say that these oils can clog our arteries and disrupt blood flow, cause cognitive decline, and even lead to premature wrinkles. Plus, the calorie content alone is reason enough to eliminate them from your diet if you want to lose weight. In fact, according to Smith, “the average American gets about 80% of their calories from seed oils.” We had no idea!
For this reason, eliminating seed oils from your diet, or at least limiting their intake as much as possible, is a great option for your overall health. “When we remove them from our diet, our inflammation goes down and our risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease goes down dramatically,” confirms Mauro.
Healthier alternatives to seed oils
So what are some healthier alternatives to seed oils that you can cook with instead? There are so many options! Smith lists olive oil, peanut oil, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, palm oil, animal fats like lard and tallow, and butter . “These natural fats can handle the heat and don’t cause a storm of oxidative stress in our bodies,” she says, adding that “cooking at home ensures you’re ingesting only the good stuff.”
Unfortunately, eliminating seed oils can be difficult for those of us who like to eat out or buy pre-packaged meals, as these oils are found in many foods and are frequently used in restaurants. Smith does, however, offer a little advice to anyone who wants to go out to eat: “When eating out, ask your server if the chef can only cook with olive oil or butter. there are salads, and I ask them to bring the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side,” she says.
Luckily, a little seed oil now and then won’t kill you, so don’t worry too much if it’s out of your control. Just be sure to make healthy choices whenever possible, and remember that cooking at home will always give you the opportunity to opt for better alternatives. You might be surprised how good you feel when you make the switch!