Social media influencers have raised concerns about the alleged toxicity of seed oils,
often referring to them as the "hateful eight." Canola, corn, cottonseed, grape seed, rice
bran, safflower, soy, and sunflower oils have been accused of causing a range of health
issues, including headaches, compromised immunity, heart disease, diabetes, and
cognitive impairment. Despite these claims, it's important to recognize that seed oils
primarily consist of unsaturated fats, which have long been considered healthier than
saturated fats, like those found in butter, which can contribute to arterial blockage. Recently, in fact, publications from Consumer Reports and Harvard have advocated a more nuanced view of health impacts from seed oils.
The toxicity associated with seed oils is purportedly linked to the byproducts of the
extraction process, involving heat and solvents. This method is believed to introduce
unstable molecules and chemical compounds that could potentially convert healthy
polyunsaturated fats into harmful trans fats.
Although the impact of trace levels of hexane in oils on human health remains uncertain, it
poses environmental and occupational risks, especially for workers exposed to it. Seed
oils, however, contain fewer trans fats compared to dairy products like milk or butter, as
they are only briefly heated.
For those who are concerned about the potential health risks, there are alternative
options such as cold-pressed oils, produced without heat or chemicals, and expeller-pressed oils, which also avoid these ingredients. Cold-pressed oils may retain more
nutrients due to the absence of heat in their production.
The larger debate surrounding seed oils stems from the fact that they are repeatedly heated at high
temperatures, leading to the accumulation of harmful chemicals. The primary source of
this problem can be found in deep fryers used in factories and restaurants, which are
often replaced infrequently. Consuming seed oils in home-cooked meals is generally considered less cause for concern by experts.
Seed oils are also commonly found in various packaged products, including chips, crackers,
baked goods, salad dressings, mayonnaise, and margarine. They are favored for their
affordability and neutral flavor, making them popular choices in the food industry.
Some individuals who eliminate these foods from their diets report feeling more
energetic and losing weight. However, it's important to note that these products are
often high in calories, sugar, salt, and refined carbohydrates. The positive changes
experienced may be attributed to a reduction in processed food consumption as a whole,
rather than exclusively to the elimination of seed oils.
Moreover, it's essential to recognize that many whole foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids,
like nuts and seeds, are indeed beneficial and need not be avoided. A healthy, balanced diet
should incorporate a variety of fatty acids, some of which are naturally present in seed
While concerns have been raised about the potential health risks associated with seed
oils, they continue to be widely used in various food products and cooking practices. The
evidence on their toxicity is inconclusive, and it's essential to consider the overall quality
of one's diet and lifestyle choices. By focusing on a balanced diet that includes a variety
of fatty acids and being mindful of the way seed oils are prepared and consumed,
individuals can make informed choices that promote their well-being.
“The 8 Most-Popular Seed Oils: Their Risks and Benefits.” GoodRx, GoodRx,
18 Oct. 2023.
Liao, Sharon. “Do Seed Oils Make You Sick?” Consumer Reports, 31 May 2022,
“Scientists Debunk Claims of Seed Oil Health Risks.” News, 24 June 2022,